Adventures in Cooking Through the Pantry: Vegetarian Springs Rolls & Cauliflower Roast

We’re at t-minus 5 weeks until our big move to New York, and I am dutifully cooking my way through our pantry and freezer. It’s a big night when we only need to pick up a few veggies from the store, or even – gasp – not buy anything new at all.

Which makes Monday night’s meal an A+. Fresh, veggie, easy, and delicious. Nothing revolutionary here, but tasty all the same. And my apologies, but you know I’m not a profesh food blogger because of the artificially-lit photos. I’m just not willing to wake up extra early and cook before work so I can shoot with natural light. I love you, but not that much.

70851406-fc4d-4272-bf0e-e6b98d579d77--10161057216_86f10716eb_bImage credit: Food52

First up: Whole roasted cauliflower from Food52. This recipe is spectacular – beautiful, relatively easy, and scrumptious as f***. Even better, the cooking liquid can be frozen and saved, so on Monday all I needed to do was defrost and bring to a boil my ingredients from last time (plus a little extra wine or water to cover the cauliflower).

I also benefited from my habit of picking up a hardy vegetable or two every time I’m at the grocery store – kale, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and broccoli always get used in our house eventually. I had a head of cauliflower in the crisper from last week, so in it went along with the defrosted cooking broth. Because my husband has a goat cheese aversion, I haven’t made Food52’s accompaniment to the cauliflower, but I promise it is a home run even on its own (though if you make the whipped goat cheese, let me know how it is!).

Second on the dinner docket: fresh vegetable spring rolls. This was where my pantry really came through with inspiration – I’ve had spring roll skins (and you know they have a long shelf life if you can buy them on Amazon) languishing on a high shelf for who knows how long. Finally, their time had come!


I went back into the crisper for carrots (of the baby variety, Mike’s go-to snack), some sad celery that I revived in ice water, and half a cucumber that had been sitting patiently in the back of the drawer all weekend. A quick julienne and then into a pan with rice vinegar they went, for a quick pickle. A quickle, as Mike would say – the man never misses an opportunity for a portmanteau.

DSC06594-ANIMATIONBecause we keep it vegetarian in Casa Brecki, our protein for the rolls was Morningstar fake chicken (ahem, “ficken” says Mike) patties – the breaded kind, to crisp up a bit. I’ll defer to you meat eaters on what you’d like best, but I’d probably be partial to shrimp, assuming you could source ones that weren’t horrifying (only read that if you feel like never eating shrimp again – I only got as far as the headline, really, because I will always love shrimp cocktail even if it makes my lips swell to Real Housewives proportions).DSC06608

Soften each spring roll skin in warm water for a few seconds, place your ingredients in the center, and wrap ’em up all cozy. They may not be beautiful, but they will be delicious (fun fact: the same is also true of my hands).


Normally I’d use a leaf of butter lettuce as a base layer here, but once I realized I’d be able to make a meal without leaving the house (it’s 70 degrees in February, and a block to the grocer – what the hell is wrong with me?) I was determined to stick with what I had, so lettuce became NOT AN OPTION. Rice vermicelli is another popular filling, and I’ve used it in the past, but to me it’s just filler, like rice in a burrito. Gasp, sacrilege, I know! I just prefer vegetables to starch. That’s all I’m saying.


After wrapping, place the rolls on a plate, not letting them touch the others – they might stick together.

I generally make peanut sauce by taste, throwing PB, some sesame oil, warm water, chili oil/flakes, garlic, miso, pomegranate molasses (which we always have on hand because of Mike’s favorite kale salad) and soy sauce in the food processor. I’ve also heard of versions with ginger and lime juice that sound tasty, but again, NOT AN OPTION for this lazy lady because I didn’t have them on hand. Fish sauce would be tasty too (Mike would call it fauce, but he won’t actually because he finds it abhorrent, so there we go – no fish sauce here). You can thin down any leftovers to make a salad dressing, or use it as a dip for cut veggies. Basically, there is nothing that peanut sauce cannot do, comestible-y speaking.

Fresh herbs are wonderful in fresh spring rolls as well, and if you can get your hands on Thai or regular basil, or mint, or cilantro, then it will really brighten up the scenario. I brightened up my scenario with the celery leaves I already had, because I am a goddamned genius.

Does anyone else get really overconfident when cooking?

Just me? Ok then. Well, good luck, and enjoy.

1 Comment

  1. […] The second in a series: the first installment, Vegetarian Spring Rolls + Cauliflower Roast, is here. […]

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