The Food Matters Project: {Tofu} Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce

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So, this week for my Food Matters Project recipe post we are going to do things a bit different. See, this week is my turn to host. Meaning that I picked a recipe from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook and I am supposed to cook that recipe from the book while all of the other Food Matters Project Members cook their version or interpretation. Fun, right?

Picking a recipe was so hard for me to do.  Mainly because I love to get creative and reinvent recipes rather than cook them as they are written.

Plus, it’s the middle of August – and who wants to be in the kitchen in the middle of August? Exactly. After much deliberation, I decided to go with {Tofu} Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce. I figured that everyone would like this pick since there isn’t much actual (heat) cooking involved, there are endless variations that can suit any diet from vegan to carnivore and even accommodate nut allergies by swapping the peanuts for sunflower seeds.

It is certainly going to be interesting to see everyone’s variations – click here to check them out.

Oh, and because I can’t leave well-enough alone, be sure to scroll to the end for my NOTES to see how I made this recipe a bit easier. 😉

{Tofu} Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Reprinted from The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman, page 96. 
Serves 4 to 8
Prep and Assemble Time Approximately One Hour
Sauce ~ 2 Points Plus Per Serving Based on 8 Servings
Rolls   ~  1 Point Plus Each (Based on Making 8 Rolls)

1/2 cup roasted peanuts

1/2 cup coconut milk

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon minced garlic

salt and black pepper

1 head butter lettuce, 8 leaves left whole and the rest torn

1 cup shredded Napa cabbage

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or mint

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, preferably Thai

1/2 cup grated, shredded, or julienned carrot

1/2 cup chopped or slivered cucumber

2 scallions, cut lenthwise into slivers

8 ounces cooked shrimp, fish, chicken, pork, or tofu, chopped up or sliced into slivers, optional

Hot water as needed

8 sheets rice paper, 8 to 10 inches in diameter

1.       Process the peanuts, coconut milk, lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, and garlic in a food processor until fairly smooth; taste and add salt and pepper as you like. (You can make the dipping sauce up to a day ahead; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.)

2.       Prepare the other ingredients and set them out on your work surface. Set out a bowl of hot water (110 to 120F) and a clean kitchen towel.

3.       Put a sheet of rice paper in the water and let it soak for about 10 seconds, just until soft (don’t let it become too soft; it will continue to soften as you work). Lay it on the towel. (You can soak them all and stack them between layers of towels if you like; they’ll keep in the refrigerator that way for up to several hours.)

4.       Lay a lettuce leaf toward the bottom third of one rice paper and top with a small amount of each filling ingredient (using no more than 1/2 cup per roll). Roll up the rice paper to enclose the filling, then tuck in the sides as you would a burrito; keep it fairly tight and continue rolling, then press the seam to seal. Serve whole or cut in half with the dipping sauce on the side.


  • I didn’t have enough roasted peanuts on hand (we can blame a certain 2.5 year-old for that one) so I used peanut butter. Since the recipe called for 1/2 cup of peanuts, I used 1/4 cup of peanut butter as that is the normal ratio from peanuts to peanut butter. Bottom line, if you don’t usually have the roasted peanuts in the house, use peanut butter for the sauce, it’s not the end of the world.
  • I used Coconut Palm Sugar in place of Brown Sugar. Coconut Palm Sugar (my favorite is Big Tree Farms SweetTree Organic Blonde) is our sugar of choice because it is extremely low on the glycemic index, unrefined and has a wonderful caramel-like taste.
  • I used five small garlic cloves instead of chopping and measuring a tablespoon of chopped garlic. Note that I did add it to the food processor first, chopped it and added remaining sauce ingredients. The sauce had a nice garlic kick to it, if you like less garlic, use three or four.
  • I made the peanut dipping sauce the day before and it was even better and saved a lot of time.
  • I used Red Leaf Lettuce instead of Butter Lettuce. No good reason, just availability.
  • To cook the Tofu: I used a 10-ounce piece of Soft Tofu and cut it into wide strips. I sprayed a non-stick frying pan (over medium high heat) with olive oil from my Oil Mister and cooked the tofu in batches so they would brown, 10-minutes per side.
  • To moisten the rice paper wraps, I used the same (cooled down) frying pan as it was the perfect shape. BUT, I followed the directions on the package and ONLY let them sit in the hot water for 5 seconds and not 10. This takes a bit of playing around. Expect to use 2 or 3 wraps trying to get the right “softness”.
  • Same goes for rolling – this takes a couple of tries. I decided to make it easy and just fold over each side and then roll, tightening as I went, from the bottom to the top. Easy and sturdy. I still wasted a couple trying to figure it out.
  • In the beginning, I really wanted to stuff the hell out of the them but you can’t. Bittman’s 1/2 cup approximation is pretty on-point, at least, if you want them to close and not rip.
  • My Points Plus calculation is based on the original recipe with my modifications.
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    • EverydayMaven says

      One of the things I love the most about them is they really hold up well when made in advance – makes such an easy and healthy snack or light appetizer!

  1. Scott says

    Excellent as usual…we had some store bought peanut sauce burning a hole in our cabinet so we used that. But I look forward to making your sauce to taste the difference. Good thing because I have a stack of rice sheets now!

    • EverydayMaven says

      Fresh peanut sauce is awesome and addictive! Next time you make them, cut up just a bit extra veg and toss it with a tablespoon or so of the peanut sauce. It’s great on side as little salad with some peanuts on top :)

        • Scott says

          We tried it with your peanut sauce as suggested and it was very good. I think it could substitute for a Thai peanut salad dressing. We’ve used shrimp or chicken in the rolls and they both work well. We just have all of the stuff out on dishes on the table and assemble while were sitting. Slows down the eating process too!

          • EverydayMaven says

            So true – dishes like this totally encourage slow eating which is a great thing!

  2. says

    We love making spring rolls–I serve them as a DIY project at the table so everyone can pick what to include (it’s easier for me, and the kids love it). Also, have you ever tried dry-frying tofu? I don’t like to use non-stick pans, but I have had good luck cooking it without oil as long as you wait for each side to form a crust (so it releases from the pan with a little nudge) before turning it. Thanks for the summer cooking inspiration!
    emmycooks recently posted..Pan-Fried PeppersMy Profile

    • EverydayMaven says

      I hear you Emmy – I only use a non-stick for eggs and a couple other things and never with too high of a heat. I will have to try the dry-fry method next time!

    • EverydayMaven says

      My husband really enjoyed the peanut sauce. I used the remainder as a salad dressing for a quick slaw and it was awesome!

    • EverydayMaven says

      These hold up really well in the fridge once assembled so they make a great starter (made in advance)!

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