I’m sure I’m not the only one, but every time I see vegetable spring rolls at a buffet or on a menu I just have to make a bee-line straight to them. I can’t help it – they’re just so irresistible with the crunchy pastry that’s oh so crisp and mildly spiced shredded vegetables stuffed to the brim inside. Spring Rolls are to Chinese cuisine what Samosa are to Indian cuisine – nobody can resist, and for good reason!
Having said that, I’ve had plenty of bad Spring Rolls in my time. Ranging from mislabelled vegetarian spring rolls which turned out to be meat (luckily I always check first!) to soggy wrappers, greasy wrappers and lacklustre fillings packed full of just cabbage – I’ve experienced it all.
These vegetable spring rolls are absolutely nothing like that. They’re so crispy that when I was cutting them open the pastry shattered! They’re light and completely non-greasy, which makes them so addictive and moreish without any bad aftertaste or guilt. The vegetable stuffing inside is subtly seasoned with the deep richness of soy sauce, nuttiness of sesame oil and pungent spice of garlic & green chillis which allows the flavour of the vegetables to shine through. A flirtatious sprinkling of sesame seeds on top just finishes it off marvellously.
If you haven’t accidentally eaten 20 spring rolls all at once because they were so good, you haven’t tasted proper spring rolls!
These Vegetable Spring Rolls are Vegan and Nut Free!
Yes, you read that right! This recipe is Vegan, Dairy Free and Nut Free, which means it’s great for people with allergies.
Please note that you do need to be careful about Spring Roll Wrappers being Dairy Free or Vegan – some of the more popular brands have milk in them. As always, especially if you have allergies, make sure you scan the ingredients throughly. I recommend Taj Spring Roll Pastry, which is both Vegan and Dairy Free.
The recipe is not Gluten Free as the Spring Roll Wrappers are made with wheat flour. However, the rest of the recipe (fillings etc) is completely Gluten Free, so if you can get hold of or make your own Gluten Free Spring Roll Wrappers it would be perfect.
Let’s talk about the Ingredients.
These spring rolls are packed full of colourful vegetables! I chose a selection of vegetables which I think work well with Asian flavours – cabbage, green beans, carrots and beansprouts.
The beansprouts I used in this dish are my homegrown ones made from Moong Beans. Sprouting beans is incredibly easy to do and I find it’s an absolutely great thing to have in the fridge or the freezer, as I love adding my home-grown spouts to meals like these! They add a wonderful sweet crispness.
I haven’t added many flavourings to the stuffings of these spring rolls as I want the taste and freshness of the vegetables to shine through. However, there are two ingredients which are so important to the flavouring of the dish – Sesame Oil and Shiitake Mushrooms.
A good toasted quality sesame oil will make all the difference. The oil coats the vegetables perfectly with a subtle nutty, rich, earthy and slightly smokey flavour – and the aroma is out of these world! I recommend this great quality, organic sesame oil.
Finally, the shiitake mushrooms – a cornerstone of authentic vegetable spring rolls. You may have heard the word ‘umami’ thrown around a lot in reference to mushrooms, and that’s because it really is the perfect descriptor. Umami is an intensely savoury flavour which is deep, nutty, meaty, earthy and incredibly well rounded. Mushrooms are a prime example of these flavour, and Shiitake in particular are perfect with a rich, buttery and smoky flavour. I’ve chosen to use dried shiitake mushrooms and then rehydrate them. The dried mushrooms pack a punch of flavour and are more more economical than the fresh variety – plus I can use them whenever I need to for delicious recipes!
You can try variations on this recipe too!
If you want to include even more vegetables, some great ones to add would be onions, snow peas, spring onions, bamboo shoots, or even multicoloured bell peppers (capsicum). Additionally, you could mix a few herbs into the vegetables like Chinese chives or Coriander.
Another wonderful addition for some added flavour and protein would be tofu. This is a traditional ingredient and would taste absolutely wonderful if marinated the night before, cut into thin strips, and then added to the spring rolls. If you’re interested in adding tofu, do consider checking out my post about how to make your own tofu – it’s so much more delicious than store-bought!
Can you make these Spring Rolls ahead of time or freeze them?
Yes you can! These spring rolls are absolutely perfect to make ahead of time or to freeze. You can do all the prep-work and rolling and then freeze the spring rolls to cook whenever you want.
To freeze the spring rolls, first lay them out on a baking sheet and put into the freezer until just frozen. Then you can remove them from the baking sheet and place them into an airtight bag or container. This first step stops them from sticking together, making them much easier to cook later. They will last in the freezer indefinitely, but taste within the first 2 months of freezing.
Frozen spring rolls should be cooked directly after removing from the freezer – no need to defrost them. However, do bare in mind that because the spring rolls are so cold they will bring the temperature of your oil down quite a lot when you’re deep-frying them. So try not to overcrowd the pan and cook in smaller batches for the best results. Also, be careful around hot oil – when you add the cold spring rolls to hot oil it may bubble and spit, so exercise caution and keep your distance.
If baking, they will take a little longer to cook than freshly made ones – allow around 40 minutes, but do check on your oven periodically as this depends on the size of your rolls and your oven.
This Recipe is …
- Vegan, Dairy Free and Nut Free
- Simple and easy – no cooking of the vegetables
- Full of simple but impactful flavours
- Great for snacking!
- Non-greasy while being really crispy
- Can be baked or fried!
- Easy to freeze
If you’re interested in other Starter recipes, do check out my Vegetable Samosa which are stuffed with spiced potato and peas; these Vegan Seekh Kebabs made from Soy Chunks; Mushroom Arancini stuffed with oozy, gooey mozzarella; Instant South Indian Rava Idli made from semolina and yoghurt or Medu Vada, savoury doughnuts made from lentils – both amazing with Vegetable Sambar.
How to Serve Vegetable Spring Rolls?
These vegetable spring rolls taste incredible when eaten on their own. Honestly, I could probably get through the whole batch by myself if you left me alone with them! However, a dipping sauce really elevates the humble spring roll to another level. In Shanghai these spring rolls are traditionally served with a Chinese Black Vinegar. However, if you’ve ever eaten at Chinatown (we’ve all scoffed about 20 mini Spring Rolls at a Chinese buffet, right?!) there’s a good chance you’ll have been served many dipping sauces, from Hot Chilli Sauce, Sweet Chilli Sauce, Soy Sauce, Plum Sauce, or Chilli Garlic Sauce, just to name a few. I chose to serve mine with a Hot Chilli Sauce, but it’s really up to your own personal preferences.
Of course, although the spring rolls are an amazing snack, you may sometimes want to up the ante and serve them as part of a larger meal. Any East-Asian courses would work here, but I love to serve them with Indo-Chinese style dishes like Gobi Manchurian or Chilli Tofu!