How do you make summer rolls? I like to put tofu roasted in peanut satay sauce and surrounded by fresh fruits, veggies and fresh basil leaves. Plus, I get to use dragon fruit in this recipe and it made me beyond happy. The dragon fruit in this recipe definitely steals the show!
I haven’t had summer rolls since I left NJ.
I have missed eating summer rolls and I thought it was about time I made my version of summer rolls because they are just too darn irresistible!
These are so colorful, aren’t they? I tried to capture as much vibrancy of summer as I could into this recipe.
Tips for working with dragon fruit
Use a butter knife
I think this might cause some controversy, but, I don’t like using regular knives on dragon fruit. I use butter knife which is gentler on the dragon fruit. Plus, butter knife leaves ridge like cutting on the dragon fruit which gives them good texture in any recipe where they are the star.
Refrigerate until ready to use
Dragon fruit works best when its cold. Its easier to cut into or shape. If you are using a melon baller, you will find it easier to make tiny balls out of it when it has been chilled for about an hour. Also, do not freeze them because they will be a mess when thawed out.
Look for the greenest “cacti” leaves
When you are at the grocery store and you see a basket full of dragon fruit, how do you know which one to get? You want to pick the “not-yet-ripe” dragon fruit. The un-ripe ones will have brighter pink or red skin. The green cacti leafs are sharp and point-y! Also, the fruit is firm when you try to squeeze it.
When the fruit begins to ripen, you will notice that its softer when you squeeze it. Also, the green leaves are droop-y and have started to brown. Also, the outer red color looks darker. That’s when you know that the fruit is ripe and ready to eat.
The riper the fruit, the sweeter it tastes. So, I like to bring the unripe ones home from the grocery store and store them in a dark corner for a day before refrigerating it.
What fruits should I put in summer rolls?
Any fruit that is in season can work in the summer roll. The only exception I would say would be bananas. They just don’t roll well.
Here are some fruits I use in summer rolls
- Peaches / Nectarines
The possibilities are infinite, so, go nuts with our choice of fruits
What is the difference between summer rolls and spring rolls?
Nothing! They are both the same recipe. Having said that, I have seen spring rolls are referred to vegetarian / vegan recipes only. Also, spring rolls can be fried and use wonton paper instead of rice paper.
However, for the most part, summer rolls and spring rolls are the same thing. They are so colorful and represent the vibrancy of both summer and spring.
How do you like to refer to them?
How to serve summer rolls?
Cut the summer rolls into half and serve with my homemade peanut satay sauce. I like to dip the summer rolls in the peanut satay sauce and devour them immediately.
I also baked the tofu after coating them in the same peanut satay sauce. For me, tofu tastes better when its cooked in some way. Cooked tofu is easier to digest, in my opinion.
Also, the peanut satay sauce really flavors the tofu and the other ingredients. It adds so much flavor to the rolls.
P/S: If you find yourself in Long Branch, NJ Check out The Ocean Cafe. They make amazing rolls along with other delicious recipes. They are not paying me to talk about them. I am just a huge fan of their food.
What is dragon fruit?
Dragon fruit is one of my favorite fruits in the world. It has a very unique shape and gets its name because they look like dragon eggs.
Their real name is Pitaya or Pitahaya which is part of cactus family. They look like cactus, don’t they?
Dragon fruit is from Mexico and the Central American region where its very popular. However, they became a huge part of the Chinese diet a few decades ago and that’s why you might see them in some of their cuisine.
Today, dragon fruit is grown in US (California, Florida, Hawaii), Australia and parts of the Caribbean.
If you reside in any of these locations or in a climate where there is no frost or freeze, you could easily grow your own dragon fruit.
While I was researching for this vegan summer rolls post, I discovered that they are surprisingly easy to grow. Check out these videos on you tube that show you how easy it is to grow Dragon Fruit in your backyard.
A friend visited Thailand a few years ago and they sent pics of seeing dragon fruit juice being sold on the side of the road! How cool is that!! I would love to taste their dragon fruit recipe some day.
Its now on my bucket list of things I should try! Have you been lucky enough to drink dragon fruit juice in Thailand? Feel free to brag about it in the comments section.
Types of Dragon Fruits
There are three types of dragon fruit varieties:
- Red dragon fruit (red skinned)
- White dragon fruit (pink skinned)
- Yellow dragon fruit (yellow skinned)
Here, in central Florida, I have only seen the red and white varieties of Dragon fruit. Out west and In Hawaii, you will find the yellow version of dragon fruit.
This is one case where I absolutely have a favorite and that happens to be the RED dragon fruit. That’s what I used in this vegan summer rolls recipe
Red Dragon Fruit
The red dragon fruit is my favorite version. It is “meatier” than the white version and is slightly sweeter too. They are round and have a red skin with green cacti(?) growing out of the skin.
When you cut into it, they are a dark red color and have black seeds in them. Its so colorful that they instantly add color to any recipe that you put them into.
Given their “thickness” and bright color, they are incredibly popular with the smoothie crowd. They make a delicious smoothie bowl, especially when topped with all kinds of healthy ingredients.
White Dragon Fruit
Although the skin is pink, when you cut into it, the dragon fruit is actually white pulp with black seeds. They are longer in shape and have a lighter pink skin.
Just like their red counterpart, white dragon fruit has the consistency of kiwi. Its not as sweet as the red ones and have a very slight tang.
Their white color makes them popular in juice drinks and fruit salads. My favorite recipe is using them in a melon balls type of recipe. It adds such a wonderful contrast to the colors.
I haven’t used them on this blog before, but, I am planning on a delicious summer recipe using the white version. So, stay tuned. In the meantime, tell me how you like to use these white dragon fruits.
Well, in recent years, grocery stores have started putting a label on the outside which shows if the dragon fruit is red or white on the inside.
However, if you come across one that is not labeled, check for 2 things
1) Is it round or long? If its round, it will be red on the inside. If its longer and oblong shaped, then its white on the inside. Red dragon fruit is closer in shape to apple and white dragon fruit is closer in shape to a mango
2) Look at its skin color. This is one time where its ok to judge by the color of the skin. The red dragon fruit have a redder skin on the outside. The white one have a lighter pink skin on the outside.
Vegan Summer Rolls Using Dragon Fruit
For the tofu
- Preheat oven to 375°
- Using a tofu press, remove all the liquid from the tofu block
- Cut tofu into thick, long strips
- Coat each tofu piece with the peanut satay sauce
- Place the coated tofu on a lightly oiled baking tray
- Bake the tofu for about 25 minutes or until they are evenly brown
- Gently scrape the tofu off from the baking tray and set aside
Assemble the Summer Rolls
- Place warm water in a large bowl
- Immerse one rice wrapper into the bowl and remove it quickly
- Place the wet rice paper on a flat surface
- Start by placing 2 basil leaves in the middle of the wrapper
- Add one or two pieces of the baked tofu strip
- Layer with the avocado, dragon fruit, bell pepper, red onions, avocado and mango
- Start wrapping the rolls by folding over the left and right side of the wrapper
- Fold the bottom of the wrapper over the ingredients while pushing the ingredients inwards
- Roll over the top part of the wrapper to close it
- Set it aside and assemble the remaining spring rolls in the same way
- Serve the rolls with my 5-minute homemade peanut satay sauce