I never know what to call these. They seem to go by many names: summer rolls, rice paper rolls, Vietnamese spring rolls … shall I continue? I wrote about my first attempt a few years ago, and if you haven’t made these before, head over there for more details and pictures that will probably be helpful. But then come back here, because while those are more colorful, these win (hands down!) when it comes to flavor.

I’ve been loving the combination of apples and mint lately (see my purple cabbage salad with apple and mint), and since the rice paper has no flavor of its own, bold flavors are key. I’ve used: apple, mint, bok choy, scallions, green pepper and vermicelli. You can change it up to suit your tastes, but make sure to include some herbs.

These are good all summer, but are especially relevant now as we head into the Nine Days—the annual mourning period for the destruction of the Holy Temple, during which we refrain from eating meat or chicken.


  • 1-2 heads baby bok choy
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 green apple
  • 3 scallions
  • 2 oz vermicelli rice noodles
  • Handful of mint leaves
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • 10 rice paper sheets


  1. Prepare all the fillings before you begin: Soak the vermicelli in hot water for 5 minutes, until soft. Drain and set aside. Slice the green parts of the bok choy and scallions. Pick the mint leaves. Julienne the peppers and apples (cover the apples with cold water to keep them white and crisp). Lay out all the fillings in small bowls around your work area, or line them up on a cutting board.
  2. Lay out a piece of parchment paper. This will be your workspace, so the rice paper doesn’t stick to your countertop or cutting board. Prepare a dish of water. The dish should be large enough to fit the rice paper wrapper into, so use a large plate, casserole dish or baking pan.
  3. Submerge the first rice paper wrapper in the water for 10-15 seconds. Remove and place on the parchment paper. It should still be firm, because it will continue to soften while you fill it. If you soak it until it’s completely soft, it will be too difficult to work with.
  4. Layer your filling ingredients on the first third of the wrapper, but not quite at the edge (see pictures here from the last time I made these). Try to sandwich the firmer items (the apples and green peppers) between the softer items. This will make the rice paper less likely to tear.
  5. By now the rice paper should be soft and pliable. Gently fold the two sides in, so they cover some of the filling on each end. Then roll up tightly, tucking the ingredients in gently with your fingers as you go, if necessary. Place on the side and continue until you’ve rolled all 10. Cut in half and serve with the peanut dipping sauce (recipe below).

NOTE: These do not store well. You can prep the vegetables in advance, but do not assemble and roll until within an hour of eating.

TIP: You might have trouble rolling the first few. The rice paper is fragile and can tear. But if you are consistently finding it impossible to work with, try a different brand. There are some that are simply unworkable (in my experience). I’ve been very happy with the Natural Earth brand.

Peanut Sauce

  • ¼ cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
  • ½ tsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp sriracha
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of ginger
  • Optional garnish: peanuts, sesame seeds, crushed red pepper flakes

Start with the peanut butter. Add the liquids a little at a time, mixing in one direction until incorporated. If you add it all at the same time, it will become piecey. If you like more heat, add more sriracha or a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Note: You can make this sauce punchier by using fresh ginger and adding some crushed garlic cloves, too.