If you are up to your eyeballs in eggnog, you’re probably in desperate need of a detox. And by detox, we mean a truckload of fresh fruits and vegetables prepared as minimally as possible, because you have things to do! And we’re not just talking any vegetables. We’re talking super cruciferous vegetables, full of the good fuel that your body needs to rev up for the new year.
Though the term may be unfamiliar, cruciferous vegetables are not. Arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and radishes are among many vegetables in the cruciferous family, which are prized for their flavour, texture, and nutrients. Chef Katherine Polenz says, “Cruciferous vegetables are underutilized, but are so rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients. Dark leafy kale is high in minerals and proteins, and provides a great textural addition.”
This Vegetable Spring Rolls recipe is packed full of these super-vegetables, which means it’s also full of antioxidants; fiber; vitamins C, E, and K; and folate. We’ve added some creamy hummus and the ultra-flavourful dukkah spice blend.
An aromatic spice blend with Egyptian roots, dukkah is unique because it includes seeds and nuts, like hazelnuts, pistachios, and sesame seeds, which adds a welcome richness to vegetarian recipes. Dukkah is commonly used as a seasoning on traditional flatbreads, but once you try it, you’ll be hard pressed to find something that couldn’t use a sprinkle. It should be easy to find at your local grocery store or specialty market.
To pair with the spices, we’ve added some of our favourite crunchy cruciferous veggies, which also happen to be vibrant in flavour and colour. Each vegetable, from the kohlrabi (kind of like radish/broccoli) to the watermelon radish, lends a new flavour and texture to the spring roll, so each bite is unique. The beauty of this recipe is that you can mix and match your favouriteflavours, adding broccoli, shredded cabbage, or even tofu.
We call for most of the vegetables to be julienned, which is a cut in the shape of a thin matchstick. This cut is perfect for a spring roll, because it’s big enough to be crunchy, but thin enough to bite through. The best way to cut a julienne is to slice each vegetable about 1/8-inch thick, then cut those slices into matchsticks. A mandolin will do it twice as fast, if you have one.
Once you have your juliennes in order, it’s time to give the kale a little extra attention. Kale is a needy vegetable—though to be fair, it really does a lot of work for us, and we probably owe it a good massage from time to time. If you’ve ever declared, “Ugh, I hate kale,” it’s probably because it wasn’t properly coaxed and coddled into a good mood.
For sciency reasons (enzymes, compounds), kale benefits from a literal massage, where you take the leaves and rub them together until they soften. You will see a notable change in the appearance of the leaves, which will turn a more vibrant shade of green, and they will also be much softer and more tender. The kale will also be sweeter.
Serve these spring rolls as a light lunch, on a platter as a party snack, or alongside a nice veggie soup for a satisfying dinner. And if a raw, vegetarian spring roll is going a little too cold turkey, we’ll look the other way if you want to add some grilled shrimp or chicken. Maybe just not that leftover prime rib.
VEGETABLE SPRING ROLLS
Start to finish: 45 minutes
1 cup plain yogurt
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
Sea salt, to taste
6 to 8 leaves lacinato (or Tuscan) kale
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
12 spring roll wrappers
1 cup hummus
1 kohlrabi, peeled and julienned
1 watermelon radish, peeled and julienned
2 tablespoons Egyptian dukkah spice blend, plus more as needed
4 green onions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup cilantro or mint leaves
1 daikon radish, peeled and julienned
4 red radishes, julienned
3 small (or 1 medium) beets, peeled and julienned
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Toasted black sesame seeds
In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine, then cover and refrigerate.
Trim the stems from the kale leaves and cut the leaves into 4-inch squares (you will need 12 total). Transfer the kale to a large resealable bag and add the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Seal the bag and gently massage the leaves to tenderize the kale.
Fill a large shallow bowl with warm water. One at a time, dip the spring roll wrappers into the water and soak until just pliable, about 10 seconds. Remove from the water and lay on a clean work surface and blot the wrap to remove any excess water.
Starting at about 1 inch from the lower edge, place a square of the massaged kale, then spread about 1 tablespoon of hummus across the kale. Top with a thin layer of kohlrabi and watermelon radish. Sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon of dukkah, about 1 tablespoon of green onion, and about 1 tablespoon of herbs. Top with a layer of daikon, red radish, and beet, then season with additional dukkah or salt and pepper, to taste.
Dampen your fingertips. Carefully, but firmly, pull the lower edge of the wrap up and over the filling to start the roll. After the first full rotation, fold in each side of the wrap to close in the ends and continue to roll closed, ending with the seam-side down.
Transfer the completed roll to a platter, and then continue to form 12 rolls. Do not stack the finished rolls, as they will stick together if touching. Cover the finished rolls with lightly oiled parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To serve the spring rolls, use a very sharp knife to cut each roll in half. Drizzle with the reserved lemon yogurt sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Chef’s Note: If kohlrabi or watermelon radishes are unavailable, substitute with an equal amount of prepared broccoli slaw mix, jicama, or chayote squash.