School holidays have rolled around again, and I hear many parents breathing a sigh of relief at having a break from the challenge of trying to pack healthy lunches that will stay fresh until lunch time and not return home uneaten at the end of the day. So over the next few posts I’ll be sharing some lunch box ideas to inspire the lunch box packers among you. I’ll include some of the dishes that I made with a group of upper primary school students as part of a healthy lunchbox program, so I’m confident you’ll find them to be child-friendly in both the making and the eating.
Rice paper rolls are a great way to infuse a lunch box with fresh flavours and veggie goodness – and kids love to make them. Give them a hand with the prep and they will happily fold and roll away while you get on with your morning. And nothing makes them more likely to eat the lot at lunchtime than knowing that they made them themselves!
Vary the ingredients to whatever takes your fancy – I like to add slivers of capsicum, carrot or cucumber, as well as protein sources such as marinated tofu or thin slices of omelette. Experiment and see what you like best.
Rice Paper Rolls
150g rice vermicelli noodles
2 medium carrots, peeled, grated
Small bunch coriander
Small bunch mint
10-15 lettuce leaves, finely shredded
25 rice paper wrappers
Spicy Dipping Sauce
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely grated ginger
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 small lemon
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
½ cup sweet chilli sauce
To make the rice paper rolls: place noodles in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 5 minutes to soften. Drain and refresh under cold water.
Coarsely chop the mint and coriander and place into a small bowl. Arrange the lettuce, grated carrot and rice noodles in separate bowls within easy reach of your working space.
To assemble the rice paper rolls, fill a medium bowl with lukewarm water, immerse a rice paper round in the water for 30 seconds or until softened and pliable. (It is important not to leave the rice paper in the water for too long, as it will start to tear making it difficult to handle.)
Transfer rice paper to a clean, wooden chopping board and place about a tablespoonful of rice noodles across the wrapper (in the shape of a small log) about one-third of the way from the bottom. Leave a little space at either end to seal the roll later.
Over the noodles lay a small amount of each of the lettuce, carrot and herbs.
Fold the bottom edge of the rice paper over the filling and, securing the filling with your fingers, roll up tightly to form a neat roll leaving the ends open.
Place roll in an airtight container or cover with a clean damp tea towel to prevent from drying out. Repeat with remaining rice paper and filling ingredients.
Place roll immediately into an airtight container, or cover with another clean, damp tea towel to prevent from drying out. Repeat with remaining rice paper and filling ingredients. Store in a closely fitting, airtight container until serving.
To make the dipping sauce: combine all ingredients before placing into serving bowls. If you want to make the sauce beforehand, bring it up to room temperature before serving.