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I like sweet and savory things in unexpected combinations. Surprised? Probably not. Just look at my history with this eggplant salad and this nectarine grilled cheese. But this cucumber melon spring roll recipe is delicious. And the opposite of weird. I promise.
First, there’s sweet summer melon. I used a standard variety cantaloupe to start, but you could easily use your favorite variety. I suggest trying a piel de sapo, canary, or charentais if you can find some different varieties. Stick with the muskmelon varieties though. Watermelon will make these spring rolls too soggy.
Second, there’s cool and crisp cucumber. Again, you can stick with what you find at the grocery story but I encourage you to explore a farmers market and try an Armenian cucumber, English cucumber, or even a lemon cucumber for this cucumber melon spring roll.
Next on the ingredient list is tempeh, a fermented soybean product that’s full of beneficial probiotics. I often get this brand from my local food co-op. Tempeh has a slightly nutty flavor, and frying it give it a great texture.
Side story: my friend once did a secret sandwich pop up. I order sandwiches from a man with a bow tie lurking on a street corner. The omnivore option was a fried chicken sandwich. The vegetarian/vegan version was a fried tempeh sandwich. The fried tempeh sandwich changed my life. I now only fry my tempeh. It was that good.
And now back to this cucumber melon spring roll! The thin rice noodles round out these spring rolls with a hint of salt and chewy springiness. By themselves, the spring rolls are a little nutty, sweet, salty, crunchy, and soft. Dipped in this awesome avocado cilantro dressing, it’s the only thing I want to make when it’s more than 90 degrees outside. Which is right now. Until next week. Save me. I’m ready for fall.
But until then, I’ll be eating these refreshing cucumber melon spring rolls. And I hope you’ll join me.
Cucumber Melon Spring Roll with Tempeh Strips
Heat 4 cups of salted water to a slow boil. Remove from heat.
Place rice noodles into the hot water until soft. When noodles have cooked, remove to stop cooking. Drain water into a 9-inch pie pan until bottom is just covered. You’ll use this to soften the rice paper wrappers.
While noodles are cooking, heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in a pan over medium high heat. When oil is hot, lay one third of the strips of tempeh and fry, flipping once, until crisp and golden. Repeat with remaining oil and tempeh.
To assemble each spring roll, fully submerge dry rice paper wrapper in hot water for 2 to 5 seconds. I like to dip half the wrapper in the pie pan, then spin the wrapper quickly until the whole wrapper has been moistened.
Lay moist wrapper flat on a cutting board. Fill the bottom third of the wrapper with layers of cucumber, melon, noodles, and tempeh.
Fold wrapper tightly over ingredients toward the center. Fold in the sides of the wrapper. Continue to roll toward the top of the wrapper, keeping the sides tucked in as you go.
Serve with avocado cilantro dressing.
I’ve used both brown rice paper wrappers and white rice paper wrappers and have found the brown rice wrappers are a bit more finicky. They soften more quickly and tear more easily. So I recommend the white rice paper wrappers (<-affiliate), like the ones pictured here. Look for them at an asian market or in the international section of your local grocery store.
While the tempeh is protein packed, you could opt to add grilled chicken or pork to these spring rolls. A sweet and spicy marinade would be ideal for the meat, with soy, ginger, honey and sesame.
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