Appetizer Recipes

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Cold Spring Rolls

Photo: Randy Graham, Valley Vegetarian

Robin laying veggies in the rice wrapper!

Cold spring rolls are found throughout the world and are definitely not anything like traditional Chinese egg rolls. Egg rolls are typically made with meat, usually pork or chicken, and include vegetables such as cabbage. They are wrapped with a thick egg-based wrapper before being fried.

Spring rolls are thinner, and usually contain vegetables only. While they are often fried, they can also be served cold (not fried). My spring rolls are cold and fresh and feature a rice-based paper wrapper that allows you to see what’s inside!

The wrappers require some skill to get just right. Unless you’ve made these before, you may want to make a couple of practice rolls. It is also important to use fresh ingredients for the filling. This recipe takes about 30 minutes from start to finish and makes eight tasty cold spring rolls.

1 package rice paper spring roll wrappers (remove eight from package)
1 package rice noodles (prepared according to package directions)
4 ounces extra firm organic tofu
2 ripe avocados (peeled and cut in half, pit removed)
1 cucumber (peeled and cut into matchsticks)
1 carrot (peeled and cut into matchsticks)
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves (stems removed)
1 cup fresh mint leaves (stems removed)
Head lettuce (8 leaves)
¾ cup Thai peanut sauce
¼ cup peanuts (chopped)

Dry the vegetables before you start. After preparing rice noodles, allow them to drain in a colander until ready to use. Noodles should be at room temperature.

Cut tofu into ¼-inch slices and then place them between layers of paper towels. Gently press down to absorb as much moisture as possible. Cut into matchsticks similar to the carrot and cucumber matchsticks. Set aside. 

Thinly slice avocados (lengthwise). Set aside.

Dip a sheet of rice paper wrapper into water very quickly (no longer than one second or they will get soggy) and lay flat on a dry work surface. On one edge, lay a small handful of noodles, a few cucumber and carrot matchsticks, a lettuce leaf, a few cilantro leaves, mint leaves, and two or three tofu matchsticks. Lay a slices of avocado on top of that. Do not overstuff.

Fold the bottom of the wrapper over the fillings, firmly tucking them into each other, then fold the sides over the center, and continue rolling until the spring roll is seam side down. Continue until all eight spring rolls are completed.

Pour peanut sauce into a serving dish and sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Serve as a dip for the completed spring rolls.

Tip: Serve immediately- these will dry up so it is best to make just as many as you plan to serve, and store any extra unassembled fillings in refer for use another time.

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Grilled Peach, Brie, and Basil Sandwich

Photo: Randy Graham, Valley VegetarianGive this grilled peach, brie, and basil sandwich a try this weekend. This simple and tasty sandwich will help you get into the groove for outdoor grilling. Continue reading

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Spring Carrot Tart

Photo: Randy Graham, Valley VegetarianMy mom’s mom, Gran, was born and raised on a homested in a one-room cabin in Beresford, South Dakota, in the late 1800s. Winter was a time of ice and snow. In the month of January, the temperature would often drop below zero. Continue reading

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Eggplant and Bell Pepper Terrine

Photo: Randy Graham, Valley Vegetarian

So what is a terrine? My online Apple dictionary defines it as: 1. a meat, fish, or vegetable mixture that has been cooked or otherwise prepared in advance and allowed to cool or set in its container; 2. A container used for such a dish, typically of an oblong shape and made of earthenware. Continue reading

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Savory Chèvre Crepes

Photo: Randy Graham, Valley Vegetarian

Shown with a tomato-rice pilaf.

Chèvre is the French name for cheese made with goat’s milk. Fresh goat cheese is soft, creamy, tangy, and easy to spread or melt. When it is mixed with fresh spinach and a little onion or garlic powder it makes a super-tasty filling. Baby asparagus provides crunch. Good stuff!

The crepe pancakes can be made ahead of time, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to assemble and complete the crepes. Same for the filling.

¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
3 eggs
1 cup whole wheat flour
6 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
10 ounces plain goat cheese
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
16 baby asparagus stalks (tough stems trimmed)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Add all batter ingredients (milk through wheat flour) to a blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for one hour prior to making crepes. Using a small crepe pan (or frying pan), make eight 8-inch crepes (they should resemble thin pancakes). Wrap them in plastic or put in a baggie to keep them from drying out. Set aside.

Blanch spinach leaves by dropping them in boiling water for one minute. Pour spinach into a collendar and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.  Drain, chop, and place spinach in a large mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, cheese, onion and garlic powders, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Mix to combine.

Place three tablespoons of the spinach mixture in the middle of each crepe. Layer two of the asparagus stalks over this. Once you have all the fillings in place, pull the bottom half of the crepes over to meet the top half. Then, pull the top of the crepe back, curling your fingers under the filling. This will form the filling into a roll. Tightly roll the crepes and place, folded side down, in the prepared baking dish.  The crepes should be open at both ends.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove crepes from oven and uncover. Place back in oven and bake for another 10 minutes. Serve with a side of rice and a fresh garden salad.

Photo: Randy Graham, Valley Vegetarian

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Mushroom Goulash

Photo: Randy Graham, Valley Vegetarian

Goulash shown with Spätzle noodles.

The origins of goulash have been traced to the 9th century, to stews eaten by Magyar (Hungarian) shepherds. Before setting out with their flocks, the shepherds prepared a portable stock of food by slowly cooking cut-up meats with onions and other flavorings until the liquids had been absorbed. This stew was then dried in the sun and packed into bags made of sheep’s stomachs. At mealtime, water was added to a portion of the meat to reconstitute it, and the stew heated to taste. Continue reading

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