Make Your Summer Salad Portable With A Rice Paper Wrap

In the warmer months, when the sun takes its rightful place in the sky and everything beneath it turns green and fruitful, it's like the world around us becomes a smorgasbord of tasty fresh food. While it's almost impossible to drive by McDonald's without stopping during the dark days of January, come hot and sticky July, we can think of nothing more satisfying than the juicy red tomatoes growing in the garden. Unfortunately, a traditional salad doesn't travel quite as well as a fast food cheeseburger. With the help of rice paper wraps, however, you can make your favorite summer salad a handheld snack.

Made from rice flour and tapioca starch, rice paper is commonly used in the making of Vietnamese spring rolls. The dried discs are rehydrated when briefly dipped in water — turning them translucent and malleable — and filled with copious amounts of fresh herbs, often vermicelli noodles, and sometimes pork or shrimp. While they can be deep fried, they often aren't, making the spring rolls like tiny salad burritos. Using this technique, we can take any salad perfectly suited to summertime and transform it into portable and oh-so-dippable salad spring rolls. (If you're not sure how to best pair your dipping sauce to your salad, we've compiled a list of our favorite types of salad dressing and when you should use them.)

Dampen, roll, and dip!

While the idea of folding rice paper wraps may feel like extra work when you're simply craving salad, it's fairly easy if you keep a few things in mind. Mainly, the texture of the rice paper wraps needs to be just right in order to encapsulate all of your goodies and maintain structure. Although they do need to be rehydrated in order to be workable, you don't want the wraps to be too wet.

Try dipping the edge in a bowl of water and quickly rotating it to dampen the perimeter before allowing it to rest a moment while the water softens the starches. It should be soft but not gooey or mushy. Make sure to read the directions before beginning, as some wraps require warm water while others call for cold.

When it comes to filling your rice paper wraps, the options are endless. Some days, you may prefer a more traditional shrimp spring roll recipe loaded with lettuce, carrot, cucumber, mint, and cilantro. Others, you may opt for something sweeter, like a wrap filled with spinach, sliced strawberries, pecans, goat cheese, and basil. Just be sure to have all of your ingredients sliced and prepped for easy building, and don't overstuff them! Once ready, simply fold the wrap the same way you would a burrito. Because any salad worth its salt comes complete with killer dressing, don't forget to have your favorite salad dressing ready to use as a salad spring roll dipping sauce.