Holiday entertaining during this year of COVID will not be as animated as in years past. Large gatherings are discouraged, in the extreme. Travel has been dramatically curtailed. For many of us, that means staying at home.
But that doesn’t persuade us to skip wrapping the fence in the front yard with colored lights. It doesn’t stop us from anchoring a green wreath on the front door, standing a fir tree in the corner of the family room near the bookcase or wrapping gifts in bright paper.
And it most definitely will not prevent us from filling the house with the scents of the season: ginger and cinnamon, pine and citrus, vanilla and peppermint. It’s the holidays, after all. And we cook.
As health issues increasingly compel people around the world to steer clear of gluten, we all hunt for ways to prepare familiar (and novel) foods without leaning on wheat. At Simply Food, we turn to another grain — rice, which does not contain gluten — for our gluten-free culinary craft and inspiration.
We don’t sell the rice itself. Instead, our artisans craft the grain into different kinds of noodles and sheets of rice paper. Both offer immense options for holiday gluten-free entertaining, even if this year’s holiday party is just mom, dad, three kids and three grandparents.
If nothing else, we at Simply Food think the holidays of 2020 serve as excellent opportunities to experiment with new gluten-free entertaining dishes. Nail them this year. As soon as things begin to return to normal and entertaining rises again, you’ll have an arsenal of preparations made for gluten-free entertaining across the year.
Here, we focus on rice paper; we will turn to noodles in a future post. Think rice paper is only good for spring and egg rolls? Sorry. These majestic products, which when crafted by true noodle masters (such as at Simply Food) are feats of culinary artisanship, are wonderful in myriad preparations.
Rainbow Vegan Rice Paper Rolls
Before pivoting to using rice paper for a diversity of dishes, everything from apple pie to chips and dip, we will dive into rice paper rolls, also known as spring rolls. Not only do spring rolls offer the most commonly known use of rice paper, they also are outstanding and versatile for gluten-free holiday entertaining.
Scholars believe that rice paper rolls were invented in China, and eaten seasonally. In the spring, people would celebrate the season’s vegetables by wrapping them in pancakes. Thus was born the name “spring rolls.”
Their popularity migrated far beyond China’s borders, and were embraced with immense passion in Southeast Asia. In Vietnam, rice paper rolls are called gỏi cuốn, and rather than spring rolls are often referred to as “summer rolls” and “salad rolls.”
In Vietnam, rice paper rolls often contain pork, rice noodle, cucumber, carrot and herbs, such as cilantro and basil. They normally are served at room temperature, with different dipping sauces. Hoisin-based sauces normally contain chili, hoisin sauce, peanut butter and sugar. Another sauce, called nước chấm, involves fish sauce, lime, garlic, sugar and chilies.
In this colorful recipe, we use Simply Food fresh rice vermicelli and Simply Food rice paper to wrap vegetables, herbs and tofu. We offer a hoisin dipping sauce to accompany this delicious and eye-catching dish for entertaining.
For Rainbow Rolls:
- 7 ounces of SIMPLY FOOD Fresh Rice Vermicelli
- 12 pieces of SIMPLY FOOD Rice Paper
- 3 ounces of Yellow Bell Pepper
- 3 ounces of Carrot
- 1 ounces of Wood Ear Mushroom
- 2 ounces of Cucumber
- 3 ounces of Red Cabbage
- 3 ounces of Salad
- 1 ounces of Mint
- 10 ounces fried tofu
- Suitable amount green onions
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon bouillon powder
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
For Dipping Sauce:
- 2 ounces Hoisin sauce
- 150 ml water
- 1 ounce sugar
- 1 ounce roasted peanuts
For rice paper rolls:
- In a pan with cooking oil, fry the tofu until golden and then thinly julienne.
- Prepare Simply Food Rice Vermicelli in cold water for 5 minutes to soften, then cook in boiling water for 5 minutes. Rinse briefly under cold water and drain.
- Prep the ingredients by thinly julienning carrots, yellow pepper and cucumber. Thinly slice the red cabbage. Soak the wood ear mushroom and julienne.
- In a separate pan, add cooking oil and green onions. Add carrots, stir fry until cooked, and set aside. Repeat this process for the yellow pepper and the red cabbage. Set each stir-fried vegetable aside on a separate plate.
- In a clean pan, add cooking oil and green onions. Add wood ear mushroom, soy sauce, bouillon powder and sugar until everything is cooked.
- Dampen a Simply Food Rice Paper sheet with water on both sides to soften. For each rice paper roll, place a desired amount of vegetables and Simply Food Rice Vermicelli on each piece of rice paper, and tightly wrap to create a spring roll.
For Dipping Sauce:
- Dissolve water, hoisin sauce, sugar and soy sauce in the pan over medium heat until well combined.
- When the mixture comes to a boil, add peanut butter and dissolve.
- Place the sauce in a bowl and sprinkle some roasted peanuts and shredded carrot on top.
- Dip the rice paper rolls into the sauce to enjoy!
Gluten-Free Chips and French Onion Dip
Corn chips are gluten-free, and wonderful with certain foods, most notably salsa and other Mexican dishes. But corn offers a strong flavor profile. Sometimes it clashes with other foods. And while most of us like potato chips, sometimes we just need to shake up the chips-and-dip platter.
Rice paper to the rescue. Turning paper-thin discs of rice into triangular gluten-free chips is easy. Just cut the disc into triangles, as you would a pizza pie (scissors are ideal), slip them into a vessel with hot oil, and the rice paper instantly puffs up and simultaneously crisps while becoming pliable. They are addictive. Swab them through bowls of hummus or queso. Top them with schmears of cream cheese and strips of smoked salmon. Dust them with powdered sugar and cinnamon, and serve them on platters. Most importantly, keep on experimenting!
- 2 sheets Simply Food Spring Roll Rice Paper
- Vegetable oil
For French Onion dip:
- 2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
- 1 cup diced onion
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups sour cream
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
Directions for chips:
Cut rice wrappers into wedges using scissors. Pour oil into a skillet over medium heat until it rises to about 1 inch of depth. Once the oil is hot enough, slide a rice paper wedge into the oil and fry until crisp; this can be as quickly as 2 seconds. Remove wedge from oil with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Fry the rest of the wedges in the same manner.
Directions for French Onion Dip
In a sauté pan over medium heat add oil. Once hot, add onions and salt. Gently heat the onions until they are caramelized and silky, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. Mix together the rest of the ingredients, and then add to the bowl the onions. Refrigerate. Stir before serving.
Vegetarian Quinoa Black Bean Chili in Gluten-Free Rice Paper Cups
Unlike other chips, those made from rice paper turn pliable while remaining sturdy when damp. This means cooks can cut squares or circles out of sheets of rice paper, slick them with water until they easily bend, and push them into the wells of muffin tins, with the rice paper pressed against the wells’ bottoms and rising up their sides.
The rice-paper-lined muffin tins then get popped in the oven and baked until the rice paper turn gold and crisp. Voila — nearly instant edible cups. Fill them with guacamole and garnish with cilantro. Puddle a bit of tomato sauce along the bottom and drop a meatball in the cup. Fill with chocolate mousse and dab with raspberry jam. When arrayed on platters on tables or carried through parties by servers as passed plates, these gluten-free treats go fast.
This gluten-free recipe uses portions of simple, and highly flavorful, vegetarian black bean and quinoa chili in each cup. But as we already know, these cups can hold just about whatever you desire.
For rice paper cups:
- 4 sheets square Simply Food Spring Roll Rice Paper
For rice paper cups:
- Use scissors to cut each wrapper into squares that when pressed into a muffin tin fill the entire well, with the rice paper edges rising above the top of the well. If you would like sturdier cups, first cut a rectangle out of the rice paper sheet large enough that when folded in half lengthwise, will become a square that will fit into muffin tin wells with sides rising up over the edges of the well.
- Grease the insides of a muffin tin.
- Dip each rice paper rectangle into water, and then fold in half lengthwise into squares. Press each pliable square into a greased muffin tin. Place the tin into a 350 oven for between 30 and 40 minutes — the cups should be crispy.
- Combine washed quinoa with 1 ½ cups water in a pot, and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover with lid. Simmer for 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Remove from heat.
- Heat olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add garlic and onion. Stir frequently, until onions become translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in quinoa, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chiles, chili powder, sweet paprika, cumin, and 1-2 cups of water, making sure to cover ingredients in pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. The chili should thicken. Once the chili reaches desired thickness, stir in beans, corn, cilantro and lime juice. Heat for about 2 minutes, until chili is at desired serving temperature.
- Serve immediately.
- 1 package Simply Food Spring Fry Roll Rice Paper
- 1 lb ground pork
- ¼ head of Napa cabbage, sliced thin and chopped
- 3 scallions, white and light green portions sliced thin
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons Tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying
- Cut rice paper wrappers in half with scissors. Dip one of them in hot water, and then lay the wrapper on a flat surface. Place 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center of the dumpling.
- Fold the wrapper around the filling. Make sure to seal the wrapper all of the way around the filling. Lay the dumpling on parchment paper.
- Perform the above steps with each rice paper half until they are all used.
- Dumplings can be steamed, boiled or pan-fried. For this recipe, we will focus on steamed.
- Arrange the dumplings on a bamboo steamer (or any other steamer) lined with cabbage leaves, or just arranged on the bamboo. Make sure that the dumplings do not touch, or they will stick when cooked.
- Place the steamer on top of a pot of boiling water and steam for about 15-20 minutes.
- Place dumplings on a plate. Serve as is, or with dipping sauces.
- 25 tail-on deveined shrimp
- 15 square Simply Food Spring Fry Roll Rice Paper, cut in half
- Oil for frying
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ½ tsp grated ginger
- 1 scallion, white and light green parts sliced thin
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons preferred Asian sweet chili sauce
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ¼ cup water
- Combine all chili marinade ingredients in a bowl of Ziplock bag, place shrimp in marinade and mix around to ensure all shrimp have been coated in marinade. Let sit for about 20 minutes.
- Use a paper towel to remove excess marinade from each shrimp.
- Moisten a triangle of Simply Food rice paper wrapper and place on a flat surface. Have the triangle appear in the shape of a pyramid before you, with the pointed peak at the top and the other peaks forming the two sides of the base of the pyramid. Lay one of the shrimp a few inches towards the middle from one of the bottom points, with the tail sticking out past the edge of the rice paper. Fold the nearest point over the shrimp, and then pull the top of the pyramid down over the shrimp. Now just roll the shrimp tightly in the rice paper. Once the entire shrimp, with the exception of the tail, is wrapped in rice paper, use some of the cornstarch paste to seal the package.
- Perform the same folding and rolling procedure for each shrimp.
- Fry in hot oil, about 375 degrees, until shrimp are golden.
- Serve with a sweet chili dipping sauce.
- 8-12 cups diced apples
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 Tbs maple syrup
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 package Simply Food Spring Roll Rice Paper
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Mix diced apple with brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon.
- Fill large mixing bowl about 1/4 full with warm water. One sheet at a time, dip rice paper into water and soak briefly, until it is pliable.
- Place rice paper on counter or cutting board and place up to 2 tbs of apple mixture in center. Fold bottom of rice paper up over apples first, then fold sides over the mixture, and finally fold down the top.
- Perform the procedure until the filling is finished.
- Place on pan lined with parchment paper, and brush apple hand pie with oil.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until hand pie is golden and filling is cooked.