Introducing LexKooks, a delightful culinary initiative founded by a passionate 16-year-old chef, B.T — a Minuteman senior with a remarkable flair for the culinary arts. Inspired by the expertise of her own mother, a seasoned chef, and with four years of home cooking experience of her own, she’s eager to transform her love for food into this nonprofit venture in collaboration with LexObserver. Alongside crafting delectable recipes for LexKooks, B.T dedicates her time to volunteering at LexEatTogether, a local non-profit providing free weekly meals. With the help of her mom and friends from LexEatTogether, B.T will share not only the flavors of their creations but also a profound sense of compassion and community spirit. LexKooks is more than just a collection of recipes; it’s a vibrant celebration of flavors, cultures, and the joy that comes from sharing homemade meals.
Now on to our first recipe!
Rainbow Spring Rolls
This dish is a delightful twist on the classic Vietnamese spring roll that holds a special place in my heart. It all began with my mom, who taught me the art of crafting these rolls, making them not just a recipe but a cherished memory. In this rendition, I’ve added a playful touch, using locally sourced, seasonal vegetables easily found at our nearby market. The rolls burst with colors reminiscent of a rainbow, featuring plump shrimps, crisp peppers, and fresh lettuce enveloped in soft rice paper. Tangy pickled onions perfectly balance the succulent shrimp and wholesome rice, creating a harmony of flavors. These rolls are served alongside a rich and creamy peanut sauce, adding an authentic touch to the experience. Packed with essential nutrients, proteins, fibers, these rolls are not just a culinary delight but also a symbol of my passion for cooking and my dedication to promoting healthy eating in our community.
- Rice Paper (4 pieces)
- Brown/Whole Grain Rice (1/4 cup)
- Shrimp (6 pieces)
- Onions (1/2)
- Peppers (1/2 bell pepper or few small sweet peppers)
- Lettuce (2 cups worth)
- Garlic (2 cloves)
- Peanut Butter (1 tablespoon)
- Hoisin Sauce or Dark Soy Sauce (1 tablespoon)
- Lime (2 teaspoons)
- Begin by preparing your rice; use a 1:2 ratio of rice to water. If you’re using a stovetop, bring it to a boil and then simmer on low for approximately 20 minutes until cooked through and fluffy.
- Slice a fresh onion into thin slices, using a mandoline for that perfect thinness if you have one. These will be pickled for a delightful tang.
- In a bowl, combine the sliced onions with vinegar and a teaspoon each of salt and sugar. Let it pickle; don’t worry, the vinegar, salt, and sugar will mellow the onions, giving them a neutral taste.
- Slice your colorful peppers into strips, creating a vibrant contrast for our rolls.
- Boil your shrimps in 1 cup of water until they turn pink, approximately 2-2½ minutes. Save the water; it’ll be the base for our flavorful shrimp stock. If you have the time, add any vegetable scraps into your water and bring it to medium-low for extra depth.
- Take a sheet of rice paper and either dip it in water or spread a teaspoon of water on each side to soften it.
- Place a layer of crisp lettuce about an inch and a half away from the bottom of the rice paper.
- Now, assemble your rainbow: put a meatball-sized portion of rice on the lettuce. Arrange your peppers, pickled onions, and shrimps in neat rows above the lettuce, showcasing the vibrant colors of the rainbow.
- Fold the one-and-a-half-inch flap of rice paper over the ingredients, fold in both opposite side flaps, and roll up the spring roll until the end.
- Now, we can make our peanut sauce. In a pan, sauté minced garlic in a bit of oil over medium-low heat. Once fragrant, add peanut butter and hoisin sauce. Stir until it thickens and slightly sticks to the pan.
- Pour in the saved shrimp stock until you achieve your desired sauce consistency. Add your lime juice and season with salt and sugar to your desired taste. Your peanut sauce is ready to go!
- Serve everything up and enjoy!
There you have it – our colorful, flavorful Rainbow Spring Rolls, a true testament to our community’s creativity and love for good food! Enjoy this delightful recipe, made with love from our kitchen to yours.