FromDiane One of the very first home-cooked meals we shared was a picnic of fresh spring rolls. We didn’t have a dining table back then, so I assembled a big platter of cooked vegetables, herbs, lettuce, and rice paper wrappers on the living room floor. Todd learned to roll his first Vietnamese spring rolls, and he quickly learned to roll perfectly tight and plump rolls. It was a bonding moment between us. Fast forward seventeen years, and we still roll and eat spring rolls on a weekly basis, but now we have a table to feast on.
The fillings here are not traditionally Vietnamese, but they are examples of the endless possibilities for spring rolls. This recipe is not paired with a dip because the bacon is already quite salty. If you prefer to have a dip, try the recipes for Garlic Soy Dipping Sauce or Vietnamese Fish Sauce Dressing.
Trim any dry or tough ends from the asparagus spears. On a sheet pan, toss the asparagus with the oil. Add pepper to taste. (Do not salt the asparagus because the bacon will be salty.)
Roast until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (Cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of the asparagus.)
Gather the asparagus, bacon, cucumber, carrot (if using), lettuce leaves, herb leaves, and rice paper wrappers and prepare to roll.
Fill a large bowl with warm (bath-temperature) water. Gently dip each rice paper wrapper in the water for a few seconds, just until damp. (Don’t oversoak.) Place the wrapper on a plate or wooden board. As the wrapper begins to absorb the water and becomes softer and pliable (10 to 30 seconds, depending on the thickness of the wrappers and the water temperature), begin to add the fillings.
On the one-third of the wrapper closest to you, place a layer of each filling (asparagus, one slice of bacon, cucumber, carrot, lettuce, and herb leaves).
Start rolling the wrapper over the fillings, away from you, tucking and rolling the wrapper with your fingers, making sure all the fillings remain within the wrapper and tucking in the sides as you roll.
Serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap to eat a few hours later.