These uniquely flavored spring rolls (anise and sage--who knew?) are like little specially wrapped gifts! And they derive their unique texture from being neither steamed nor fried, but baked! I wanted to avoid the hassle and extra calories of frying, yet I wanted something a bit more toothsome than the typical steamed spring rolls. So, I tried baking them and, after some experimentation, hit on just the right about of time in the oven to yield a finished product that struck the perfect balance.

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Sweet Potato Spring Rolls With Anise-Scented Sage-Butter Sauce [Vegan]

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • Sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped Swiss chard or kale
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seed, divided
  • 4 8-inch spring roll wrappers
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 6 to 8 medium-large sage leaves, stacked, tightly rolled, and thinly sliced to make "chiffonade" or ribbons
  • Garnish: fresh sage leaves
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Preparation

  1. Place potato cubes in a medium bowl, cover with water just to the top of the potatoes, add 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 10 minutes.  (You may instead simmer stove top until tender, about 10-15 minutes).  Heat olive oil in large cast iron skillet over medium-high.  Add greens, another 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, garlic powder, and 1/4 teaspoon anise seed, and saute for about 3 minutes or until slightly wilted and tender.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper.  With a potato masher or fork, coarsely mash sweet potatoes, and lightly fold in sauteed greens.  Check for seasoning and adjust as desired.  Fill an 8- or9-inch round cake pan with very warm water placed next to a kitchen towel.  Soak spring roll wrappers, one at at time, for just a few seconds or until very pliable, but not falling apart.  Drain on kitchen towel.  Place one-forth of filling in center of wrapper in a thick log shape.  Fold like a burrito: fold one side of wrapper snugly across long side of filling, fold in ends, overlapping, and finish by folding the remaining long side of the wrapper up and over.  Place seam side down on prepared baking sheet, and brush lightly with olive oil or spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Bake for 4 minutes (no longer!).  They should be hot and slightly firmer than a steamed spring roll with just a bare hint of ever-so-subtle chewiness.
  3. While spring rolls bake, make sauce:  melt butter in the same cast iron skillet over medium high.  Add fresh sage ribbons and remaining 1/4 teaspoon anise seeds.  Saute, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes or until sage leaves barely begin to shrivel and become slightly crispy.  Serve spring rolls immediately with sauce spooned over the top and garnished with fresh sage leaves.  They are most easily eaten with a sharp knife and fork.

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