Burrito-style Fresh Rolls

I’ve wanted to do this for a long time. Any gluten-intolerant Mexican food fanatic like myself would understand why. You see, back in my college days, there were two kinds of people. There were Pancheros people, and there were Big Ten Burrito people. Where you fell in the divide could very well dictate who you went home with at night, who you hung out with, who you walked to tailgates with, etc.

Ok, so I’m exagerrating a little. There were some people who liked both places equally. But the take-away from all this is that there was no one who didn’t like a good burrito — no matter which burrito they felt fell under that definition. But the moment anyone gives up gluten, the burrito experience will never be the same. First, the corn tortilla, while (in my opinion) superior in flavor, is not of optimum burrito-making texture. And a brown rice tortilla, if you’re tried them, is not worth the effort taste-wise. Hence, many people seeking good, cheap take-out-style Mexican are relegated to the burrito bowl.

In addition to enjoying cheap Mexican food, I’m also a fan of the ubiquitous Asian fresh roll. I tend to order it whenever it’s on a menu, even though they all seem to taste relatively the same. There’s something refreshing, yet satisfying, about the fresh roll’s bright flavors, crunchy interior and chewy outer texture.

So tonight I finally did what I’ve long been wanting to do: I combined two of my favorite “wraps” into one dish — the Fresh Roll Burrito. It’s got the light, chewy, fresh feel of the fresh summer roll, with the flavors and spirit of a burrito. Below is the method (not quite a recipe) for preparing them. You can find rice wrappers in most Asian stores, or the Asian section of your grocery store (if you’re lucky). I saw them recently at Whole Foods as well. You’ll want the bigger size — one that resembles the size of a large flour tortilla.

Fresh Roll Burritos:

4 spring rolls wrappers made from rice paper

~ 1 cup fat-free refried beans (for less moisture)

shredded vegan cheese

grape tomatoes, quartered

sliced avocado

chopped green onion

cilantro leaves

Other possible additions (not pictured):

shredded romaine lettuce

corn kernels

red pepper

cooked brown rice


Soak 1 sheet of rice paper in a shallow dish of cold to room temperature water until soft, about 1 – 1 1/2 minutes. Remove carefully and lay flat on cutting board, pulling out any wrinkles or folded edges. On the side nearest you, spread a thin layer of refried beans at the end of the rice paper, leaving about 3/4 inch open on the left, right and side nearest you. Sprinkle beans with cheese, veggies and cilantro leaves. Fold the end of the rice paper just over the filling, tucking in filling tighly with fingers. Fold over the ends of both the left and right side. Roll the wrapper up the rest of the way tightly. Let sit for a few minutes until rice paper dries before cutting. Serve with salsa or guacamole for dipping.


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