Asparagus, Chard & Soba Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce


Gah, I always get stressed when more than a few days go by without posting – I don’t like to lose momentum. Not only is blogging a good exercise in self-discipline and all that, it’s my only real creative outlet right now, and I like to make it a priority.

I wish I had exciting stories about what I’ve been up to in the last ten days, but if I may be honest… I’ve just been so tired.

We recently got notice that we needed to leave our apartment because the owner wants to move in. It’s never fun to be uprooted, but we had an exceptionally hard time finding a new place to live. We looked at dozens of places, and nothing felt right – any unit that allowed dogs was either insanely expensive (even by Vancouver standards) or dark, small and in the middle of nowhere, usually with an abundance of stairs (strollers with babies in them are not stair-friendly).

It got to the point that we were packing to leave, and had nowhere to go…

Thankfully we found something last week, and I’m actually excited about our next chapter. But I’m tired. Mentally, from being unsettled over the housing situation, and physically, because my 11-month-old has been in a cold –> teething –> cold cycle for the past 6 weeks which means he thinks 1 a.m., 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. are all excellent times for snuggles.


I just was about to apologize for complaining and make a joke about my first world problems… but truth is, things aren’t always easy, especially as a new mom, and yes, I’m abundantly grateful that my “problems” are minuscule by the world’s standards, but they’re still challenges and I don’t think we should always put on our “Facebook facade” of everything-is-easy-and-perfect-in-my-life because then, how can we possibly relate to and support one another? Amiright?

Well, that got heavier than I intended for a Summer Rolls post. Whoops.

Ok, SUMMER ROLLS. They’re one of my favourite foods. All the textures, all the flavours. The peanut sauce, oh lordy, the peanut sauce. If there were a food I could swim in, this would be it.

I did a healthy, springtime spin on the typical vietnamese summer roll with the addition of asparagus, swiss chard and soba noodles. So yummy!


It takes a fair bit of time to wrap up all the rolls, so my advice is to throw a little dinner party and put all the ingredients on the table, asking guests to roll their own. Or even just with your own family – like taco night! It’s more fun, and you get to linger longer over the meal.


Rice paper wrappers might seem finicky at first, but you’ll get the hang of it after a couple. If you’re struggling with stickiness or tearing, just wet your fingers to keep the wrappers pliable and fight the urge to overstuff them.

You will likely have leftover peanut sauce – it is DELICIOUS on grilled lime-marinated chicken skewers, in a pita with shredded carrots, cucumber, sprouts, etc., tossed with cold noodles for a salad… possibilities are endless.

Asparagus, Chard & Soba Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
This makes 12 small rolls - serves 6 as an appetizer, or 4 as a meal. Double or triple the recipe as desired for a larger crowd!
For Summer Rolls:
  • 12 asparagus stalks, tough ends trimmed
  • 6 large chard leaves, stems removed and roughly torn
  • 36 medium peeled, deveined shrimp, tails removed
  • 6 oz soba noodles
  • 12 small rice paper wrappers
  • ¼ cup packed mint leaves
For Peanut Sauce:
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 ½ tbsp sambal olek (asian chili paste) or red chili flakes
  • Hot water as needed to thin
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and cold water.
  2. Drop asparagus into the boiling water and cook 3 minutes, or until bright green and crisp-tender; using tongs, transfer to ice bath. Add chard to pot and cook 1 minute, transfer to ice bath with asparagus. Add shrimp to pot and cook until pink, about 2 minutes; using a slotted spoon, transfer to ice bath. Finally, add soba noodles to boiling water and cook 6 minutes, or until tender; transfer to a colander and run cold water over until clear. Allow to drain fully.
  3. Remove all ingredients from the ice bath and set up a rolling station on your counter by spreading out a clean, dampened tea towel. Fill a baking dish 2" deep with hot tap water.
  4. Working with one at a time, place a rice paper in the hot water until soft, about 1 minute. Transfer to your damp towel and arrange one stalk of asparagus, some chard, 3 shrimp, a small handful of noodles (about 2 tbsp) and a couple of mint leaves inside. Roll it up, tucking in the sides as best you can. Proceed the same way with remaining wrappers.
For Peanut Sauce:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large glass measuring cup and microwave for 1-2 minutes until you are able to whisk it. Add hot water a tablespoon at a time to thin to desired consistency. Serve warm or room temperature. Keeps 1 week in the fridge; rewarm and thin with more hot water as needed.
  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    I love spring rolls like this so much. The soba noodles are such a great idea!

  • Helen Shideler

    Omigoogness! If theses are half as good as they are pretty, they will fast become a regular in this house!

  • Emily

    I absolutely love your blog! I’m also a first-time-mom who had a baby boy in May 2013. Whenever you mention what your little guy is going trough (like cold/teething/cold) my little man is going through it, too. Your blog has been an amazing inspiration not only for meals when cooking suddenly seems like an impossible challenge, but also for new moms adapting to their growing babies.
    Thank you for all your hard work and creativity on this site! Can’t wait to try this recipe!

    • Jennifer Pallian

      Hi Emily, so nice to meet you! I love when people come out of the woodwork and we have so much in common. Thank you so much for your kind words! You literally made my week. BIG hugs!

  • Sonal @ Singhfully Sweet

    I completely understand! Problems are problems no matter how fortunate or unfortunate of a life we may have. I always tell myself I am very lucky to have a family that loves me and a roof over my head no matter what happens, but sometimes the slightest change in routine can make things hectic! I’m glad you and your family found something! Good luck on your move!

    By the way, the recipe looks great! Love anything that has peanut sauce in it, on it, around it, and all over it!

    • Jennifer Pallian

      Thank you for your support, Sonal :) xoxox

  • Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health

    aww man i hope things get better for you. yay for finding the place though. i love making summer rolls esp with a spring inspired veggies.

    • Jennifer Pallian

      Thanks, Dixya! Things are already better :)

  • Melanie

    These look fantastic! Love the addition of asparagus and soba noodles.

    • Jennifer Pallian

      Thanks, Melanie!

  • Jill

    I made these tonight and they were super yummy, thank you!

    • Jennifer Pallian

      You’re most welcome!

  • Lynne

    I won’t rant at too much length about the horror that is renting in Vancouver, but please understand that I feel you! It’s hard enough to find a decent place in a reasonable neighbourhood that won’t run you $4000/month or 60% of your income–but as a dog owner it’s pretty much impossible. I really do not understand what landlords in this city have against pets, and dogs especially. If anything we are more conscientious and clean than your average tenant, and certainly responsible. It’s infuriating, and you’re well within your rights to moan. I get stressed enough just managing for myself, so I can’t imagine having to re-home an entire family!

    And given all that stress, that you were able to make something so yummy, write about and photograph it so beautifully is even more awe inspiring! I made a special trip to T&T for rice paper wrappers today so that I can try this out for dinner this evening. I always buy chard but I am SO over my weekly ‘chard + white bean soup’ after eating it all winter and have been trying to figure out what else I can do with it. Thanks again for the brilliant idea–and enjoy your new space!

    • Jennifer Pallian

      Haha I love your rant, Lynne! It’s good to have you in my corner on this :) And I hope you like the summer rolls!!!

  • Emilie

    This looks yummy. We often have “make-your-own-spring-roll” night at home, but this combo of ingredients looks awesome! Plus we’ve never had it with peanut sauce. By the way… what kind of peanut butter is implied, natural or the sweetened/salted stuff?

    • Jennifer Pallian

      Natural peanut butter is what I used… but you could get away with the other stuff if it’s all you have on hand!

  • Debbie

    Thanks for inspiring our dinner this week. They were so tasty. I ran out of peanut butter, but almond butter was just as delicious!

    • Jennifer Pallian

      So glad you liked them, Debbie! :D

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