Trends come and go, but unicorn food is forever. Writer and cookbook author, Kat Odell, has a soft spot for rainbow eats — and we can relate. The concept of eating colorfully is one of the easiest ways to get a variety of whole food ingredients into your diet, and it can make healthy eating a fun, beautiful habit to sustain.
Kat’s upcoming cookbook is aptly titled Unicorn Food: Beautiful, Plant-Based Recipes to Nurture Your Inner Magical Beast. If the name alone isn’t enough to lure you, this super summery recipe from its pages should do the trick. While we wait patiently for September to get a copy of the cookbook, we’re indulging in these crunchy, colorful (and gut-friendly) kimchi summer rolls…
With their ombre pink hue, these beet-stained rolls remind me of a summer sunset. Of course if you don’t want to take the extra step and tint the roll wrappers, that’s entirely fine, but the tie-dye effect adds a fun, playful twist. Beyond their eye-catching presentation, these refreshing rolls pack punchy flavor thanks to the pineapple kimchi within. It’s sweet, spicy and sour all at the same time, with tons of taste from the gochugaru — a bright red powder made from Korean chile flakes. This recipe will make more pineapple kimchi than you need for the rolls; I like to add the leftovers to pretty much anything: atop veggie tacos, in a breakfast bowl, in place of salad dressing.
pineapple kimchi summer sunset rolls
For the wrappers:
1 medium raw red beet, unpeeled, scrubbed and cut into 6 pieces
18 spring roll rice wrappers (6 inches each; see notes)
black sesame seeds, for garnish
For the pineapple kimchi:
1 medium pineapple
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 small shallot, peeled
2″ piece (about 1 oz) fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp gochugaru (see notes)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
For the filling:
2 cups mushrooms, such as shimeji, enoki, or shiitake, cleaned, bottoms trimmed
4 1/2 tsp olive oil
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
2 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut into matchstick-size pieces
2 cups pea shoots
2 cups daikon, peeled and cut into matchstick-size pieces
1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed, 2″ removed from stalks
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
For dye for the wrappers:
Place the beet in a medium bowl and add 1 1/3 cups hot tap water to cover. Set aside to steep while you assemble the remaining ingredients.
For the pineapple kimchi:
Cut off the crown and stem of the pineapple and discard.
Positioning one cut side of the pineapple on a cutting board, and using a chef’s knife, slice off the skin from top to bottom, cutting deeply enough to remove any eyes. Cut the pineapple vertically in half lengthwise and set aside one half. Cut one pineapple half into rough 1-inch cubes, making sure to cut around the tougher core.
Transfer about 2 1/2 cups of the pineapple cubes to a blender (if you have extra cubes, reserve them for another use).
Quarter the remaining pineapple half lengthwise, slicing off and discarding the tough central core of each quarter. Slice each quarter into long strips about 1/8-inch thick and 4-inches long. Transfer these pieces to a large bowl and set aside.
Add the garlic, shallot, ginger, rice wine vinegar, gochugaru, and salt to the blender and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour the pineapple kimchi over the pineapple strips and toss to coat. Set aside.
For the filling:
Toss the mushrooms with the olive oil in a medium bowl (if using shiitakes, slice them into quarters first). Spread the mushrooms in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast the mushrooms until soft, about 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and transfer them to a small bowl. Add the soy sauce and toss to coat. Set aside.
To dye the wrappers:
Lay a clean, damp kitchen towel on a work surface. Place a medium, shallow bowl of warm water next to the work surface and the reserved beet water beside that (the beet water should still be warm; if it is not, reheat it gently in a small pot or the microwave). Dip the right side of a wrapper in the warm water to cover it, then quickly dip the left side in the beet water; transfer the dipped wrapper to the damp towel. The wrapper should be just slightly pliable and tinted soft magenta on one side (it will be white on the other and will shade from white to pink as the wrapper continues to hydrate and the dye bleeds).
For the summer rolls:
Arrange a generous pinch each of the carrot, pea shoots, daikon and cilantro about 1 inch from the bottom of the wrapper and across both the pink and white sides, leaving a border of about 1 1/2 inches on the pink side (this side will be wrapped up to form the base of the roll; the white side will be left open, allowing the veg to peek out). Top each mound of vegetables with about 1 tablespoon of mushrooms and 2 teaspoons of pineapple kimchi — be careful not to overfill it!
Fold the bottom of the wrapper up and over the filling to cover about 1/2 inch, then tuck the pink side of the wrapper over to close that end. Continue to roll tightly from the bottom up until the summer roll is wrapped and the vegetables peek out of the white side. Set the summer roll, seam side down, on a plate. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
Sprinkle the summer rolls with sesame seeds and serve immediately.
Rolls will keep, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 2 days. The kimchi will keep, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 5 days.
Notes: Spring roll rice wrappers, which are sometimes labeled as “spring roll skin,” can be purchased from Asian markets, many supermarkets, and online at Amazon.com, as can gochugaru. Some wrappers are made from rice while others are made from wheat. Make sure to read the product’s ingredients to ensure you have the correct rice wrappers.
Excerpted from Unicorn Food: Beautiful Plant-Based Recipes to Nurture Your Inner Magical Beast by Kat Odell (Workman Publishing). Copyright © 2018. Photographs by AJ Meeker.
Can’t quit unicorn food? Make these pretty little rainbow smoothies next.