Rice paper, filo and bread rolls are excellent vehicles for transporting tasty things straight into your mouth without the need for a knife and fork. Here, a little filling goes a long way, but the aim is to cram as much into them to create bold, loaded parcels that smack with flavour. Their success depends on balance, textural contrast, lots of herbs and the freshest ingredients. They are ideal for feeding a hungry crowd and are especially good for picnics and summer entertaining. Salty, sharp, tangy, juicy – these rolls are wholly satisfying.
Marinated watermelon, ginger and avocado summer rolls
These are best eaten within a couple of hours. Dip into your favourite chilli sauce and cue the flavour explosion.
Prep 15 min
Marinate 20 min
Cook 20 min
1 fat garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small red bird’s eye chilli, roughly chopped (if you prefer less heat, discard the pith and seeds)
1 tbsp palm sugar, or light soft brown sugar
50ml fish sauce
50ml lime juice
30g tamarind paste
300g watermelon, peeled and cut into batons
150g ready-to-eat rice vermicelli noodles
2 spring onions, trimmed and sliced lengthways
1 small cucumber, deseeded, flesh cut into ribbons with a julienne peeler
1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into very thin matchsticks
8 rice paper rolls
16 Thai basil leaves
16 picked mint leaves
1 handful coriander leaves
75g roasted salted peanuts, roughly crushed
1 large ripe avocado, peeled, stoned and sliced lengthways
In a mortar, pound the garlic and chilli to a paste, then stir in the sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and tamarind until the sugar dissolves. Put the watermelon in a bowl, pour over the dressing and leave to marinate for 20 minutes. Lift the watermelon out of the bowl with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate; reserve the marinade.
In a bowl, mix the rice noodles with the spring onions, cucumber and ginger, then pour over the reserved marinade and toss to coat.
Fill a medium bowl with warm water. Dip one rice paper wrapper into the water until it softens, then carefully lay out on a chopping board. Top with two basil leaves, two mint leaves and a few coriander leaves, then fill with an eighth of the dressed noodles, sprinkle on some peanuts and top with the watermelon and avocado.
To wrap, first fold the right and left sides of the rice paper over the filling, then, starting with the end closest to you, lift the edge and fold over to enclose the ingredients, and roll up tightly all the way to the top. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling, then serve.
Halloumi, feta and herb cigars
These are very moreish thanks to the irresistible combination of crisp pastry and salty, cheesy filling.
Prep 15 min
Cook 1 hr
Makes 32 cigars
250g anari or ricotta
100g feta, crumbled
150g halloumi, coarsely grated
1 heaped tbsp dried mint
3 tbsp finely chopped dill, plus half a bunch fresh dill, picked
3 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 eggs, beaten
Zest of 1 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 filo sheets
75g melted ghee
½ bunch mint, small leaves picked
Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4, and line two large baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
In a bowl, beat the anari or ricotta and feta until well combined, then add the halloumi, dried mint, chopped herbs, eggs and lemon zest, season and mix well.
On a clean surface, lay out one filo sheet and brush it with ghee (keep the filo you aren’t using covered with a damp cloth, because it dries out very quickly). Top with a few sprigs of fresh dill and mint leaves, then lay a second sheet of filo on top and, using a sharp knife, cut into four equal rectangles.
Spread a log of the filling along the short end of one rectangle, leaving a 1½cm gap on each side, then roll up the pastry, tucking in the ends to secure the filling. Put the roll seam side down on the lined baking sheet, brush with more melted ghee, then repeat with the remaining filo and filling.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and crisp, and serve hot or at room temperature.
Bloody mary prawn brioche rolls
Prawns have a natural affinity with mayonnaise, and this cocktail-inspired one that’s peppy with Tabasco could improve the taste of just about anything.
Prep 10 min
Marinate 2 hr+
Cook 15 min
For the prawns
25ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 red chilli, finely sliced (if you prefer less heat, discard the pith and seeds)
1 garlic clove, peeled and very finely sliced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
350g cooked jumbo prawns
Foe the dressing
3 tbsp tomato ketchup
6 tbsp good-quality mayonnaise
Zest of 1 lemon and the juice of ½ lemon
1 heaped tbsp very finely chopped chives
½ tsp celery salt
1-2 tsp Tabasco (I like the smoky chipotle one)
A few drops of Worcestershire sauce
4 round brioche rolls
Salted butter, for spreading
A few cos lettuce leaves
2 good tomatoes, cut into thick slices
Sea salt and pepper
Begin by marinating the prawns. In a shallow dish, mix the vodka and olive oil, then stir in the chilli, garlic, lemon zest and juice. Add the prawns, toss to coat, then chill in the fridge for two hours or overnight.
In a bowl, mix the ketchup, mayo, lemon zest and juice, chives, celery salt, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. Lift the prawns from their marinade and combine with the mayo mix.
Split open the buns and butter them. Lay some lettuce on the base of the bun, then divide the prawn mix between the buns. Top with sliced tomatoes, season, top with the bun lid and serve immediately.