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Fresh & Fast: These Summer Roll Bowls Are Your Busy Weeknight Fix!

Hot town, summer in the city…time to eat something healthy and pretty! These kid-friendly summer roll bowls (a.k.a. Asian-inspired noodle salads) are just the ticket. A stove-optional quick fix for busy weekday nights, they’re also infinitely versatile: Simply pile on any veggies you have on hand and mix up your herbs (you can add protein too).

Meal bonus: Any leftovers from this meal can make an amazing lunch for work the following day. Simply toss the noodles with a little extra sesame oil before storing in the fridge so that they keep their tooth. Hungry? Get chopping and you’ll have dinner on the table in 20 minutes. Here’s how (full recipe below):

summer roll bowl ingredients

These are a few of the key ingredients we used. Love roughage? Feel free to add steamed broccoli, zucchini, matchstick carrots, bean sprouts, or whatever you’d like.

mom and daughter with noodles

While the noodles cook, prepare your toppings. This is a room-temp salad, so it’s fine for your noodles to sit out for a while if you need extra time to cook something with protein, like tofu or shrimp. Again, this is a very flexible dish—you can even top it with garbanzo beans or edamame.

3 steps

1: Prepare the noodles and separate into individual bowls.

2: Make the sauce.

3: Pour sauce over the noodles and stir.

overhead summer roll bowl

Garnish your bowl with your preferred toppings and voilà! Feel free to switch out cilantro for mint or basil—or even use all three.

let's eat summer roll bowl

In our centers, we embrace family-style eating: Encouraging children to serve themselves teaches them important social skills (passing items, sharing, being patient, saying “please” and “thank you”) and how to listen to their own hunger cues. Allowing them to get in on the serving action can also inspire them to try new foods. There will likely be some spills, but also a lot of smiles.

For this meal, place all the toppings on the table in small serving bowls and then give each diner an individual bowl of noodles and sauce. Invite your child to gussy up her noodles with whatever she likes—but maybe keep the jalapeños out of her reach…

QUICK & EASY SUMMER ROLL BOWLS

Serves: Approximately 6

Total time: 10 minutes prep/10 minutes cooking

INGREDIENTS

  • 12-ounce package of rice noodles
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced or chopped into small pieces
  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced or chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup red cabbage, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Optional garnishes: chopped peanuts, diced jalapeños, lime wedges
  • Optional hearty add-ons: chicken, shrimp, lean beef, tofu, etc. (Note: Cooking these items will require using the stove and increase cooking time.)

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce (can substitute low-sodium soy sauce or gluten-free Bragg Liquid Aminos, or whip up The Kitchn’s vegan version)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (substitute agave syrup or maple syrup if your child is under a year old)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cook the noodles according to package directions—typically they are just submerged in a bowl of hot water (even hot tap water is fine) and left to stand until ready. It can take 2 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the noodles.
  2. Chop, slice, and shred your veggies while you wait for the noodles to cook.
  3. Once the noodles are tender, first drain them and then run them under cool water to stop the cooking process (overcooked noodles get mushy and break apart).
  4. Toss the drained noodles with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil to prevent them from sticking together, and set aside.
  5. Put all the sauce ingredients (sesame oil, rice vinegar, fish sauce, honey, garlic, and ginger) in a small bowl or jar and mix them together.
  6. To serve, place portions of noodles into individual bowls, top with sauce, and stir.
  7. Put the scallions, avocado, bell peppers, cucumber, red cabbage, sesame seeds, cilantro, and any other garnishes or hearty add-ons in small serving bowls and set everything on the table for a family-style feast.
  8. Encourage your child to add her own favorite toppings, helping her as needed. Enjoy!

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