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The Hand Off: Punta Mona Spring Rolls

2010 December 2

by Brianna Bain

It is pure chance that this week’s recipe has found a relay link to Sarah’s Roasted Cauliflower with Balsamic Glaze. As a special edition, this week’s recipe is not directly inspired by Sarah’s dish but still finds connection in our shared use of garlic, vinegar and a little something sweet ( honey/ raw sugar).   As mentioned in my Tuesday post I have just returned from an amazing two weeks in Costa Rica, earning a Permaculture Design Certificate from the Punta Mona Organic Farm and Sustainable Education Center. While there I had the chance to jump into their large open air kitchen, give a helping hand and capture a recipe created on the fly to share with all of you here at RecipeRelay.

Punta Mona’s head kitchen staffer Nelle (seen above holding bananas,  she is also a talented musician- check her music out here) steers the kitchen ship but meals are a cooperative affair; when there are 15-20 hungry mouths to feed  helping hands are always welcomed, no matter your culinary ability. I took full advantage of this style of kitchenry,  finding comfort  in the creative and  freestyle cooking that took place. Meals were planned to a certain extent;  feeding large groups on the farm demands some pre-purchasing of goods to supplement the food grown on site, resulting in an approximate 70:30 ratio of food from the farm and food purchased from the outside. This creates a very similar situation to mine at home -  CSA box + supplemental shopping. Certain staple items such as rice, beans, eggs,  and a few flavorful condiments are purchased and the rest is left to what can be harvested, which influences that creative edge we embrace here at RecipeRelay. Considering the farm’s location, climate and purpose as an educational organization some of the items used in this recipe may be unfamiliar or inaccessible, I will do my best to make adaptation recommendations so you can take this recipe and make it your own wherever you are.

In true permaculture form this meal is a personification of the approach;  serving more than just one purpose, it supports at least three functions:  nutritional sustenance, health (immune supporting herbs), and  strengthening  of social connections as this meal is best built with others in a sort of spring roll prep line.  The Punta Mona Kitchen is a breeding ground for inspired thoughts,  laughter, deep conversation and learning with a “hands on everything” approach. Punta Mona does not use any typical measurement devises, instead they eyeball, feel and taste along the way, asking for advice from whomever is around; co-creating some of the best food I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.  This is a fabulous way to get to know your food and your company very quickly.  I highly recommend it!

Punta Mona Spring Rolls

Prep time: approx. 2 hours

Yield: 10-15 spring rolls


(*adaptation suggestions)
Note: All measurements are a suggestion, please adapt as needed for desired flavor and amounts for filling the rolls.

Dipping Sauce:

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar, brown or Turbinado
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or Tamari
  • 1/2 cup Tahini- sesame seed paste
  • 1/4 cup banana vinegar (or, apple cider vinegar)


  • 1 package rice paper
  • 1 raw pumpkin, shredded
  • 5 limes, for fresh juice and zest
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3-4 beets, raw, peeled and speared or grated
  • 6-10 tumeric roots (depending on size), raw, sliced and speared ( * raw turmeric has a much more mild flavor than powdered – omit or use another fresh root ie:  carrot or even a little ginger, but use sparingly)
  • 1 1/2 cups herb melange, chopped – lemon balmgotu kolamexican mint tarragontilo and basil (*this herb mix is  extremely tasty! I recommend experimenting with what you can find at your farmers market. Try something new! Click on the herb to learn more about the flavors and medicinal properties)
  • 2 cups Katuk (green leaf) (* use any other desired green, mild in flavor – can also use crunchy sunflower sprouts or micro greens like pea shoots, Yum!)
  • 1 package soba (buckwheat) noodles
  • hemp and sesame seeds, for garnish

Cooking Directions

  1. Zest and juice limes, separate and set zest aside.
  2. Grate the raw pumpkin a“ceviche” (soak in lime juice) for 1 hour or more.
  3. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil, add soba noodles and cook until soft and tender. Strain and set aside to let them cool.
  4. In a large bowl mix soy sauce, tahini, vinegar, raw sugar and minced garlic. Mix by hand or in a food processor. Set aside.
  5. Peel the raw beets and turmeric, slice into small spears, set aside.
  6. Dice the red onion and set aside.
  7. Mince fresh herbs, set aside.
  8. Fill cookie sheet or level serving dish with a few inches of room temperature water. Place one rice paper sheet in water until soft but not beyond handling. Move to a moistened plate to avoid sticking.
  9. Building the spring roll-( in this order place ingredients on wet rice paper) soba noodle, squash, beets, carrots, turmeric, red onion, herb melange, katuk (green leaf), and lime zest. Amounts are up to individual preference, aim for 4- 6 Tbls of combined contents to avoid a over-stuffing and tearing of rice paper.
  10. Roll (rice paper rolling instructions click here), dress with sauce and sprinkle with sesame and or hemp seeds.
  11. Serve immediately.

    This recipe serves as the perfect outline for making a very unique  and highly adaptable dish. Much like the magic of corn tortillas,  rice paper  serves as a gluten free edible wrapper to carry whatever your little heart desires. Let this recipe be an inspirational guide to assist you in creating  these rolls based on what you get in your CSA box this week or what you see springing  into season at the farmers market. Also let your senses be your guide in developing a sauce that will sing in harmony with whatever you choose to wrap up. Tahini is a great starting place but so is peanut butter…!  Lastly don’t be afraid to try new herbs, if there is anything I learned about myself from this meal it was that I have been stuck in a rut with using the same herbs. There are so many delicious and beneficial herbs that can bring new and exciting dimension to you meals.  Explore and eat well!