Lumpia is Filipino spring rolls, typically filled with pork and vegetables, then deep fried. But not this one! I made Lumpiang Gulay (Vegetarian Lumpia), filled with goodies like sweet potato, tofu, green beans, carrots, cabbage, and bean sprouts, then baked them for an even healthier take on this classic Filipino recipe.
I really love vegetarian lumpia – when I was home in Manila for my two-month vacation (I know, I’m very lucky), I think I ate this at least once a week. Tita Ine, my nanny/aunt/best cook ever, would make a big batch to keep in the fridge, and just fry a few for lunch. Sometimes she would add in some chopped shrimp, but I prefer the plain vegetable version. I love the crispy wrapper and the mix of veggies inside, dipped in a sauce made with vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic.
When Dan and I cooked Filipino food a couple of weeks ago, we made super indulgent pork belly adobo, turon (essentially plaintains and brown sugar in spring roll wrappers, which sounds delicious in theory, but unfortunately our attempt is going into the archives of kitchen fails…) and this Vegetarian Lumpia. Admittedly, Dan pretty much did everything for the lumpia, while I sat around and ate the filling:
I know it’s not very pretty, but the veggies are already cooked and seasoned, and it is very good. In fact, last week I made this exact lumpia recipe again, but didn’t have any spring roll wrappers, so I just ate the filling. This vegetarian lumpia filling served on its own is also a common Filipino dish called lumpiang hubad, which literally translates as naked lumpia.
I got a few rolling tips from Dan, too, who said it’s just like rolling a burrito:
You start by placing the filling near the center of the wrapper, leaving enough space on the sides. Take a corner (or the edge of the wrapper nearest you), fold over the filling and start rolling, stopping about halfway. Take the corners on the sides and fold inward, and continue rolling until you reach the end. You can seal the spring rolls with an egg wash or just water.
Spring roll wrappers are available in most grocery stores, but we found that the ones from Asian grocery stores are thinner, and that’s what we used. Make sure you get spring roll wrappers and not wonton wrappers. Brushing a little oil or even butter on the lumpia before baking ensures that the wrapper crisps up nicely.
Another good thing about this recipe is that you only use one pan to cook everything (plus the baking sheet). You can also customize the filling with your favorite vegetables, but this is the traditional mixture.
Vegetarian Lumpia (Filipino Spring Rolls)
1 medium sweet potato
14 oz firm tofu
1/2 cup green beans, cut in small dice
1/2 cup carrots, cut in small dice, or julienned
1 cup cabbage, shredded
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
salt and pepper, to taste
spring roll wrappers
- Soften and partially cook the sweet potato first. I like just placing it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, but you can also bake at 400 F for about 30 minutes. Remove skin and chop into cubes.
- Drain tofu and slice into 8 rectangles or smaller cubes (whichever you prefer).
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large sautee pan over medium-high heat. Add tofu and cook until edges start to turn light brown. Remove tofu from pan and place in a big mixing bowl.
- Add remaining olive oil to sautee pan. Stir in garlic and cook until softened and fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add bean sprouts, carrots, green beans, and cabbage, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.
- Add green onions and sweet potato cubes. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 8 minutes.
- Remove vegetables from pan and add to mixing bowl with tofu. Toss everything together. You may have to mash the tofu if you cooked it in bigger rectangles to combine it with the rest of the vegetables. Season filling with salt, pepper, and sesame oil.
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Peel spring roll wrappers apart and roll lumpia with about a quarter cup filling in each.
- Brush or spray lumpia with olive oil or melted butter, and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the rolls over and bake for another 10 minutes. Serve warm.
For the dipping sauce, combine 1/4 cup white or cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1 finely chopped or grated garlic clove. You can also add a little grated ginger or a little bit of brown sugar.
I hope you guys like the recipes from the Philippines! If you’re interested in any specific dish, please let me know. You can also check out my other Filipino recipes. I’d love to hear from you if you end up making any.