While Vietnamese food may you may think of heaping bowls of beef bone soup, grilled meats and plenty of fish, the vegetarian options in this culinary-obsessed nation are some of the best you’ll find in the world. Explore the plant-based side of this beloved cuisine, like these fresh, healthy Swiss chard rolls. 

I consistently order this exceptionally beautiful fresh roll at vegetarian restaurants in Sài Gòn. I adore how a bit of the filling, vermicelli noodles with sautéed cabbage, carrots, and fresh herbs, peeks out the sides, begging for a dip in a creamy peanut sauce. They’re easy to assemble and fabulous to serve as part of a light summer meal or as an hors d’oeuvres.

I’ve substituted Swiss chard, which serves as the wrapper, for the traditional mustard leaves, as they’re available year round in grocery stores. Try to select bunches with young tender leaves, 4 to 5 inches wide, that lie flat. In the summer months it’s worth looking for peppery Asian mustard leaves at Asian grocers, as ruffled, large-leaved American mustard leaves are too sharp for this recipe. Other leafy greens (lacinato kale, collard greens, or even kohlrabi leaves) make fine substitutes. When using larger leaves or other greens (unless they’re tender and lie flat), blanch them first in boiling water, refresh them in cold water, pat them dry, and trim away the thick central ribs before using.

Reprinted with permission from Vegetarian Vietnam