Perfect for hungry Superbowl guests or a busy weeknight dinner for family, Asian lettuce wraps or lettuce cups are a winner. Best part is you can make the filling a day or two ahead and warm it up to serve for less time in the kitchen.
Asian Lettuce Wraps
This is fun, healthy and satisfying food, all at the same time. Popularized by Asian restaurant chain, PF Changs, today there are many versions of these lettuce wraps or cups. Lettuce, in this case Romaine leaves, make a wrap or vessel to spoon savory filling into. Spoon on a little dipping sauce and chow down.
Ground Turkey and Vegetables
What makes this recipe a standout is using vegetables along with ground turkey for crunch, color, and more nutrition. Some recipes use water chestnuts, but the snow peas and carrots add more punch. While water chestnuts are more traditional for adding crunch, they are pretty tasteless and colorless. As the saying goes, we eat with our eyes first. Color is good.
Choose ground turkey that is between 10% and 15% fat for more flavor and less chance of ending up with a dry dish. Ginger and garlic add zing to the flavor.
Ginger – I keep a jar of organic, pureed ginger in the refrigerator at all times. Not only do I love the flavor of ginger and cook with it often, it is anti-inflammatory and great for digestion.
The brand I like best is made by The Ginger People. It is a fine puree (the jar says minced) and melts into a dish quickly. It’s available on Amazon and at many stores on the Asian products aisle. Try ginger mixed into simple brown rice for great flavor. It is a good side dish for these lettuce wraps if you want to add a whole grain.
You can also use fresh ginger root. Peel the brown papery exterior with a vegetable peeler, then use a microplane zester for fine ginger root.
Tamari – Also know as soy sauce, tamari is wheat-free, perfect if you follow a gluten-free diet. Be sure to buy low sodium organic.
One last note. I use unrefined, organic coconut oil for this recipe (and many others). My favorite brand is Dr. Bronners, white label, if you are not familiar with it. Very healthy and mild tasting oil.
Asian Lettuce Wraps
Serves: 4 as a main course
- 1/3 cup low-sodium tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
- 1-2 teaspoons ginger puree (from a jar, or fresh finely grated or chopped)
- 2 tablespoons Mirin
- 1 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 tablespoon mild honey
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 4 ounces snow peas (1 huge handful)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped or grated carrot
- 1 1/2 tablespoons organic ginger puree (from a jar, or fresh finely grated or chopped)
- 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 1/4 pounds lean ground turkey (10%-15% fat)
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
- 1/4 teaspoon found black pepper
- 1-2 pinches crushed red pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion
- 1 package Romaine hearts (usually 3 heads), trimmed to about 6″-7″
- Black and white sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
- Whisk together sauce ingredients and reserve for serving.
- Remove strings from snow peas by grasping the top and pulling string down the side. Leave snow peas whole. Thinly slice crosswise.
- Heat coconut oil in a large fry or sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, snow peas and carrots to the pan and cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft. Add the ginger and garlic and cook 1 minute.
- Add ground turkey to the pan and cook until no longer pink, breaking it up with a wooden spatula or spoon.
- Add tamari, black and red pepper, and green onion. Stir together and serve in trimmed Romaine leaves. Drizzle with a little of the sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional).
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