Enjoy Sendik's All Week: Lettuce Wraps Two Ways

Lettuce wraps are one of those rare dinners that actually pleases whole DamFam.  They’re fun to eat, a little messy, and healthy all at the same time.  I have two different kid-tested, mother-approved versions for you today; one has been buried in the blog archive for quite a while, and the other is a recipe I simply cannot even believe I’ve never shared here before, especially since it’s high on the list of The DamFam Top Ten.  Either one you choose to make would be perfect for a busy weeknight.

Chinese Lettuce Wraps are a simple, mildly seasoned way to start your kids on lettuce wraps if they’ve never tried them before.  You don’t even have to bother disclosing to your children that there are fresh mushrooms in the mix; they’re so finely chopped that my punks have never even noticed they’re there (I love when that happens … I feel so devious!).  Look for sale Smart Chicken Organic Ground Chicken, fresh whole white mushrooms, and San-J Gluten Free Cooking Sauces.  Iceberg lettuce is called for, but you could easily swap in sale green or red leaf.

If your family is more adventuresome when it comes to dining, and if peanut allergies aren’t an issue at your house, then give the following recipe a try.  This is the one I make most often; the one I can pull off in about 30 minutes with my eyes closed on a busy weeknight, and one of those meals I’ve made so many times I don’t even pull out a recipe anymore.  : )

As far as side dishes are concerned:  steam up a bag of frozen edamame and put on a pot of sticky rice.  Don’t forget to grab a box or two of spring rolls from the sushi counter.  Dinner is served!  : )

ASIAN CHICKEN (OR TURKEY) LETTUCE WRAPS
Serves:  4
Source:  epicurious.com

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/4 pounds lean ground turkey or ground chicken (Smart Chicken Organic Ground Chicken is on sale)
1/2 cup Asian peanut sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus additional soy sauce for dipping (San-J Gluten Free Cooking Sauces are on sale)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint plus 1/3 cup small mint sprigs (I like to use cilantro)

12 large butter lettuce leaves (you could swap in the sale green or red leaf if you like)
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups) (English cucumbers are on sale; I prefer these to domestic cucumbers.  Leave the skin on.)

Heat peanut oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add ground chicken or turkey and sauté until brown and cooked through, breaking up with back of spoon, about 7 minutes. Add peanut sauce, hoisin sauce and 1 tablespoon soy sauce; heat through. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Reheat in microwave or skillet, adding water by tablespoonfuls to moisten if necessary, before continuing.)

Stir in chopped mint or cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer chicken / turkey mixture to the center of a serving platter.  Arrange mint or cilantro sprigs and lettuce leaves around chicken / turkey.  To make wraps, spoon turkey mixture onto lettuce leaf, add a few mint sprigs and some chopped cucumber, fold in sides over filling, and roll up. Pass additional soy sauce alongside wraps for dipping.

NOTES: 
The recipe above is the recipe as originally written.  Over the years I’ve altered it quite a bit; here are the changes I’ve made:  first of all, I always add about a cup or so of shredded carrot and a can of drained, diced water chestnuts to the onion step.  Sometimes I add a handful of bean sprouts, although the punks don’t really care for them.  Also, I never measure the sauces anymore – start with the recommended measurements and tweak them according to your taste.  If you’re in to spicy, have a bottle of sriracha at the ready (I love this stuff; look for it near the top shelf with all the Asian ingredients.  It’s a bright red sauce with a green top and a rooster on the lable.  Delicious!).  I also put out a bowl of crunchy rice noodles for topping the wraps.  Aim for leftovers; these make a great lunch the next day.

Have a great week!

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous | April 19th, 2012