You have tried burritos and pita pockets – now try Lettuce Wraps, the latest trend at Asian restaurants.
Cool and crispy lettuce combined for delicious, hands on meals! In addition, they are healthy!
Lettuce wraps are turning up in restaurants across the country. First popular in Asian cuisines, lettuce wraps are now popping up on the menus of other styles of restaurants. In restaurants, they are most often offered as an appetizer, but I like them as my main course. Kids love them as they get to eat with their hands and it is OK. You do not have to visit a restaurant to enjoy lettuce wraps. They are quick and easy to prepare at home. This is also a great way to lower your consumption of carbohydrates by replacing the bread on a sandwich
Lettuce wraps are very easy to create with an almost endless array of ingredient variations. You can also use the same ingredients that you use in burritos, tortillas, pita bread, or spring rolls. Jut let your imagination and taste buds be your guide. They key to great wraps is the contrast of warm, flavorful fillings with the cool crunch of lettuce.
For a party, offer a variety of lettuces and a variety of fillings such as cold chicken salad, grilled beef teriyaki strips, Italian sausage, onions, shredded cheese, and water chestnuts.
Iceberg is the most common lettuce used, but the wide, strong leaves of romaine, red leaf, or slightly bitter escarole offer surprising changes of pace. For best results, pick the largest, most pliable lettuce leaves. Lettuce types to use are iceberg, red lettuce, radicchio and/or large spinach leaves. Dry lettuce well before using in the wraps. To keep iceberg lettuce crisp, cut the core out. Fill the core with cold tap water, then drain for 15 minutes. It will stay crisp for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Lettuce Wrap Recipes – Lettuce Tacos
Chicken Fajita Lettuce Wraps:
Recipe and photo from Kraft Foods.
6 tablespoons Italian Reduced Fat Dressing, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
2 cups sliced red or green peppers
1 cup sliced onions
1 cup reduced fat Cheddar cheese
8 large iceberg lettuce leaves
Mix 1/4 cup of the dressing and cumin in medium bowl. Add chicken; toss lightly. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes to marinate.
ADD remaining 2 tablespoons dressing to large nonstick skillet. Add peppers and onions; mix lightly. Cook on medium heat 6 to 8 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove vegetable mixture from skillet; place in separate bowl. Cover to keep warm.
ADD chicken with marinade to same skillet. Cook 8 to 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through, stirring frequently. Return vegetable mixture to skillet; cook an additional 2 or 3 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally.
SPOON chicken mixture evenly onto lettuce leaves; sprinkle with cheese. Roll up. Serve warm.
Thai Lettuce Wraps with Cilantro:
Recipe and photo from Laura’s Lean Beef.
1 pound lean ground round
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 head cabbage or romaine lettuce, leaves separated
Lime wedges (optional)Saute beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 to 10 minutes or until meat crumbles and is no longer pink; drain.Add mint, cilantro and next 4 ingredients to beef and stir until heated.
Spoon mixture in center of cabbage or lettuce leaves, and roll up. Serve with additional lime wedges, if desired.
Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps:
Recipe and photo from Willie Green’s Organic Farm.
2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1” pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil
1 small Walla Walla Sweet onion, diced
1/3 cup sliced water chestnuts
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
8 large leaves of colorful pliable lettuce
1/4 small cabbage, sliced thin
3 to 4 carrots cut into matchsticks
1/4 pound snow peas sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the chicken, lightly brown one side. Add the sesame and chili oil, onion and water chestnuts. Finish browning the chicken. Add soy sauce and set aside to cool slightly. Lay out a lettuce leaf, removing the stem if stiff. Place a couple of spoonfuls of the chicken mixture at the stem end. Add cabbage, carrots, peas and cilantro. Roll the lettuce like a burrito. Repeat for the other leaves.
Chicken Lettuce Wraps:
Recipe and photo by Joanne Weir.
This is one of those dishes that I have to order every single time I go to Chinatown and see them on the menu. I love the crunch of the lettuce, the saltiness of the soy sauce, and the sweetness of the oyster sauce. You can substitute turkey, pork, or squab with equally delicious results.
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 pound ground dark meat chicken
8 scallions, white and green parts, minced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2/3 cup water chestnuts, chopped
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 large head butter lettuce, leaves separated
Warm the oil in a skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, scallions, and cornstarch and cook, stirring constantly, until the chicken is cooked and broken into pieces, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the water chestnuts, soy sauce, ginger, and oyster sauce and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
To serve, take 1 lettuce leaf at a time and spoon a heaping tablespoon of the chicken mixture into the center. Wrap the lettuce around the filling. Serve.
Lettuce Wraps with Chili Peanut Noodles:
Chili Peanut Noodles:
3 ounces bean thread noodles
1/2 cup peanut butter, unsweetened
3 tablespoons brown rice syrup
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tablespoons shoyu or tamari
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoon chili sauce
1/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup dehydrated coconut flakes
1/2 cup cilantro, rinsed, dried and chopped
1/2 medium red onion, minced
1/2 cup toasted peanuts, roughly chopped
4 limes, quartered
1 head butter lettuce, such as Boston, rinsed, dried and leaves separated
Hoisin sauce, on the side
Chili peanut sauce, on the side (leftover from above)
Ingredient note: While bean thread packages often come in 3.75 oz sizes, you will not use a whole package for this recipe.
Soften noodles in medium pot of hot water under tender, about 15 minutes. Bring noodles to a boil and cook 1 minute then drain and set aside. Using a food processor, mix together the peanut butter, brown rice syrup, garlic, shoyu or tamari, lime juice, chili sauce and the 1/3 cup warm water until combined thoroughly. Dress the noodles with cup of the sauce.
Arrange all of the lettuce wrap fillings from coconut to noodles in individual serving dishes or on a large platter. Let guests create their own lettuce wraps by rolling up lettuce to eat like a taco or burrito. Serve with extra hoisin and peanut sauces for dressing.
Mix-n-Match Lettuce Tacos:
Recipe by Rachael Ray, Food Network.
1 large head Iceberg Lettuce, cored than cut into quarters
1 (10-ounce) bag shredded Cheddar cheese
4 Scallions, chopped
1 cup chopped green Olives with Pimentos
1 tablespoon extra virgin Olive oil
1 pound ground Sirloin
1 small yellow Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
1/2 Red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Chili powder
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Tomato sauce
Add oil to skillet over medium-high heat and brown meat. Add onions, garlic, red peppers, and season with Worcestershire, chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook mixture 5 minutes more, then add tomato sauce, stir to combine and turn off heat.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 Jalapeno or Serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 pound small Shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Zest and juice of 1 Lime
1 handful chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat, add garlic, jalapeno chile pepper, and shrimp. Cook stirring constantly until shrimp are pink and firm, about 4 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, lime zest, juice and parsley.
Prepare all ingredients for fillings before you start. Start shrimp last as only takes 5 minutes to cook.
Serve fillings in bowls with lettuce, scallions, cheese and olives along side. Take piece of lettuce and cut a scoop of filling on top, garnish with scallions, cheese, and olives, then fold up and eat.
Vegetable Potpourri Lettuce Wraps:
Any vegetables you have laying around
1 head of lettuce (iceberg, romaine, or even cabbage)
Oriental dressing (optional)
1 small lime (optional)
Chinese noodles (Ramen, etc.)
This recipe is fabulous because it tastes great. It is healthy, easy, and cleans those odds and ends of veggies out of your fridge.
Cut up any veggies into bite-sized pieces and put in frying pan…crispier veggies work best. Eggplant adds a ‘meaty’ texture if you want that. Crumble a pack of noodles into the frying pan along with vegetables. Add garlic, onion, or whatever your favorite seasoning is.
For the sauce, you can use just teriyaki, or soy sauce, or whatever you like. Dump sauce into pan with other stuff.
Briefly stir-fry mixture until noodles are tender and spoon into large lettuce leaves (any kind). For extra-soothing refreshment, squeeze fresh lime into mixture. Roll up the lettuce leaves and mixture like a taco, enjoy! Wonderful served cold also with the lime. Perfect for summer days!
Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps:
Kids love these. For picky eaters, just prepare all the ingredients, and let everyone garnish their wraps.
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
2 garlic cloves, minced
Dash of sea salt
4 (6-oz) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
8 Boston lettuce leaves
1 cup fresh mint leaves (about 10 ounces)
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
Chopped peanuts (optional)
Combine first 9 ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Reserve 2 tablespoons oil mixture. Place remaining oil mixture in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken breast halves; seal and marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour, turning occasionally. Remove chicken from bag, and discard marinade.
Heat a large nonstick grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; grill 12 minutes or until chicken is done, turning once. Let stand 5 minutes before thinly slicing.
Divide chicken evenly among lettuce leaves; top each lettuce leaf with 2 tablespoons mint, 1 tablespoon sprouts, and about 1 teaspoon reserved oil mixture.
Serve with lime wedges. Garnish with chopped peanuts, if desired.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 wraps and 2 lime wedges).
Fish Tacos in Lettuce Wraps:
2 pounds grouper fish fillets
Salt and pepper
Bib or green leaf lettuce leaves
1 jalapeno, seeded & chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves
3 sprigs fresh mint
3 tablespoons grainy mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
Heat grill pan or nonstick skillet over high heat. Spray the pan with cooking spray. Place fish on grill, season with salt and pepper and cook 5 minutes on each side, until opaque.
Arrange lettuce leaves on a platter. Place jalapeno in a food processor with cilantro, mint, mustard and vinegar. T urn processor on and stream in oil. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
Take the fish off grill and place on a serving plate. Break the fish into chunks and squeeze lime juice over fish. Add a few dashes hot sauce to the fish.
Pile fish in lettuce leaves and top with sauce and chopped red onions.
Yields 4 servings.