Whenever I hear the word “lettuce wraps” my mind jumps to P.F. Changs. I love P.F. Changs, don’t get me wrong. But the problem with a lot of Chinese food places is the salt. Every time I eat something with soy sauce my saliva turns into dust and I feel like I need to get hooked up to an I.V. just to get my fluids back in check.
But I love lettuce wraps. I can’t just NOT eat them. What on earth can I do about this situation? BLAM!!! Idea pops in my head. “Who says lettuce wraps have to be Asian?” I mean, we’re really just talking about a salad, only packaged differently.
The lettuce wraps we had this past week, I kid you not, were the BEST lettuce wraps I have ever had in my life. For these particular lettuce wraps, I wanted to keep it fresh. Remember, we’re trying to change our eating habits over here, and fresh is the way to go. That being said, my body is still going through withdrawals and I need to get as much flavor out of our foods as I can, or I’m going to snap. So we’re going to split our ingredients up, cook some, leave some fresh. Check it.
Cooked ingredients (adjust amounts as needed):
Chicken– 1 piece for 2 people is enough- cut into smallish pieces
Green Bell Pepper– finely chopped
Mushroom– finely chopped (you can use any kind you want- we used cremini)
Onion– finely chopped (we used purple onion, which is mostly used fresh in salads or things like that, but it’s what we had and since purple onions are a little sweeter it turned out really good)
Jalapeno– seeded, ribs trimmed, finely chopped (I love the flavor of jalapenos, but I’m not the kind of guy who wants my mouth to be burning every bite. Most of the heat is in the ribs and seeds, so removing that stuff gives a lot of good flavor and the perfect hint of spice- if you have little kids, you can leave this out)
|Green pepper, mushroom, jalapeno, purple onion|
Put your chicken in a nonstick pan with a little olive oil and salt and pepper (kosher salt, if you have it- if you don’t use kosher salt, then you are missing out. it’s not much more expensive and it makes a drastic difference. seriously). After the chicken gets cooking a bit, toss the other ingredients in and cook until vegetables are tender. Make sure you keep an eye on them and toss them around a bit so nothing burns.
|when chicken gets to this point, add the other stuff|
Ok, so while that’s cooking you can get your fresh or “uncooked” ingredients ready. Here’s what you need:
Iceberg lettuce (you can use other kinds too. I just really like the texture of the iceberg)
Red Bell Pepper (the contrast of the cooked green pepper and the sweet, raw red pepper is really something special)
Fresh Basil (if you don’t have fresh basil, fresh cilantro would work too. DO NOT substitute for dry herbs- won’t be the same)
Blue Cheese (left over from our pork chops last week- if you don’t have blue cheese, any kind of feta would work or even crumbled goat cheese, if you’re a real food lover)
|what I started with for 2 people|
For the cooked ingredients, you want to chop them pretty fine because you’re basically turning it all into a stuffing, and big pieces are harder to manage. For the fresh ingredients, you still want the pieces to be pretty small, but you can cut them however you want. Thin slices seem to work better imo.
|ready to rock|
By this time, the chicken and stuff should be cooked so take it off the heat and let is cool down for just a few minutes. To top it, you can use whatever salad dressing you have around or, if you’re feeling really daring, make your own vinaigrette. Here’s how we made ours:
2 parts olive oil
1 part balsamic vinegar
1/2 part red wine vinegar
1/2 part bbq sauce (blue cheese and smokey bbq flavor are a natural pair- if you’re using another cheese, I would substitute the bbq sauce for dijon mustard- a thicker sauce like that will help the dressing emulsify so the oil and vinegars don’t separate)
Mix it all together and add a crack of black pepper and a pinch of salt
That’s it. Easy, right? Take a leaf of the iceberg and top it with your cooked ingredients, some fresh ingredients and a drizzle of your dressing.
|finished product… makes me want to eat it again…|
I hope this gets your mind going a bit. Do you have a favorite salad that you just can’t get enough of but your spouse tries to tell you that salad isn’t a real meal? Well, turn that salad into lettuce wraps and no one can say “boo.” With a meal like this, who would complain anyway? Give it a try this week and let us know what you decided to use and how it turned out. We’d love to hear about it.