WARNING: There will not be leftovers. 🙂
These lettuce wraps—really made amazing by the marinade I developed—are hands down, one of the best dishes I’ve ever made, including the animal-based dishes of my past. Lettuce wraps are easy, nutritious, and great for entertaining or just dinner.
I was so excited to receive my first reader request a couple of weeks ago. An old friend of mine, who recently started experimenting in the kitchen, contacted me for a recipe for chicken lettuce wraps. I told her that I would create a formula that allowed her sub in chicken if she wanted, but that my version, of course, would be vegan.
I’d like to start by describing some of the ingredients I’m using in today’s rendition. For my wraps, I’m using butter lettuce. The leaves make for perfectly cup-shaped vessels that can easily be folded up. (An alternative would be using endive to make lettuce “boats.”) Butter lettuce is low in calories (for those counting) and rich in vitamin A and phosphorous.
Next up, mini-sweet peppers. These are fantastic for snacking—you can dip them right into hummus or munch by themselves—and taste just like bell peppers. They happen to be cheaper than bells at my grocer and I love the color variety for food presentation. They are loaded with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as beta-carotene. They are delicious and very palatable raw.
The “meat” of today’s lettuce wraps takes the form of mini-portobello mushrooms. Like meat, these fungi are a source of protein, as well as an even richer source of copper, selenium, and vitamin B6. They are also among one of the only natural sources of vitamin D, although in small amounts. Portobello mushrooms are an ideal meat substitute for those still trying to kick the stuff. (PS: The large caps make for excellent burgers! PPS: That’s a crockpot of my three-bean chili in the background, which would also be delicious with mushrooms!) You can certainly eat the stems, but I remove them and save them for homemade veggie stock.
Finally, a word about green onions. As I mentioned in my bean salad formula, you want to try and power through with consuming some raw onions in your plant-based diet. They are great for skin elasticity and pack a lot of flavor. The green onions you see here were purchased years ago. I’m sorry…what? YEARS ago? That’s right. We bought a bunch of green onions a couple of years ago and continue to regrow them. You can place them in a cup like this in your window sill until they become large and then transfer them to a pot of dirt or garden. Once they are even larger, harvest, consume, and continue the cycle.
My absolute favorite part about this formula is that my lettuce wraps can be consumed completed raw or mostly raw. As you know, most fruits and vegetables are at their optimal nutrition level in a raw state, so I try to cook as little as possible. Mushrooms, in particular, do not need to be cooked, but should you consider another protein sources for these wraps, such as beans, there will be necessary cooking involved.
Today, I will be lightly cooking my portobello mushrooms just to reinforce their meaty texture and reduce the marinade. Everything else will be raw.
Travis and I polished off the entire batch of these lettuce wraps in one sitting; I imagine you will do the same. 🙂 Enjoy!
FORMULA BASE: LETTUCE WRAPS
Makes approximately 10 wraps/cups/boats
For the marinade/sauce:
- ½ cup room temperature seed or nut butter (seeds/nuts only) –> I’m using peanut.
- ¼ cup soy sauce or liquid amino acids* –> I’m using liquid amino acids.
- ¼ cup acid (citrus juice, vinegar, mustard, etc.) –> I’m using ¼ cup rice wine vinegar + an additional tbsp of whole grain mustard.
- ¼ cup liquid sweetener (agave syrup, maple syrup, etc.) –> I’m using light agave.
- 1 clove minced raw garlic
- 1 tbsp herbs and/or spices (optional) –> I’m using freshly grated ginger.
- 2+ dashes of hot sauce (optional) –> I’m using the minimum. 🙂
*See my profile of Sage Kitchen’s walnut sausage recipe for an explanation.
For the filling:
- 4-5 cups finely chopped protein (beans, lentils, mushrooms, tofu, tempeh, etc.) –> I’m using mini-portobello mushrooms.
- 2 cups finely chopped raw vegetables –> I’m using about a 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions and 1 ½ cups tri-color mini-sweet peppers.
- ½ cup finely chopped “crunch” (raw seeds, nuts, etc.) –> I’m using unsalted blanched peanuts.
Make your marinade by mixing all ingredients with a small whisk. Set aside.
Precook your protein if necessary (beans/lentils). Finely chop your protein and mix with approximately ½ of your marinade. Cover and place in the fridge for an hour.
During the hour that your protein is marinating, prepare your wraps/cups/boats, vegetables, and crunch element. When the hour is nearly up, heat a sauté pan over medium high heat, if you are planning to cook or heat your protein source.
If you are not cooking your protein, assemble your wraps according to taste preferences and add additional sauce if necessary. If you are cooking your protein, sauté it over medium high heat just long enough to reduce/thicken the marinade. Stir often to prevent sticking.
Let your protein cool for a few minutes in order to prevent wilting the lettuce. Assemble wraps accordingly. Save any leftover sauce to marinade other vegetables or use as a flavorful salad dressing.