A healthy, delicious and good looking meal or snack - Lettuce Wraps ! I often crave these... not only are they are fun to eat - they are low in fat.
If I'm making these for a casual dinner at home I simply toss the mixture on a bed of shredded lettuce. But they are just as easy to jazz up for a dinner party appetizer by using small leaves of bib or Boston lettuce, placing your filling inside and securing each bundle with a chive. To make your ties just dip the chives in hot water to soften. I use chives, strips of green onion or strips of leeks to tie bundles of anything.... carrots and beans for an elegant side, wild mushroom crepes for a delicate canapé or petit Peking duck rolls.
My favourite recipe for Lettuce Wraps is one mom has used for years out of Chatelaine Magazine - its a family favourite. Here it is for you to add to your repertoire:
Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Dinner is all wrapped up in this fragrant stir-fry mixture using lower-fat ground chicken. After cooking, it's rolled in or heaped onto lettuce leaves to make a nutrient-rich meal. Try them at a buffet or informal family dinner.
Cooking time 10 minutes
Preparation time 10 minutes
Makes 4 servings
* 2 heads Boston lettuce
* 1/4 tsp (1 mL) each of ground cardamom, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, ground coriander and cumin
* 1/2 tsp (2 mL) garlic powder
* 1 tsp (5 mL) vegetable oil
* 1 lb (500 g) ground chicken
* 1 small onion, chopped
* 10 oz (284 mL) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
* 1 small carrot
* 2 celery stalks
* 4 green onions
* 8 medium-size shitake mushrooms
* 1/3 cup (75 mL) water
* 2 tbsp (30 mL) oyster or hoisin sauce
* 2 tbsp (30 mL) dry sherry
* 1 cup (250 mL) bean sprouts (optional)
1. Separate lettuce into leaves. Wash and pat dry. Refrigerate while preparing filling. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Without adding any oil, sprinkle in cardamom, cayenne, cinnamon, coriander, cumin and garlic powder. Stir spices until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add oil, ground chicken and onion to pan. Stir often with a fork to keep mixture crumbly until chicken is no longer pink, from 4 to 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, coarsely chop water chestnuts. Grate or julienne carrot. Slice celery diagonally into 1/4-inch (0.5-cm) pieces. Finely chop green onions. Thinly slice mushrooms. Mushrooms should measure about 1 cup (250 mL).
3. When chicken is cooked, increase heat to high. Stir in water chestnuts, carrot, celery, green onions and mushrooms. Pour in water. Cook, uncovered and stirring often to develop flavour and reduce sauce, about 3 minutes. Stir in oyster sauce and sherry. Remove pan from heat. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Stir in bean sprouts, if using. Turn mixture into a serving bowl.
4. To serve, set bowl with chicken mixture in centre of a large platter and arrange lettuce around bowl. Or place a few lettuce leaves on a plate to make a ¿cup,¿ then fill with chicken. Or spoon 2 heaping tablespoons (30 mL) mixture onto centre of lettuce leaf, fold top part of leaf down over some of mixture, fold one open side over filling, then roll to enclose. The stalk end of lettuce leaf will still be open and filling will show. Serve with hoisin sauce for dipping or drizzle over chicken mixture once it is spooned onto lettuce.
Note: Cooked chicken mixture will keep well, covered and refrigerated, overnight. If using bean sprouts, do not add them until after reheating chicken mixture.
Hope you enjoy them as much as we do !