Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lettuce Wraps

One of my favorite things to eat is a good lettuce wrap. I've ordered them at plenty of restaurants but I've never found one that I just think is fantastic or makes me want to order again. So, tonight I decided to do a little recipe testing of my own to see if I could make the perfect lettuce wrap. Folks, I think I came pretty darn close! So, let's break it down...

Karin's Lettuce Wraps

Apricot Sauce
5 apricots, sliced
2 tbs pure maple syrup (the real stuff please)
1 tbs butter
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
Freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 cup water

Put butter and apricots in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Cook down for about 5 minutes. Add the brown sugar and maple syrup. Bring to a boil. Cook for 5-8 more minutes. The apricots will be getting quite soft at this point. You can help them along with a wooden spoon. Add the water and let boil for about 3 more minutes. Remove from heat, but keep the stove on. Pour the apricot mixture into a sieve (I used a small handheld colander) and into a small saucepan. Use a wooden spoon to smash the apricots through the sieve. You won't be able to get them all through, but spend the time to get as much as you can through the sieve. Put the saucepan back on the heat (still medium high). Bring back to a boil. Add the soy sauce and the freshly ground nutmeg. Reduce the sauce by almost half. Turn the heat way down and let sit while you prepare the turkey.

Meat mixture
1 lb. ground turkey
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Lawry's seasoning salt
Ground cumin
Ground ginger (use fresh, if you've got it)
Freshly ground nutmeg
Coconut oil

In a large pan, melt the coconut oil down over medium heat. When it's melted and hot, add the shallots and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes until they just start to brown. Add the turkey and cook through. Add all the seasonings to taste. Add the prepared apricot sauce to the turkey, cut the heat to low and let sit, stirring once in a while. All the flavors need time to meld together.

Spiced Nuts
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped pecans (peanuts would be ideal, but I didn't have any)
1 tbs. whole coriander seeds
2 tsp. whole fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cardamon
Walnut oil (you could use olive, coconut or canola oil)

Toast the pecans in a small pan over low-medium heat for just a few minutes. Be careful, as they can burn quickly. Don't walk away. Remove the nuts to a small bowl. I don't have a mortar and pestal but I needed to break these spices up before toasting (you could do it after toasting). I put all the spices in a bowl, got out a small wooden tool normally used for pushing meat into the meat grinder, and I smashed the spices until they were no longer whole. I then put them into the pan I'd toasted the pecans in and added a little walnut oil (maybe 1/2 tsp). I stirred this around until they were toasted and giving off THE most wonderful fragrance. I added the pecans back in and stirred them around until they were coated in the spiced mixture. I let them cook for about 2 minutes more. Then I added the nuts to the meat mixture and let those flavors combine for 5-10 minutes.

2 carrots, grated
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
Fresh pineapple
Fresh lettuce leaves (the traditional lettuce is iceberg, but I don't really like how it tastes and prefer green leaf lettuce or bibb (butter) lettuce. We used green leaf today.

Putting it all together
I brought everything to the table so my family could make their own lettuce wraps. I kept the cilantro and carrots in separate bowls, so people could have as much or as little as they wanted. The pineapple was a delightful side dish with the lettuce wrap and complimented the meal really well.

While I was preparing this, I had all sorts of other ideas for lettuce wraps, involving almond butter, cashews, pineapple and other great flavors. I'm excited to test out a few more recipes, but this one is definitely a keeper! How else can I get my children to WILLINGLY eat all these veggies not just once, but several helpings over?

Try this one out! You won't regret it!!