I’m obsessed with things wrapped in lettuce.
Which seems an appropriate response to having a gluten allergy, since buns and bread are effectively off the table, right? Every week I eat at least one dish that uses crisp romaine or butter lettuce wraps as the vessel with which I deliver said deliciousness into my belly.
I’m also a fan of simplicity, and this recipe couldn’t be easier. You can even be super lazy and just buy grocery store Hoisin sauce, although, for anyone with celiac, that’s a risky proposition, as most store-bought brands contain soy sauce. Also if you don’t make the sauce from scratch, you’re missing a huge part of what makes this dinner so flavorful and awesome. The moral of this paragraph? Make the sauce. In fact, make a double batch.
What makes my lettuce wraps recipe different from the mainstream recipes out there, is the addition of more veggies. The best thing about Asian cuisine, to my mind, is the ease with which all sorts of vegetables can slide into a dish all stealth-like and punch up the color, crunch, and fiber quotient while making only a modest flavor difference. Typically the sauce situation takes care of that. So I say “more veggies for all!” Seriously though, add even just one additional veggie to your stir-fries or your take-out from now on. Your body and your taste buds will thank you.
Since I didn’t want to monkey with the original filling recipe too much except to add bamboo shoots, I opted to veg-ify this recipe with the addition of a crisp coleslaw, reminiscent of cucumber salad. Packaged broccoli slaw is my favorite mixture to use for this crunchy condiment, although last time when I couldn’t find it, I subbed a lovely kale, cabbage and Brussels sprout slaw to which I added shredded carrot. Basically, whatever shredded veggie combo strikes your fancy ought to do the trick. Toss a handful of that in a tangy dressing infused with sesame oil and chili flakes, chill briefly before serving and you have a bright garnish that almost steals the show. Almost. There’s still that dreamy sauce…
Another great thing about this recipe is that you can make it with whatever protein your heart desires. Organic, grass-fed beef makes bomb lettuce wraps, but you’ll usually find these babies made with ground dark-meat turkey in my household. Even the roommate can’t get enough of these and he generally likes to eschew my healthy cooking as dramatically unsatisfying by virtue of it being gluten-free.
Meaning, he rarely eats my food, out of principle.
This recipe, however, makes him say, “Principles be damned!” Actually, that’s never happened. But since he’s happily munching away on these as I type, that must be what he’s thinking, right?
Point is, you’re going to want to make this your something delicious today.
Lettuce Wraps with Tangy Asian Slaw (Gluten- and Refined Sugar-Free)
- Prep Time: 20 m + 1 hour to chill coleslaw
- Cook Time: 8 m
- Total Time: 30 m
- Yield: 4 servings
- 1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tbsp organic cornstarch
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp mirin (rice wine)
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp Sriracha, adjust to taste
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil (or other neutral tasting oil)
- 1 pound organic ground turkey, chicken, pork or beef
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and diced
- 1 (8-ounce) can bamboo shoots, drained and diced
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 head butter lettuce
- 1 cup Asian coleslaw
- Chopped peanuts or almonds
- Make coleslaw. Place in fridge to chill for one hour.
- In a small bowl, combine soy sauce and cornstarch, whisking until smooth. Add rice vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, Sriracha, honey, and ginger, and whisk until well-combined.
- In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground meat, a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, breaking it into small pieces, until no longer pink (about 5 minutes). Remove the meat from the skillet and set it aside.
- Add the remaining tablespoon oil, add the diced onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the minced garlic and cook until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes more.
- Return the cooked meat to the skillet, add the sauce, and mix to combine. Cook until the sauce begins to thicken (1 to 2 minutes). Remove from the heat, and add the water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and green onions.
- Take a leaf of lettuce and spoon in about 1/3 cup of the meat. Top with Asian coleslaw and chopped nuts.
Tangy Asian Coleslaw (Gluten- and Refined Sugar-Free)
Leftovers of this bright slaw are delicious served alongside grilled meats or tossed into a sashimi salad. Store up to 2 days in the fridge.
- Prep Time: 5 m + 1 hour to chill
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 m
- Half bag broccoli slaw mix
- 1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce or tamari
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- pinch crushed red pepper
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly torn
- In a medium bowl, mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, oils and pepper flakes.
- Add slaw mixture and stir to coat.
- Chill 1 hour before serving, stirring every so often to coat veggies.
- Add cilantro right before serving.