The cover of the Food & Wine section on August 5 will feature a Cherry Berry Smooth Bowl. Inside you'll find more recipes plus buying, cooking and health tips on a variety of food-related subjects. For past food stories and recipes go to www.tri-cityherald.com/food-wine.
Lettuce wraps are an ideal light dinner option
Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press
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Lettuce wraps are ideal for a light dinner option. They’re also a good substitute for flour tortillas or lavash-style wraps, if you’re trying to avoid extra carbs. Another bonus is lettuce leaves are practically a free food nutrition-wise because they’re fat-free and nearly calorie free.
When you think about making lettuce wraps, consider leftovers you have on hand. Just about any vegetable or chicken, pork or beef can be used.
Today’s recipe for Fresh Vegetables and Noodle Lettuce Wraps with Hoisin feature crunchy carrots and bell pepper mixed in with soft napa cabbage and noodles.
The recipe calls for rice noodles, but you can substitute any thin long-strand cooked pasta, such as angel hair.
Using butter or bibb lettuce leaves is best because they are softer and more pliable. The softer lettuce makes it easier to hold and, if you like, to roll up.
If you want to serve these as an appetizer, use the Little Gem lettuce. The Little Gem are like a tiny version of romaine and butter lettuce mix. I like them because nearly every leaf is uniform in size, making it easy to use for appetizers.
As a dipping sauce, serve these with hoisin sauce - an Asian-barbecue sauce of sorts. Most grocery stores carry it in the ethnic food aisle. Substitute your favorite Asian-style dipping sauce if you like.
This recipe is easily adaptable to veggies you have on hand. Add leftover cooked chicken strips or beef strips for a hearty flavor.
Fresh Vegetable and Noodle Lettuce Wraps with Hoisin
Preparation time: 15 minutes. Total time: 30 minutes. Servings: 12.
1/2 cup peeled and very thinly sliced carrots
1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 cup shredded napa cabbage
1/2 cup enoki mushrooms, rinsed and well dried, or thinly sliced mushrooms
1 serrano chili, washed, seeded and diced
3 ounces rice noodles, softened in hot water and drained
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
12 butter or bibb lettuce leaves (from about 2 medium heads)
1/2 cup hoisin sauce for dipping
In a large bowl, combine the carrots, red bell pepper, cabbage, mushrooms, chili and noodles.
Add the sesame oil, olive oil, lime juice and cilantro and toss them to combine.
Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Allow the mixture to stand 15 minutes.
Lay the lettuce leaves out flat and fill each one with a spoonful or more of the vegetable mixture. Roll the lettuce leaves to close them slightly, or serve them open face and allow guests to roll them up.
Place the wraps on a platter and serve them with a dish of hoisin sauce for dipping or drizzling over the vegetable mixture.
Adapted from Kitchen Coach: Weeknight Cooking by Jennifer Bushman (Wiley, $19.95).
Nutrition: 108 calories (50 percent from fat), 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 13 g carbohydrates, 1 g protein, 179 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 15 mg calcium, 1 g fiber.