My favorite recipes to have are the ones that let you take whatever you have in the pantry or fridge, put it together, and make magic out of it. That’s exactly the goal with these lettuce wraps: take whatever might be going bad soon in the fridge and turn it into a delicious dinner. As I mentioned in my Watermelon Rind Pickles post, I’m all about avoiding food waste. Unfortunately, I’m also all about forgetting about produce until it’s inches from death. So because of that, I run to recipes like this when it becomes apparent that I need to use or lose my veggies.
Lettuce wraps are a simple recipe that can be dressed up any way you choose. This recipe was given to me by my friend Maredith, who made it for us all when we took a weekend trip to the lake. My husband is a picky eater, but claims to like most vegetables. I was skeptical until he asked for me to recreate Maredith’s lettuce wraps when we got back from the lake, and even seemed excited to have them again! Now it’s such a staple in our house that we got a salad spinner (appropriately gifted by Maredith herself) JUST to make our lettuce wraps even easier to make.
If anyone is familiar with larb from Laos, this is quite similar. By removing the meat and upping the vegetable content, we kept it vegetarian while not sacrificing any flavor. Vegetables wrapped in lettuce leaves? Your body is thanking you for the nutrients just from reading that. Don’t worry though, we make sure to douse it all in ample amounts of teriyaki sauce to make sure it’s bursting with flavor. The key to the success of this recipe is to use lettuce leaves that are broad and sturdy, to hold the filling well without falling apart.
The best thing about these lettuce wraps is that they can be customized to fit the season you’re in. When I first made them, it was summer and I had a ton of wonderful seasonal produce to choose from. Now that it’s fall, I don’t have to stop making them! There’s a variety of late summer squash and early autumn/winter squash varieties that could work well in here, as well as sweet potato, beet, turnip, and rutabaga. You could also change the sauce up and go for something creamier or more tart depending on your preferences. Maybe a lime and ginger sauce? A peanut sauce? These wraps are a canvas, and you’re the painter. Make a masterpiece!
I hope you’ll use your creativity and come up with a combination that works for you. Recipes are great guides, but they’re just the first step to becoming a great cook. I can’t wait to see what spin you take on these! Until then, here’s to good drinking, great eating, and even better living.
Lettuce Wraps with Teriyaki Mixed Vegetables
- Salad spinner
- 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 yellow onion
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 green chili (jalapeño or shishito)
- 3 mixed summer squash (zucchini or crookneck, etc)
- 1 tomato
- 1/2 bag meatless crumbles (tofu or soy-based, optional)
- 1/2 jar teriyaki sauce (from a 5 oz. jar)
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 head strong-ribbed lettuce (like romaine – not iceberg)
- Chop all ingredients and set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and green chili, and sauté for about 8 minutes, or until onions are translucent.
- Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add squash and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the tomato and cook for about 2 minutes, or until tomato begins to break down and release its juices. Add seasonings, sauce, and crumbles (if using), and cook for 5 minutes, covered. Then remove the lid and cook for 5 more minutes, letting the sauce reduce.
- While the filling finishes cooking, wash the lettuce and dry with a salad spinner. Serve the lettuce alongside the filling and have guests serve themselves. Feel free to play around with filling types, and enjoy!