Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lettuce Wraps with Almond Sauce

My 16-day food experiment (in which I eliminated meat, dairy, wheat, soy, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes and potatoes, high GI fruits like melon and pineapple, and common allergens like peanuts) is over.  I didn't have any great epiphanies about my nutrition during this time, but most of the time I felt healthy and not deprived so I consider it a good learning experience.

The main things I learned about myself are: 1) I love bread/pitas/tortillas/crackers and really missed them, 2) I like green cucumber/celery/apple/lemon/ginger juice in the morning, and 3) I didn't miss sugar and caffeine as much as I thought I would, which tells me I was consuming too much for the amount of enjoyment it brought me.

In the beginning, I was very clumsy and unimaginative with my food planning - lots of roasted sweet potatoes with sauteed kale and beans and rice with avocado.  Now that I'm in the groove, I'm making more elaborate dinners.  This is a recipe that fits the plan, and it doesn't feel like you're missing out on anything.

This would be a great appetizer for a Superbowl party - bring the stir fried filling and a pile of lettuce wrappers and let people make their own wraps.  I brought some wraps to work for lunch and they're a little messy, so the next day I just ripped up all the lettuce and made it into a big salad to eat with a fork.

Probably the best thing here is the almond dipping sauce.  It's super easy - just blitz a few ingredients in your blender and you're done.  The flavor is outstanding and it's a thick enough consistency that it makes an awesome dip for raw carrot or celery sticks.  I'm making a second batch of this filling tonight to make more wraps because it's so tasty.  That should tell you all you need to know!

Lettuce Wraps with Almond Sauce, adapted from Meghan Telpner
Serves 4

Almond Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup raw almonds, chopped (to help your blender)
1/4 cup cool water
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp maple syrup
2 tsp soy sauce or tamari
1/2 clove garlic, grated on microplane
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
dash cayenne
pinch kosher salt

Lettuce Wrap Filling:
1 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic, grated on microplane
1 inch ginger, grated on microplane
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups veggies, any kind - diced fine (I've used onion, red pepper, mushroom, snap peas, broccoli slaw, cabbage, celery, green beans, and they all work great)

For wraps:
1 head iceberg lettuce, bibb lettuce, or cabbage, leaves separated
grated carrot
chopped almonds
hot sauce

First make your almond dipping sauce by blending first 9 ingredients (almonds through salt) until smooth and set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together the first 5 filling ingredients (soy sauce through crushed red pepper) and set aside.

Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat with 1 Tbsp neutral oil (not olive oil).  Add your diced veggies and cook over screaming hot heat for 2-3 minutes or until they start to get some color and soften.  Add your reserved whisked filling mixture and cook 30 seconds.  Remove from heat.

Assemble your wraps by filling lettuce leaves with veggie mixture, garnish with carrots, almonds, and hot sauce, and dip in almond dipping sauce.

ONE YEAR AGO:  Chocolate Chickpea Cake
TWO YEARS AGO:  Mushroom Bourguignon
THREE YEARS AGO:  Split Pea Soup

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