Monday, January 13, 2014

31 Days of Green: Day 13 Lettuce

I think lettuces are a quintessential ‘healthy’ food. I worked as a waitress for many years and whenever I had a customer that was dieting or “trying to be good,” they would order a salad. I’ve never really thought about salads as a diet food, just another meal option. I think where people go wrong with salad is the way they make it up, after all, like any good event, (which every meal should be a good event!) its all in the details. A lot of people look for low fat dressing but fat actually helps you absorb the vitamins in the lettuce much better. We are spoiled around here because we only eat homemade salad dressing; I’m pretty convinced one of the reasons my husband married me is because I can make honey mustard dressing (thanks mom!) If you want the treasure chest to delicious homemade salad dressings just go here. Now why am I going on about salad when todays green is lettuce? Well, it seems like no matter what you do with lettuce it is a salad. There are really a lot of other things to do with lettuce, but it tastes so fantastic on its own that a salad is the most popular way to eat it. You can, however, use it like other greens in a sauté, you can use it as a topping, and you can use it in place of bread/tortillas to make wraps!

Making your own dressing is easy, tastes better, and is more nutritios. 

I love buying lettuce at the farmers market because they have ‘boutique’ varieties. Which I think is just a fancy way of saying heirloom. They have so many options of beautiful lettuces that I do feel like I’m picking out a new jewel, except it goes on my plate! And at only 1-2 dollars a head, that’s a jewel I can afford. I don’t think I have a favorite. When I was a kid it was pretty much romaine or iceberg, but now there is red leaf, bibb, butter-head, little gem, and so many others. I even like the weird grass looking stuff! Lettuce may appear unassuming but it is really full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water; because who wants to drink their eight glasses? You can read more about it here.

Today’s recipe comes to you from the persistent urging of my sister! We were talking about eating salads (because we’re ladies of course!) and we got on the topic of trying to get our husbands to eat salads. It’s a little more tricky because even though it is really filling, it still has that “its light” “it’s a health food” connotation. Thus the ‘man salad’ was invented, which is really just a salad that has plenty of details! She also told me about lettuce wraps. We are so thankful that she didn’t give up on asking me if I’d made them yet. They are super simple but look nice and are a great way to stretch meat. The recipe I have today is so adaptable, you can use whatever spices and vegetables you like. The only rule is you have to wrap it up in some lettuce and dip it in a tasty sauce. Make these for a ladies lunch or a boy’s night. (Or I will give my sister your number!)

Lettuce Wraps

Gluten Free
Serves 2-4

1 head lettuce, any variety with large and flexible leaves

¼- ½ pound grass-fed ground beef
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp mustard seed
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp nutmeg

½ head cabbage, shredded
5 leaves chard or kale, shredded
½ red onion, sliced
salt to taste

Any type of sauce/dressing for dipping. I made a version of this and added peanuts to thicken it up.

Mix the spices into your meat and then brown it in a pan. Remove from the pan and add the onion. Cook the onion until it starts to soften and brown then add the cabbage and cook for a few minutes. Then add the chard and cook for about 2 more minutes or until the veggies are tender, then turn off the heat and leave the pan. I like to scoot the veggies over and put the meat back to keep it warm. Now make the wraps by rinsing the larger leaves and putting a little bit of meat and a little bit of veggies in the center and rolling it up like a burrito. Simply take one side of the lettuce and fold it over the filling tucking it into the filling, then fold the sides in and roll the rest of the way. Set it down on the seam to hold it together. You can use a toothpick if you’d like. If your leaves are broken or small you can use the smaller inner leaves to cover the holes or lay several leaves together. I got about 8 wraps and 2 open face ones from the small inner leaves. Serve with sauce for dipping, and napkins!

Select a larger leaf

Cover any holes with a smaller leaf

Roll it up
You can make them any size you'd
 like by varying the amount of filling

Notes and Substitutions

  • You can spice the meat anyway you’d like, but definitely spice it!
  • I used cabbage, onion, and chard because that’s what I had. Choose any veggies you’d like.

What is your favorite salad dressing? Do you have any fun ways to use lettuce?

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