Lettuce wraps – I know, enough already. If you are a person who frequents hip local bistro’s or the ‘premium-casual’ Canadian chains like Earls, Joey’s or Moxies, then you’ve probably tried a variation on this. I’ve tired it at several places, looking for something unique, but it is usually the same fare – sauteed mixed vegetables in a vaguely ‘Asian’ sauce served with crunchy noodles and lettuce to wrap it up. I should change my tone because I’m not actually cynical about this – it is an excellent dish. Rather I am sick of seeing such a simple item on a menu and paying $10+ for it when it is über simple and inexpensive at home. This version requires few ingredients, all simple, and most of which are probably in your kitchen right now.
When I lived with my sister Sarah she would make this time to time and it was always excellent. Unfortunately I believe it is a Rachel Ray recipe. I have nothing against RR except her extreme enthusiasm talking into the camera, seemingly alone on the set of her cooking show – very annoying. Alas, I must give her props for this very healthy, very tasty weekday 15 minute meal. Sarah gave me the recipe, so she gets full credit… and as for Rachel Ray – please go away.
Start by adding 2 diced chicken breasts to a pan on medium-high with some olive oil. While that begins to brown, clean and dice one yellow and one red pepper and add to the pan. Stir-fry until the peppers soften up then add 1/3 cup of sweet chili sauce and 1/3 cup of honey. Continue to fry and glaze everything with the mixture. Have a taste as it may need pepper and salt, though remember there’s plenty of salt in the chili sauce. To finish, add a handful of chopped peanuts, a generous handful of chopped fresh basil and the juice of 1 lime. Until the basil, this is kinda flat – the basil will make it fantastic. If you want to make wraps then butter lettuce is the best choice. It’s round, wrappable and kinda stretchy. I tend to use romaine, as I usually have it on hand, and it will do just fine. Wrap crispy noodles with the mixture and enjoy.
The flavour is slightly spicy, sweet and fresh. The textures are varied with tender chicken, soft peppers, crisp lettuce, crunchy noodles and peanuts. You wouldn’t think it, but it is totally satisfying. After you’ve made this a few times, you may decide that its easier to eat as a salad. Simply chop everything into a bowl – which is exactly what I did after I snapped this photo. The wraps are great for entertaining or for kids, but lets be honest – If you are making this for yourself or for two, the salad is just cleaner and easier to eat.
As bored as I am with lettuce wraps on a menu, I love this recipe because I always feel great after I eat it. There is so much veg and so much flavour and that feels good. If using chicken breast, the fat content is small so don’t be afraid to eat a lot. I always take the leftovers to work for lunch and my co-workers are envious, so go do it!