Lately I have been focusing on how to incorporate more plant based meals into my diet. I am thinking maybe 3 to 4 days a week and then indulge on the weekends. By indulge I mean introducing poultry and meat. I have come up with some recipes full of flavour for all kinds of diets: vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, kosher...maybe use tahini for a KETO Thai peanut sauce.
First up this week, Thai lettuce wraps. These wraps are really about the Thai peanut sauce. They can go on the bland side if you don't kick up the spice level with fresh ginger, and Thai chilies and/or hot sauce. So be generous if you enjoy spice!
The proteins I decided to use are chickpeas and the Tofu Hamburger, I've used in other recipes on this blog. A friend of mine said, "I can't eat soybeans, doctor's orders". No worries, substitute with any protein you are comfortable with or enjoy. Virtually any protein works with lettuce wraps.
For the veg, carrots and bell peppers work well. I julienned them by hand. If you want to avoid that kind of work, then feel free to finely chop or perhaps use a kitchen tool to do the work for you. It all works.
As far as the lettuce goes, use a lettuce leaf with a natural cup shape. Boston lettuce for buttery texture or perhaps iceberg for a crisp refreshing taste and crunch. You can also use rice paper for the wrap, or even a wrap for the wrap. This recipe is very adaptable to all tastes.
Last but not least, pile on those toppings. Roasted nuts and sesame seeds, cilantro if you enjoy it, and tangy lime for sure, that is for citrus brightness.
I made this recipe and took 3/4 of the mixture, portioned it into freezer containers, divided the Thai peanut sauce and topped each portion. Then placed the portions into the freezer for when the lettuce wrap meal craving hits again.
Lettuce wraps are not a polite food. Get down and dirty. Let it drip away down your chin over your fingers, and have fun with it! I can hear your giggles from here. :)
Plant Based High Protein Lettuce Wraps with Thai Peanut Sauce
Works out to about 4 lettuce leaves per person, that is ¼ of the mixture per person.
1 cup vermicelli noodles, any kind
1 Tofu Hamburger recipe
1½ cups chickpeas, homemade or canned
1 tablespoon organic olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
2 carrots, julienned or chopped fine
3 green onions, chopped
Hot sauce to taste, optional (we used Frank’s Red Hot)
1 head butter lettuce or iceberg ( No lettuce? Then use rice paper for the wraps)
Limes for squeezing
Soak the vermicelli noodles in a large bowl with very hot or boiling water, while prepping the filling.
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pan.
Add sliced onion and garlic and cook until the onions are soft, about 2 minutes.
Add the bell peppers, carrots and hot sauce (if using) and stir to combine. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables are tender but crunchy.
Add chickpeas and Tofu Hamburger to the pan to heat through, mash a bit here and there.
Drain the rice noodles and add desired amount to the pan (about 2 cups, ½ cup per person).
Add the green onions.
Toss to combine.
Separate the leaves of the lettuce, rinse and dry.
Thai Peanut Sauce
½ cup peanut butter, smooth (you can use any nut or seed butter)
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil, or more to taste
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoons hot sauce, or 1 – 2 red Thai chilies chopped, or more to taste
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated or more to taste
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 lime, juice and grated zest
Add all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl or jar and stir to combine.
To assemble the wraps:
Take a leaf of lettuce
Top with the chickpea | tofu and noodle mix
Top with peanut sauce.
Sprinkle with desired toppings
Squeeze fresh lime, optional
Fresh red chili
Roasted Peanuts or cashews
More hot sauce
Prepare the filling and mix with sauce. Store in the fridge in air-tight containers for up to 3 days. Or freeze filling and sauce for 3 to 6 months to a year (depends on size of freezer).
As lettuce is perishable, store lettuce leaves in the fridge separate from the filling.
Tofu Hamburger (I make this ahead and always have in my freezer for later use)
12 ounces firm tofu, drained, finely crumble into a bowl
2 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons avocado oil
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon chili powder. Mild or spicy (less or more to your taste, if spicy)
½ teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Mix the above seasonings in a small bowl.
Combine with crumbled tofu.
Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet at 350 degrees F until dried out, about 45 minutes or longer to be extra crispy and chewy.
Use in recipes as a plant based substitution for hamburger or other ground protein.