Vegetarian Lettuce Wrap
Food wraps come in all forms: tortillas, tacos, naan, pita bread and egg rolls, to name a few. Then there’s cabbage and lettuce wraps, common in many Asian cuisines. The usual filling for the vegetable wraps includes ground beef, pork or chicken, and sometimes fish. The good news is that these wraps can be totally vegetarian, as it is with this recipe. The idea came to mind while I was visiting Manila in the Philippines, where my sister ordered some hopia appetizers — crusty pastries with different kinds of filling. The hopia she bought was totally vegetarian, consisting of crunchy turnips, tofu, carrots and chives. Taking this very concept, I thought of making some lettuce wraps with similar ingredients, adding ground peanuts to the mixture. I assure you that they can be an instant hit at parties or gatherings, and an interesting topic of conversation. Vegetarian or not, your guests will enjoy this recipe whether as an appetizer or entreé.
1 head of lettuce, leaves carefully separated
1 cup sliced smoked tofu (tiny squares)
1 cup sliced carrots (tiny squares)
1 cup sliced turnip (tiny squares)
1/2 cup ground, unsalted peanuts
1 cup sliced chives or green onions
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/3 cup vegetarian hoisin sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Rinse the lettuce leaves, pat them dry and set them aside. (If desired, refrigerate lettuce leaves until ready to serve). In a wok, heat olive oil in medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden brown. Add green onions, carrots, tofu and turnip and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and add in hoisin sauce, stirring the mixture for another two minutes. Remove from heat. Sprinkle ground peanuts over the mixture. On a serving plate or tray, set individual lettuce leaves. Spoon about 1/3 cup of the mixture into the center of each leaf. Serve with additional hoisin sauce on the side.