We don’t eat a lot of meat when we cook – really just because it’s cheaper to cook vegetarian and it’s still delicious, but the environmental reasons are a definite plus. As a result, my most used cookbooks are those heavy on the vegetables (you’ll notice how often I use Erin Gleeson’s The Forest Feast – my Mom just got her new party book and I’m very jealous). One such (gorgeous) cookbook is Bountiful by Todd Porter and Diane Cu, which isn’t vegetarian but draws the main recipe inspiration from fruits and vegetables, then adds in meat where it makes sense. We spent a week cooking out of it with great success (go buy it and make the Basil Pesto Farro Salad immediately), including making these Lettuce Wraps with Almond-Basil Chicken one weeknight as a quick, healthy meal.
It’s pretty much a one-pot (or pan) meal, and gets into stir-fry region which means substitutions are totally acceptable. The original version, for instance, includes bell pepper, but since the Boy hates bell pepper we subbed in carrots instead.
Essentially, you chop everything, throw it in a pan, and cook it, holding back basil and almonds for garnishes. You can spice it up or down, and I imagine it would be tasty over rice as well, though lettuce is definitely the healthier way to go.
It’s colorful, easy, and light, plus it gets all your protein, veggies, etc. into one meal. And there’s something fun about wraps for dinner – maybe it’s the interactive thing. (Though I needed a back-up fork – my wrap-making skills need some work!)
Lettuce Wraps with Almond-Basil Chicken
From Bountiful by Todd Porter and Diane Cu
This recipe, by the authors’ own admittance, is highly flexible – swap the protein, change the nuts, serve it over rice, or adjust the seasonings to taste. It also kept well (lettuce separate, obviously) as leftovers to take to work for lunch the next day.
Yield: 4 Servings
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or other cooking oil
1 small onion, minced
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 pound (455g) chicken cutlets, diced small
1 small red bell pepper, halved, seeded, and diced [we subbed 2 diced carrots in for this]
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons fish sauce or soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
½ teaspoon rice vinegar
1 head fresh lettuce leaves, broadleaf variety, for wrapping
½ cup (20g) chopped fresh basil
¼ cup (23g) roasted almonds, sliced
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft.
Add the chicken and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the bell pepper, honey, fish sauce, hoisin sauce,and rice vinegar. Continue cooking until the chicken is fully cooked, 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve the chicken in a shallow dish alongside a plate of the lettuce leaves. Fill the leaves with the chicken mixture, and top with a sprinkling of basil and almonds.