Crunchy leaves packed with punchy flavour; these healthy wraps are great to whip up when you’re looking to cut-back on carbs
Words Helen Brown
Cut back this summer with these tasty lettuce wrap recipes. Each is jam-packed with big flavours and has a good source of healthy fat and protein to keep you full until dinner. With the satisfying crunch of crisp leaves, you really won’t miss the tortilla or bun. What’s more, they’re super quick to prepare and work well for a desk lunch. Enjoy!
ASIAN CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS
1 iceberg lettuce
450g chicken breast, minced
2 water chestnuts, finely chopped
2 tbsp groundnut oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 dried shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
2 spring onions, sliced
For the marinade
1½ tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tsp cornflour
sweet chilli dipping sauce to serve
STEP 1: Pull apart the lettuce leaves, rinse and dry. Mix the chicken with the water chestnuts and marinade ingredients and leave for 30 minutes.
STEP 2: Heat the groundnut oil in a wok and stir fry the garlic until soft, then add the chicken and marinade. Fry for 10 to 15 minutes until cooked through. Add the shiitake for the last 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
STEP 3: Add a little white pepper and stir through the spring onions. Spoon the mixture onto the lettuce leaves, fold the bottom and roll up. Serve with sweet chilli sauce on the side.
Recipe from olivemagazine.com
HEALTHY BEEF LETTUCE TACOS
450g beef mince
1 packet of taco seasoning, one available here
handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
STEP 1: In a pan, cook the beef until browned. Add the taco seasoning and water and simmer for 5 minutes
STEP 2: Add a tablespoon of taco meat to each lettuce leaf and finish with tomatoes cheese, sour cream and salsa
Recipe from thetaylor-house.com
VIETNAMESE BEEF & LETTUCE WRAP
For the marinade
2 rump steaks or flank steaks, around 200g each, trimmed of any fat
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chilli, sliced
2 sticks lemongrass, bruised and finely chopped
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp caster sugar
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1-1½ tsp toasted sesame oil, to taste
For the dipping sauce
50-75ml/2-2½fl oz rice vinegar, to taste
1 stick lemongrass, trimmed and very finely chopped
25g-50g/1-2oz caster sugar, to taste
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 lime, juice only
For the wraps
1 carrot, cut into fine julienne strips
50ml/2fl oz rice vinegar
1 red chilli, finely chopped
flavourless oil (such as groundnut or sunflower oil)
3 sprigs mint, leaves picked and chopped
½ small bunch coriander, leaves and stalks roughly chopped
2 heads Little Gem lettuce, leaves separated
lime wedges, to serve
STEP 1: For the marinade, put the steak into a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix until coated evenly. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least two hours, or overnight if possible.
STEP 2: When you’re ready to prepare the meal, add the dipping sauce ingredients to a small pan over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Taste and adjust the flavours as necessary – adding a little more sugar if it’s too sour, or more rice vinegar or lime juice if too sweet. Set aside.
STEP 3: For the wraps, mix the carrots, beansprouts and chilli in a bowl. Pour over the rice vinegar, mix well and set aside while you cook the steaks.
STEP 4: In a large heavy-based frying pan, heat a dash of oil. Shake off any excess marinade from the steaks and cook for 2-3 minutes on either side – depending on their thickness and how rare you like your steak. Remove and rest on a plate for five minutes.
STEP 5: Add the mint and coriander to the carrot mixture and mix to combine.
STEP 6: To serve, arrange the Little Gem leaves on a serving plate. Slice the rested steak, tipping any resting juices over the carrot mixture. Fill the lettuce leaves with spoonfuls of the carrot mixture. Top each leaf with a slice of steak and serve with the dipping sauce and lime wedges on the side.
Recipe from bbc.co.uk
PALEO TUNA AVOCADO LETTUCE WRAP
2 hard-boiled eggs, roughly mashed with a fork
1 tin of tuna, drained
½ ripe avocado, diced
Handful of sliced green olives
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp cumin
Generous pinch cayenne pepper
¼ tsp smoked paprika
Salt and black pepper to taste
¼ tsp garlic powder
Generous pinch white pepper
STEP 1: In a small mixing bowl, add all the ingredients except the lettuce leaves. Mix until well combined. Spoon mixture onto lettuce leaves and enjoy.
Recipe from thehealthyfoodie.com
VEGGIE CABBAGE WRAPS WITH GRILLED TOFU
1 extra large cabbage (can substitute for iceberg lettuce)
1 pepper, cut into matchsticks
2 large carrots, spiralised into noodles
2 medium cucumbers, spiralised into noodles
1 packet extra firm tofu
handful of coriander
170g crunchy peanut butter
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 ½ tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp honey
2 cloves crushed garlic
juice of 1 lime
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes- adjust to heat preference
STEP 1: Drain tofu, slice in half and press with cloth until dry, squeezing out as much moisture as possible. Grill for 5 minutes on each side or until crispy. Remove from heat and slice into strips.
STEP 2: To create the peanut dipping sauce combine peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, lime juice, honey and red pepper flakes. Mix well and, if necessary, add water to achieve desired consistency and additional salt to taste.
STEP 3: Rinse and dry cabbage leaves cutting off the majority of white stalk. Layer tofu, pepper, carrots, coriander and cucumber in cabbage leaves, roll up and enjoy.
Recipe from ahouseinthehills.com
MEXICAN QUINOA SALAD CUPS WITH CORIANDER LIME DRESSING
For the Salad Cups
2 heads small, lettuce (any variety that will form cups/wraps nicely)
1 tin unsalted black beans
1 large sweet potato, cubed
½ tsp each cumin, cinnamon and sea salt
255g dry white or red quinoa
For the Dressing
½ small ripe avocado
handful of chopped coriander
3-4 small limes, juiced
230ml extra virgin olive or grapeseed oil
¼ tsp each sea salt and cumin
1 tbsp sweetener of choice (such as cane sugar, honey or agave syrup)
water to thin
Topping options include cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole.
STEP 1: Preheat oven to 204 C and prep sweet potatoes. Toss in a drizzle of olive oil and ¼ tsp each of cumin, cinnamon and sea salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until tender and slightly golden brown. Meanwhile, rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and place in a small saucepan over medium-high heat to toast. Cook as per packet instructions until tender. Turn off heat and set aside.
STEP 2: In a separate saucepan, bring black beans to a simmer over medium heat and season with ¼ tsp each sea salt, cumin and cinnamon. If your black beans are already salted, omit additional salt. Once bubbly and warm, turn heat to simmer/low.
STEP 3: Prepare dressing by combining all ingredients except the water in a blender. Add water to thin and scrape down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more lime, salt, cumin or sweetener as desired. Transfer to serving dish. You will have leftovers, which store well in a covered container in the fridge for up to several days.
STEP 4: Rinse and dry lettuce and choose the pieces that are a good “cup” shape to fill with toppings. Arrange on a serving plate and top with quinoa, black beans and sweet potatoes. Serve with dressing and any additional desired toppings, such as cilantro, salsa, chips or sliced jalapeno.
Recipe from minimalistbaker.com
THAI MACKEREL LETTUCE WRAP
4 small mackerel fillets (about 125g per person)
200g straight to wok rice noodles or 75g dried
handful coriander leaves (with stalks still intact but roots removed)
handful fresh mint leaves
For the sauce:
3 small red chillies (a spicy variety like birds-eye)
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp lime juice
STEP 1: Finely chop the chilli and the garlic, or pound them in a mortar and pestle. Combine with all the other sauce ingredients. Mix well and taste. If it is too spicy for your taste add more sugar, water or lime juice.
STEP 2: Season the mackerel on both sides. Heat olive oil in a pan and fry the mackerel until it is gently browned on both sides, about 3-4 mins on each side, skin side first.
STEP 3: If your rice noodles are dried, cook according to packet instructions. If they are fresh, remove from the packet and separate any that have stuck together. Set aside. The noodles should be no warmer than lukewarm – you don’t want them burning your fingers or wilting the leaves.
STEP 4: When your fish is done, lay out all the components on a large plate or board. Give each guest a small plate and let them make their own wraps, starting with a lettuce leaf, then a small pile of noodles, then a piece of fish, a coriander sprig, a couple of mint leaves and finishing off with a drizzle of the sauce.
Recipe from jamieoliver.com