This is a great way to use loose-leaf lettuce. When you grow it, you don't have to harvest the whole head at once. You can harvest the outside leaves and keep the growing point intact, extending your harvest time.
The presentation of this dish can be very colorful if you grow several types of lettuce.
Make Ahead: The vegetables can be prepped and refrigerated in separate containers for 2 days in advance.
Yield: (or 8 salad-course servings)
- For the toppings
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into very thin sticks (julienne; about 2 cups)
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into julienne (about 1 1/4 cups)
- 1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into julienne (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 6 scallions, white and light-green parts, cut on the diagonal into julienne (at least 1/2 cup)
- 3 to 4 ounces bean sprouts (1 cup packed)
- 5 ounces snow peas (trimmed), cut on the diagonal into julienne (1 cup)
- 1/2 (4 ounces) daikon radish, cut into julienne (1 cup)
- Leaves from 8 to 10 stems cilantro, chopped (1 cup)
- For the filling
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-inch piece peeled ginger root, minced (1 tablespoon)
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons)
- 3 medium shallots, minced (about 1/3 cup)
- 1 pound lean boneless (uncooked) chicken, pork or turkey, minced
- 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon red curry paste
- Finely grated zest of 1 lime (2 to 3 teaspoons)
- Leaves from 3 small stems cilantro, finely chopped (3 tablespoons)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For the sauce
- 2 tablespoons creamy low-fat peanut butter
- Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime (1 tablespoon)
- 3 tablespoons low-fat coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2-inch piece peeled ginger root, minced (1 teaspoon)
- 1/4 teaspoon red curry paste
- For assembly
- 16 hand-size lettuce leaves, washed and dried
For the toppings: Place the individual ingredients in separate bowls for serving.
For the filling: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the ginger, garlic and shallots; cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, reducing the heat as needed to make sure the mixture does not burn.
Add the minced meat and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, until cooked through.
Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, curry paste and lime zest; cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring to combine.
Add the cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and cover loosely to keep warm.
For the sauce: Combine the peanut butter, lime juice, coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, ginger and curry paste in a liquid measuring cup; whisk to combine.
To assemble: For each serving, place a lettuce leaf on the plate. Top it with a tablespoon of the cooked filling. Drizzle some of the sauce over it, then add your vegetable toppings of choice, being careful not to overstuff the leaf or you won't be able to roll it. Roll up to form a lettuce taco; repeat with the remaining lettuce, filling and toppings. Serve immediately.
From recipes in "What's Cooking Thai," by Christine France (Thunder Bay Press, 2000); adapted by Cynthia Brown, assistant director at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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