Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

One of the things I have come to cherish most, living in my new town in North Carolina, is my weekly trip to the farmer's market.  Every Saturday, I manage to drag myself out of bed before noon to indulge in my favorite coffee (and a pastry that catches my eye) while I circle around the tiny market to find fresh, local ingredients for the week.  One of my favorite vendors, Heeks Farm, has the most beautiful greens- kale of every variety, fresh spinach by the pound, bok choy, collards...the works!  The farmer is amazing and his goods always come with a tip or recipe suggestion.  This week my eyes were drawn to greens I had never seen before- Brussels Greens (the leaves from brussels sprout plants?! Yes.) My friendly farmer's recipe suggestion? "Steam them and use them for chicken lettuce wraps."  Done and done. 

What makes this bite better?
These wraps are a great way to introduce greens if you have never tried them before- brussels greens, kale etc.  Substituting a healthy green for a processed carbohydrate not only increases vegetable intake but also provides vitamins and minerals that are missing in processed wraps.  If you are using greens that need to be cooked, steaming is a great way to maintain water-soluble vitamins.  

Sides:  Thai peanut dressing, spicy cucumber salad and sesame soy sauce.

1 pound lean ground chicken
1 bunch brussels greens
1/2 pound of mushrooms
1 can water chestnuts
1 carrot
1 cucumber
Sesame oil
Low-sodium soy sauce
Spicy mustard
Ginger (optional)

In a large pot, bring 1-2 inches of water to a boil.  Place a steaming basket in the pot.  Remove excess stems of the greens and steam 4-5 pieces at a time for 3-4 minutes.  

In a skillet, drizzle olive oil and approximately 2T minced garlic.  Add mushrooms, cleaned and quartered.  Allow the mushrooms to cook down and brown slightly.  Add the chicken.  Sprinkle a small amount of ginger if desired.

In a separate bowl, mix one part sesame oil with one part soy sauce.  Add spicy mustard to your flavor and spice preference.  Add half of the mixture to the chicken and conserve the other half for serving the wraps. Add the water chestnuts and saut√© until chicken is fully cooked and flavors are blended.  Salt and pepper to taste.  

Serve wraps with a spicy cucumber salad, thai peanut sauce and the remaining sesame soy.  Enjoy :) 

-If brussels greens are not available, any type of lettuce or leafy green could work. Leafy greens like kale, collards and cabbage should be steamed. 
-I bought the thai peanut sauce already made.  Make sure to check the label to avoid buying a sauce with hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup or lots of sugar. 

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