I was raised in a home that always had a balanced dinner plate – protein, vegetable, starch and a salad. So when presented to create a meal with no starch but packed full of healthy, filling ingredients, it becomes a bit more challenging for me. Luckily for this particular dinner, I was provided with the idea of lettuce wraps and handed a package of ground white turkey. With a direction, I went on the mission to figure out how to make lettuce wraps… and how to complete the evening’s menu for a health-conscious man training for a triathlon. After reviewing several recipes, I created the one below for the lettuce wraps, and then paired it with a Ribboned Ginger Cucumber Salad and simple boiled snap peas. Note, like many dishes of this sort, the flavors really deepen the longer it sits, so feel free to make this in advance and reheat!
Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps
- 2 lbs Ground White Turkey
- Half an Eggplant, chopped small
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped small
- 1 Can Water Chestnuts, chopped small
- Half Red Onion, chopped small
- 4 Green Onions, chopped
- 1 Jalepeno
- Handful Bean Sprouts
- 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
- Fresh Ginger – 2 inch piece peeled & grated or this
- 1 Tbls Honey
- 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
- 1 Tbls Sesame Oil
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Cayenne Pepper
- Five Spice Powder
- Head Lettuce, whole leaves separated
- 1/4 cup Hoisin Sauce
- 1/4 cup Chinese Crunchies or Peanuts
Prep all of your vegetables by chopping the red onion, eggplant, red pepper, water chestnuts, green onion, and jalepeno (or spicier pepper if you like it hot!). Set the vegetables to the side.
In a large skillet, heat up olive oil over medium high heat. Add the small chopped red onions, allowing them to cook for about 5 minutes before adding the chopped red pepper, eggplant, water chestnuts, garlic and jalepeno – remember most of the heat is in the seeds, so adjust accordingly to your taste.
While stirring often, add the sesame oil and around half of the soy sauce. Cook until the vegetables start to get slightly soft, about 10 minutes – you want to keep them semi-crunchy.
In the same skillet, add the ground turkey, breaking it up and mixing it often. You want to ensure the turkey is cooked all the way through – there should be no pink meat when thoroughly cooked.
While the turkey is cooking, add the Five Spice Powder (found in the Asian section of your grocery store), honey, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, remaining soy sauce, half of the hoisin sauce and ginger. You can either use fresh ginger root, or look in your produce section for Gourmet Garden Fresh Ginger
. It is finely grated ginger in a tube that lasts up to 3 months. It has the same amazing flavor, without the effort of peeling and grating fresh ginger root.
When the turkey is cooked through, turn the heat down to low. Test the flavor and adjust your spices to your level of spiciness – remember that the flavors will intensify over time. Just before serving, add the green onions (reserving some for topping at the table) and the bean sprouts.
For serving, scoop the turkey into a large lettuce leaf and top with green onions, hoisin sauce, crunchies or peanuts. Wrap it all up and enjoy!