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Healthy Asian Lettuce Wraps: A One-Bowl Dinner!

Excerpted from Build-a-Bowl © by Nicki Sizemore. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.
This is one of our weeknight staples and one of Ella’s most requested dinners. Naturally lean ground bison (or lean ground beef) is sautéed with onion, bell pepper, gingerroot, and garlic, then simmered in a quick, Asian-inspired sauce of tamari, fish sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, and chicken broth. The meat is completely irresistible, and you might find yourself sneaking spoonfuls straight from the skillet like my youngest daughter is apt to do (don’t worry, I won’t tell). It is served over rice, with sriracha, cilantro, and peanuts, and then everything is tucked into lettuce leaves and rolled up like tacos. It’s a messy, soul-satisfying type of meal that might just become a staple in your house, too.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Main Course
Keyword: Easy lettuce wraps, Healthy lettuce wraps, Lettuce wraps recipe
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

Sauce

  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 1-2 teaspoons fish sauce, as desired
  • 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar or honey
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Meat

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • ½ medium red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 pound ground bison or lean ground beef
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Sriracha or hot sauce
  • ½ teaspoon lime zest
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Toppings

  • Cooked rice or quinoa
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Chopped peanuts or cashews
  • 1 head Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves separated

Instructions

Make the sauce

  • Whisk together the chicken broth, tamari, fish sauce (I use 2 teaspoons of Red Boat brand, which is milder than others), sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch.

Make the meat

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, gingerroot, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  • Add the bison and season with salt and black pepper. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth mixture, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add a dash or two (or three or four . . . ) of sriracha. Remove the pot from the heat and add the lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro. Taste and season with additional sriracha and/or lime juice, if desired.
  • Spoon the grains into bowls. Top with the meat mixture. Sprinkle with cilantro and peanuts, and drizzle with sriracha, if you’d like. Serve with lettuce leaves for wrapping.

Notes

Do Ahead: The meat mixture can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently in a skillet, adding a splash or two of water if needed to moisten.
Tips:
  • You can use ground bison, lean ground beef or ground turkey in the wraps. If using turkey, I prefer dark meat since it’s juicier.
  • I serve the meat over brown rice (you could use white instead), which provides substance and helps the meal stretch further. I couldn’t live without my rice cooker, which I use to cook a slew of different grains (Build-a-Bowl features rice cooker instructions for several different whole grains—just be sure to buy a model with a brown rice setting). When cooking brown rice, I always make a double batch and freeze half for down the line (white rice can get mushy once defrosted, so I usually make that fresh).
  • Go for Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves for these wraps. They’re sweet and tender yet hold their shape fairly well.
  • Finally, don’t be afraid to get your hands messy! That’s half the fun.
  • Find a ton of other healthy one-bowl meals in my book, Build-a-Bowl!