By Francesca Patterson
Along with strawberries, one of the most abundant harvests from our farm right now are the big, brilliant heads of romaine, green leaf, and red leaf lettuce. This recipe is going to be featuring my favorite kind of lettuce, romaine. I love this salad green because romaine is surprisingly one of the most nutritious and hearty to choose from. Full of nutrients like potassium, vitamins, and even melatonin! Most people would not expect it, but a fresh romaine salad for dinner might be the perfect thing to send you off for a restful sleep, just like tart cherries, milk, and other naturally melatonin-rich foods do. These lettuce wraps are an excellent way to use your crisp, fresh lettuce leaves that differs from your typical salad. Romaine lettuce works the best because its structure holds up even when filled with sauce and fixings. I used Norman’s locally sourced ground beef from Chapel Hill Farm for this recipe, but turkey or vegetarian crumbles would work very well in place of that. Paired with a simple peanut sauce, this dinner is tasty, easy, and filling for the whole family.
Ingredients for stir fry:
- 1 lb ground beef (or turkey or vegetarian crumbles)
- 1 head of romaine lettuce
- 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 3 spring onion (white and green parts sliced)
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 2-inch piece of ginger (chopped or grated)
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (or 1/2 small red chili pepper, chopped)
- 1 green bell pepper (diced)
- 1 tomato (chopped)
- 1/3 cup fresh mint (chopped)
- 1/3 cup dry roasted cashews or peanuts (chopped, for garnish)
- lime(s) (for garnish)
Ingredients for stir fry sauce:
- 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 tbsp honey or brown sugar
- 1 tbsp cornstarch (optional, works to thicken stir fry sauce)
Ingredients for peanut sauce:
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/4 cup water (add more to make the sauce thinner)
- 1-2 tbsp honey
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2-3 tbsp lime juice
- Combine all the ingredients for stir fry sauce and set aside.
- Combine all the ingredients for peanut sauce, adjust for consistency and flavor. Set in fridge until ready to eat.
- Preheat a large pan over medium and add your cooking oil. Begin by cooking your garlic, ginger, green bell pepper, spring onion, and red pepper flakes for about 1 minute or until they all just start to become fragrant.
- Next, add your ground beef and cook for about 5 minutes. Slowly add your stir fry sauce while stirring in to distribute evenly. Stir fry this all for about 3-5 minutes or until sauce has thickened slightly.
- Add chopped tomatoes. Cook for about 2 more minutes.
- Turn off heat and add chopped mint, folding in to distribute.
- Assemble wraps with a piece of romaine, a spoonful of filling, a sprinkle of chopped nuts, and a drizzle of peanut sauce. Garnish with limes for extra lime juice.