Lettuce wraps are amazing – they’re like tacos but healthier and fresher and you don’t feel so bad about eating 14 of them at once…

I actually got the inspiration for this recipe by flipping through Sam Turnbull’s new cookbook. I thought it would be fun to remix her Oh Mommy Umami Lettuce Wraps. It you don’t know Sam from her blog, It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken, you might remember her from when we partnered on the Vegan Mystery Box Challenge a few Christmases ago. Her book, Fuss-Free Vegan has 101 ridiculous vegan comfort food recipes like BBQ cauliflower steaks, puff pastry wrapped lentil loaf, 24 Karat Carrot Cake and approximately 98 other things. You should pick it up on Amazon or your local bookstore if it still exists.

Her lettuce wraps are an asian-inspired mixture of lentils and walnuts with sesame oil and lots of other wonderful things. But since I’m physically incapable of actually following a recipe as written (how do you think I got this job?), I added a few extra things like riced cauliflower and chili powder to give it a kind of Asian-fusion vibe with the balance sesame/soy on one side and taco seasonings on the other. Spoon them into some romaine leaves and they are a super delicious meal that only takes about 15-20 minutes to make.

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups riced cauliflower
  • 2 cups cooked lentils
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 3+ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2-3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoons chili powder blend
  • 1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 hearts of romaine
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Step One

The great thing about this recipe is that you can use a food processor to basically do all the prep. If you’re starting out with a head of cauliflower (you can also buy it pre-riced at Trader Joes), first pulse that by itself in the food processor until it’s broken into little bits about the size of grains of rice. Transfer 2 cups of this into a large skillet over medium heat to give it a head start on reducing. Also add 2 cups of cooked and drained lentils.

Step Two

Back in the food processor, add in the walnuts, onion (chop it into a few smaller pieces first), garlic, and ginger and pulse repeatedly until you have uniform pieces about the size of the cauliflower rice. Transfer this mixture to the skillet as well.

Step Three

Add all the seasonings! Drizzle in a bunch of soy sauce, some rice vinegar, a small drizzle of maple syrup, some toasted sesame oil, chili powder, and smoked paprika. Stir to mix thoroughly and then allow to cook for at least 15 minutes over medium heat.

Step Four

As the cauliflower cooks it will reduce in size and become less and less bitter. The flavors will start to meld, but you should also trust your tastebuds. Dump in as much spices as you need to get the flavors just right. More soy, maple, sesame, chili, and smoked paprika will likely be needed before it’s finished.

Step Five

Finally, to serve, break off the romaine leaves (the middle-layer ones work best), rinse/dry, and stuff them with the filling. Garnish with green onions, shredded carrots, and some sesame seeds.

Note: The filling makes excellent leftovers for 1-2 days if stored in the fridge in a sealed container.