Holiday Wrapping: Lettuce Wraps

An old English adage says “good things come in small packages.” While the first thought to come to mind might be diamond earrings pillowed in a tiny box, I find this proverb exceptionally true when those “good things” are sesame-laced dollops of ground beef and when the packages are gently sweet, buttery lettuce leaves.

With the cookies, pies, hams, stuffings, cakes, rolls, potatoes, turkeys, sauces, and tarts (I could go on and on!) revving their engines for the holidays, I find it supremely satisfying to eat a dinner wrapped up in lettuce. No matter what goes inside, even if it’s beef (I used extra-lean!), you can’t help feeling healthy—partly because of the verdant brightness on your plate and partly because eating a ground beef lettuce wrap takes some doing! You have to actively eat these things, your elbows pointed out, trying to make steady hand movements from plate to jaw. You won’t make every bite, many bits of beef will fall, but every taste you do manage will be delectable—and if you’ve made some rice for the side, you can sop up all the stray tidbits later. There won’t be much talking at the table with this meal, as your concentration will be focus on this fragile, green pillow, but everyone can talk about how delicious it was later, as you rub your contented bellies.

I’m not one who likes to work for her dinner, but the effort that went into rolling up these delicious babies was well worth it. And even though I was stuffed afterwards (I won’t tell you how many I ate!), I still feel like I had a healthy dinner. And I put in some practice for all that present wrapping that’s soon to come!

Beef Lettuce Wraps

serves 2-4 (depending on how hungry you are)
time: very quick—30 minutes at the latest

1 head Bibb, Boston, or Butter lettuce
1 lb ground beef (lean)
1 tsp cooking oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T soy sauce (light)
1 T sesame oil (dark)
1/4 tsp asian chili sauce (such as Lan Chi)
1 tsp minced pickled ginger
1 bunch green onions, choppedMethod:

Rinse and dry lettuce. Arrange on plates or in a serving dish.

Heat cooking oil in skillet over med-high heat, add onion and cook 5 minutes, add beef, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili sauce and brown. Add ginger and green onions. Cook for about 5 minutes longer or until beef is done and green onions are tender.

Spoon beef mixture into lettuce wraps. Serve.

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