Meatless Monday – Asian Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce

 

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THIS IS SERIOUSLY GOOD! Low Carbs + High Protein + Spicy Peanut Sauce = #NeedWeSayMore  My family loved this meal! In spite of their lukewarm (at best) love for tofu, they dug in to these wraps and came back for more. Everyone was really polite though and tried not to be the ‘One Who Ate the Last of the Tofu’.  Yes, you heard that right.  My meat loving family was close to fighting over who gets thirds and do we have to leave any for Mom for lunch tomorrow.  The answer to that is always “Yes”.

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The tofu and waterchestnut combination is really flavorful, picking up the garlic and ginger flavors, with the soy adding a pleasant saltiness (you know, umami).  I know people always say that various foods taste like chicken, but in this case, I would say it’s true.  The beauty of tofu is that it is so bland on it’s own that it picks up flavors very easily.  I wasn’t trying to make it taste like chicken but it certainly doesn’t look or taste like tofu, and the texture is really great.  I could eat it on it’s own or over rice with a fork, but when wrapped in a fresh lettuce leaf and topped with veggies, jalapenos and peanut sauce – yum!  I also like setting everything up as a ‘bar’ so that people can design their own plate.

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So what’s the deal with water chestnuts?  They are a staple in many Chinese dishes, and I have always thought of them as filler or meat extender, but are they good for you? It turns out, yes.  Water Chestnuts have zero fat and cholesterol and, at 60 calories per cup, are low in calories and sodium but they provide a wealth of nutrients for such an unassuming vegetable. They contain essential vitamins like Vitamin B-6 which supports healthy brain and immune system function, and thiamin and riboflavin which help your body convert food into energy. They are also a good source of potassium, copper and manganese.  As a bonus, water chestnuts  are a nonstarchy vegetable that helps keep you feeling full longer.  So combining a protein, like tofu, with chopped waterchestnuts goes way beyond increasing the quantity of food. It adds a pleasant texture, increases the nutritional value AND helps keep your belly full and happy.  You may see water chestnuts showing up in more recipes… You’ve been warned.

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TIPS:  I love homemade dressings and sauces.  This is a good homemade peanut sauce which is also fairly easy to make, however, there are many good brands of peanut sauce available in stores if you are pressed for time or you just can’t be bothered to make your own.  Peanut lovers can always add chopped peanuts as an additional topping. Sriracha is another good topping for those that like extra spicy food.  Don’t skip the step of pressing the water out of the tofu.  If the tofu is wet, the garlic and ginger flavors won’t be absorbed.  If you are in a rush, you can squeeze the tofu in several thicknesses of papertowels to get the excess water out.

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ASIAN TOFU LETTUCE WRAPS

1 block extra firm tofu
1 8 oz can waterchestnuts, drained and chopped
2 green onions (scallions)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (or parsley), chopped
1 small cucumber
1 red bell pepper or carrot
1 head Bibb or red leaf lettuce
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
1 Tbsn sesame oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsn soy sauce (or gluten free liquid amino acids)
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste)

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  • Crumble tofu and spread it in a single layer on several layers of paper towels and cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 15 or 20 minutes, pressing down occasionally to squeeze out excess water.

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  • Separate whole lettuce leaves and rinse each leaf under cold water, pat with papertowels and let dry.

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  • Slice red peppers, cucumber and green onion into a thin julienne using a grater, mandolin or food processor (or with an old fashioned knife)
  • Heat a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add tofu crumbles, water chestnuts and garlic; sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add soy sauce and ginger and sauté a few minutes. Taste and add more, if needed.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  • To serve, fill a lettuce leaf with a scoop of tofu mixture and top with veggies, cilantro and green onions, as desired, and drizzle with spicy peanut sauce.
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SPICY PEANUT SAUCE

1 tsp olive oil
1 small shallot, minced (or 1/4 onion)
1/2  cup water
3 Tbsn creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp hoisin sauce (or more to taste)
1 tsp brown sugar (optional)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1 Tbsn lime juice
1-2 tsp Sriracha Saucs (optional)

  • Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add shallot, and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add water, peanut butter, hoisin sauce, sugar and red pepper flakes and stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook a minute or two. Taste and add more hoisin sauce, sugar or red pepper flakes, as desired. Remove from heat and let cool  for about 5 minutes.  Stir in lime juice and pour into a small serving bowl.

Asian Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 block extra firm tofu
1 8 oz can waterchestnuts, drained and chopped
2 green onions (scallions)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (or parsley), chopped
1 small cucumber
1 red bell pepper or carrot
1 head Bibb or red leaf lettuce
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
1 Tbsn sesame oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsn soy sauce (or gluten free liquid amino acids)
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste)

  • Crumble tofu and spread it in a single layer on several layers of paper towels and cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 20 minutes, pressing down occasionally.
  • Separate whole lettuce leaves and rinse each leaf under cold water, pat with papertowels and let dry.
  • Slice red peppers, cucumber and green onion into a thin julienne using a grater, mandolin or food processor (or with an old fashioned knife)
  • Heat a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add tofu crumbles and garlic; sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add soy sauce and ginger and sauté a few minutes. Taste and add more if needed. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • To serve, fill a lettuce leaf with a scoop of tofu mixture and top with veggies, cilantro and green onions, as desired, and drizzle with spicy peanut sauce.

SPICY PEANUT SAUCE

1 tsp olive oil
1 small shallot, minced (or 1/4 onion)
1/2  cup water
3 Tbsn creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp hoisin sauce (or more to taste)
1 tsp brown sugar (optional)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1 Tbsn lime juice
1-2 tsp Sriracha Sauce (optional)

  • Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add shallot, and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add water, peanut butter, hoisin sauce, sugar and red pepper flakes and stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook a minute or two. Taste and add more hoisin sauce, sugar or red pepper flakes, as desired. Remove from heat and let cool  for about 5 minutes.  Stir in lime juice and pour into a small serving bowl.

 

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