Meatless Monday – Asian Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce (v,gf)

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THIS IS SERIOUSLY GOOD! Low Carb + High Protein + Spicy Peanut Sauce = #NeedWeSayMore  It’s the perfect balance of hot and cold, savory and sweet, crisp and tender.  The tofu, mushroom and water chestnut combination is really flavorful, picking up the garlic and ginger flavors, with the soy adding a pleasant saltiness. The beauty of tofu is that it is so bland on it’s own that it absorbs flavors very easily.  Spoon the yummy filling into crisp lettuce cups and top with chopped peanuts, slivered scallions, chopped red pepper and a drizzle of spicy peanut sauce for a delicious and healthy meal.

IMG_20190918_195507I originally blogged this recipe in 2016 and decided to circle back and test my own recipe.  I was also craving lettuce wraps.  Well the wraps were just as good as I remembered but I made a few changes. (I rarely make the same exact thing twice) and I thought the blog post itself could use an update. So here goes…  I added chopped criminy mushrooms to the tofu mixture which increased the depth of flavors.  I also chopped toppings smaller and fairly uniform in size which made it easier to eat.  AND I simplified the spicy peanut sauce, no pans, just a bowl and a spoon.  Sometimes less is more.  I like it even better and it’s easier…

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I like setting all the toppings up as a ‘bar’ for serving so that people can design their own plate. The photo is obviously from the ‘old’ post but you get the idea.

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The tofu mixture is really flavorful.  I could eat it on it’s own or over rice with a fork or chopsticks (which makes a great lunch), but when wrapped in a fresh, crispy lettuce leaf and topped with veggies, jalapenos and peanut sauce – yum!

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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 water chestnuts 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.

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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.  Or use a hoisin or soy ginger sauce that you already have in your pantry.  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. Drained tofu will soak in marinades like a sponge.  If you are in a rush, you can squeeze the tofu in several thicknesses of paper towels to get the excess water out.

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ASIAN TOFU LETTUCE WRAPS

1 block extra firm tofu
1 8 oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
6-8oz mushrooms, (criminy, shiitake or white)
1-2 Tbsn sesame oil
3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsn soy sauce (or gluten free liquid amino acids)
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste)
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 head Bibb,butter,iceberg or red leaf lettuce
2 green onions/scallions (optional)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (or parsley), (optional)
1 small cucumber (optional)
1 small red bell pepper or carrot(optional)
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)

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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. Change paper towels if they get too wet. (Do not skip this step – at least 5 minutes while you’re chopping veggies)img_20190918_185622-e1568929264747.jpg
  • Chop sliced water chestnuts and set aside.

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  • Wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel and chop. Set aside.

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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 green onion into a thin julienne using a grater, mandolin or food processor (or with an old fashioned knife)

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  • Chop all vegetable toppings, red pepper, cucumber, jalapeno and place in small bowls for serving

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  • Roughly chop peanuts if you are using

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  • Heat a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add tofu crumbles, water chestnuts, mushrooms and garlic; sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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  • Add soy sauce, ginger and red pepper flakes, if using. Sauté a few minutes. Taste and add more, if needed.  Turn off heat and set aside.

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  • 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

3 Tbsn creamy peanut butter
1+ tsp chili garlic or hoisin sauce
1 Tbsn brown sugar
1 Tbsn soy sauce or gluten free liquid aminos
1 Tbsn lime juice
1/4 cup warm water

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  • Combine all ingredients except for the water and stir with a whisk. Taste and add more chili garlic sauce, sugar or lime as desired.

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  • Add water one tablespoon at a time until the peanut sauce is just thin enough to drizzle.  If it gets too thin, stir in a little more peanut butter. Pour into a small serving bowl.  Makes about a half cup.

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Asian Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce

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

IMG_20190918_195507

1 block extra firm tofu
1 8 oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
6-8oz mushrooms, (criminy, shiitake or white)
1-2 Tbsn sesame oil
3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsn soy sauce (or gluten free liquid amino acids)
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste)
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 head Bibb,butter,iceberg or red leaf lettuce
2 green onions/scallions (optional)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (or parsley), (optional)
1 small cucumber (optional)
1 small red bell pepper or carrot(optional)
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)

  • 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.
  • Chop water chestnuts and set aside
  • Wipe mushrooms with a damp papertowel and chop, set aside
  • Separate whole lettuce leaves and rinse each leaf under cold water, pat with papertowels and let dry.
  • Chop veggies you are using for toppings (red pepper, cucumber etc) and put them in small serving bowls
  • Slice green onion into a thin julienne using a grater, mandolin or food processor (or with an old fashioned knife)
  • Roughly chop peanuts
  • Heat a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add tofu crumbles, water chestnuts, mushrooms and garlic; sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add soy sauce, ginger and red pepper flakes, if using, and sauté a few minutes. Taste and add more if needed. Turn off 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 SAUCEIMG_20190921_144950

3 Tbsn creamy peanut butter
1+ tsp chili garlic or hoisin sauce
1 Tbsn brown sugar
1 Tbsn soy sauce or gluten free liquid aminos
1 Tbsn lime juice
1/4 cup warm water

  • Combine all ingredients except for the water and stir with a whisk. Taste and add more chili garlic sauce, sugar or lime as desired.
  • Add water one tablespoon at a time until the peanut sauce is just thin enough to drizzle.  If it gets too thin, stir in a little more peanut butter.
  • Pour into a small serving bowl.  Makes about a half cup.

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

 20160226_124834

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.