We often have a Friday evening gathering of family and friends. Usually it is spontaneous and I’ll pull out whatever we have in the fridge and put together a couple of plates of appetizers. I’m always trying to think of new ways to use the same ingredients without having to plan ahead or work too hard. Lettuce wraps… why didn’t I think of them sooner?
Last week I was inspired by the return of our favorite lettuce vendor, Tolt Gardens (firstname.lastname@example.org), to the University Farmers Market. I’ll have to say, Charlie loves Tolt lettuce more than anything else at the market. He usually buys more than we need because it all looks so good. Rather than fight his impulse, I decided to find more ways to use this delectable lettuce.
Inspired by Ivy Manning‘s new book, the Farm to Table cookbook, “lettuce bundles” presented a great solution. I made them fairly true to her recipe and they were a huge hit. Watching everyone dipping and wrapping, I realized you can use lettuce to wrap just about anything or just dip it in any sauce and it makes a fabulous local appetizer made from things on hand. Ivy’s recipe uses several non-local ingredients that you can add or not, depending on your own preferences.
1lb ground pork — Skagit River Ranch makes a great one.
Chopped green garlic — this is what I had on hand, you can use chopped garlic & green onions instead.
1T minced fresh ginger
11/2 t toasted sesame oil
2T soy sauce
3T chopped cilantro leaves — Stoney Plains Organic Farms has this.
2T finely chopped mint, fresh from the garden
Juice of 1 lime
1 head of lettuce — butter lettuce works well but don’t be afraid to try different varieties.
1T olive oil
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir-fry the green garlic and ginger for a couple of minutes. Add the pork and continue to cook just until it is no longer pink.
Add the sesame oil and soy sauce. Cook for a few more minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the cilantro, mint and lime juice. I served hot sauce on the side but it could also be added to the mixture along with the soy sauce and sesame oil.
Fresh, easy, crunchy & local……what could make a better appetizer?