rainbow chard wraps.

I was out for dinner with a friend last week at Gobo, one of my favorite vegan places in NYC. Their menu is a beautifully eclectic selection of Asian-inspired vegan dishes, which changes subtly with the seasons. It's also a great spot for gluten-free diners; we've taken a number of friends there who have all kinds of fun eating preferences and it's gone over well! In fact, Michael and I had our wedding rehearsal dinner there in 2012, and even amongst our most picky relatives, it was a hit! Who says dinner has to have an animal protein to be satisfying? ;) 

chard wrap filling on tray

On this most recent visit, I ended up ordering one of my staples there: the lettuce wraps. Not only are they a bit of a project (spooning, wrapping and carefully trying to eat each one is fun!), but I find that when I feel a little involved in my food, I slow down, I appreciate it more, I eat less, and I feel better. Plus, it drags out a dinner date, which is extra awesome when the conversation is good. :)

I had a weird moment when I overheard the women at the table next to us discussing what they would order. Clearly, they were checking out what Lauren and I had ordered, and one of them said, "Ugh. Lettuce wraps. I never understood those."

{Why this bothered me in a such a soul-crushing, you just insulted my child kind of way, I'm not sure. I think perhaps I retain some residual fear of being judged for what I'm eating from a decade ago. (Does this happen to you? Currently? Formerly?) In any case, I quickly decided to get over it because my lettuce wraps were really good. And I wasn't going to share with the catty lady anyways.} ;)

In fact, the wraps were so good, I was inspired to recreate them at home the next night. So, in case you're in the position where you, too, 'don't understand' lettuce wraps, allow me to introduce you. I think you'll be fast friends.

The premise: a taco or wrap-like dish, using lettuce or another leafy green instead of a taco shell, tortilla, or bread.
Who they're great for: everyone who likes tacos or wraps or sandwiches! This dish works more green stuff into your meal, reduces the amount of processed carbohydrates, is fun to eat, totally nourishing and can be customized to any taste. 
Bonus stuff: the filling is really versatile (you could eat it on its own if you wanted to), and these make great shareable meals. You are limited only by the number of leafy pieces you have, and even then, you're not really limited. :) They're also vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free, but could be adapted to include any of these if you or your dining mates are inclined that way. 

chard wraps filling raw

The filling for these little bundles of yumminess are pretty much just sauteed veggies. Chop everything up and have it handy; the process of adding it all happens pretty quickly, so the more prepared you can be, the better! I used a variety of veggies we happened to have on hand, but you could use whatever speaks to you: carrots, daikon, yellow/red/orange bell peppers, Yukon Gold potatoes, water chestnuts and green onions are other commonly used fillings. For sauteeing,  I used almond oil (a new addition to the kitchen) instead of my usual coconut or olive oil, but any medium-high heat stable oil, like sesame, will also do. Avoid canola, safflower and corn oils whenever possible: they're highly refined and don't offer much nutritional benefit. 

Not pictured here are the garlic and ginger, which were already sizzling away in the skillet.

chard wrap filling closeup int light 2

Sautee your veggies altogether, add a little homemade miso-tamari sauce, then transfer to a bowl and top with chopped cashews. The nuts provide some plant protein and a beautiful crunch. 

chard wrap filling closeup nat light

While we had Rainbow Chard in the crisper, any sturdy leafy green will absolutely work. Most often in restaurants, lettuce cups are served in (you guessed it) lettuce, often of the iceberg, Boston or Bibb variety. While I have nothing against lettuce, in the spirit of nutrient-dense foods (read: how many extra plant-based vitamins and minerals can we fit in!), using a darker green can be extra nourishing. Think: collard greens, romaine, or lightly steamed cabbage or kale [raw versions of these can be tough to digest -- watch out for bloating]. Chard is a great fit, too, because the leaves are so gigantic: they make a great little pocket for your filling.

chard wrap rolled

Transfer your filling and your washed, destemmed greens to a platter and serve. I added a little fresh Thai  basil to mine just before serving. Roll these up as you might roll a burrito or a fajita -- left side, right side, bottom, then roll. (Or, for a giggle, please watch this surprisingly dramatic video tutorial on how to roll a burrito like a pro. Please note that the video requires you to have a positive attitude, so do keep that in mind. ;) Food wrapped in other food is FUN!) :)

And voila! Lettuce wraps, no judgment, all delicious! :) 

You just made dinner! Keep the extra filling in the fridge for up to three days: it's great on salad or tossed with a whole grain (quinoa, brown rice, amaranth) as a quick leftover option for lunch the following day. 

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rainbow chard 'lettuce cups'
Serves 2
A meat-free version of the restaurant appetizer. These chard wraps are stuffed with sauteed root veggies and peppers, then topped with crunchy crushed cashews.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 tbsp almond oil (or other medium- high heat oil like coconut or sesame)
  2. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 2" fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely sliced
  4. 1 medium green pepper, seeded, cored and diced
  5. 1 medium white onion, diced
  6. 1 medium sweet potato, skin on, finely diced
  7. 1 1/2 cups coarsely shredded Brussels sprouts or cabbage
Sauce
  1. 1 tbsp tamari (gluten free soy sauce) combined with 1/2 tbsp miso paste
For serving
  1. 1 head of Rainbow chard (2 leaves per person)
  2. 3 tbsp coarsely crushed cashews
  3. a few leaves of fresh Thai basil, for serving *optional
Instructions
  1. 1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. 2. Add ginger and garlic and sautee ~1 minute until fragrant.
  3. 3. Add sweet potato and cook while stirring for 2-3 minutes. Sweet potato will soften slightly and brown on the sides.
  4. 4. Add Brussels sprouts and continue sauteeing until softened. Once all veggies are cooked through, stir in your miso-tamari sauce and remove pan from heat.
  5. 5. Transfer veggie mix to a bowl and top with cashews. Serve with your leafy green 'wraps'.
From The Ground Up Wellness http://fromthegroundupwellness.com/

 

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Posted in dinner, gluten-free recipes, health coaching info, homepage featured, lunch, recipes
2 comments on “rainbow chard wraps.
  1. Caitlin McNama says:

    Hi Amy,

    I love all of these recipes! We are just staring to get our community supported agriculture veggie box and I am very excited to try some more of the recipes you have posted with my fresh ingredients. I especially love them as I found out I have Celiac disease about a year ago and they give me great new ideas!

    Thanks again,
    Caitlin
    (Student council Williams)

    • amyheight says:

      Katie! Hello! Thank you so much for your note — I’m thrilled to hear from you, and so glad the recipes are helpful. Celiac’s is a tough diagnosis at first, but once you get the hang of gluten-freedom, it’s actually a really excellent way to eat! I hope you’re finding it a fun adventure. :) Definitely let me know if you have questions about anything. Best to you!!

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