Lettuce wraps are a quick-to-make and satisfying meal for people looking to save calories and carbs by substituting lettuce leaves for bread or tortillas. They're also versatile, since they can be built around any combination of meats and veggies you might have on hand.
This dish gets much of its flavor from Thai red curry paste, which stars the concentrated flavors of galangal, shallots, garlic and lemongrass. I added sliced jalapeno pepper and diced pineapple for a spicy-sweet heat, but you could easily leave them out. A dash of soy sauce adds umami; for extra crunch, you might want to throw in some chopped cashews or peanuts before serving.
The rice noodles can be made up to two hours ahead, but you'll want to toss them with a little sesame oil to keep them soft and pliant in the fridge until you use them. Don't like pork? Substitute ground chicken or turkey.
While you can use any type of green leafy lettuce as a wrap, romaine and Boston bibb lettuce offer the sturdiest cradle for the savory filling. You can find red curry paste and rice vermicelli in the Asian aisle of your grocery store.
Red curry pork and pineapple lettuce wraps
2 ounces rice vermicelli
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons red curry paste, or more to taste
1 pound ground pork
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 green onions, sliced thin on the diagonal
8-ounce can pineapple chunks, chopped
1 head green leaf lettuce or Bibb lettuce, leaves washed and separated
Place rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, rinse with cool water and drain again. Chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside while you prepare pork.
In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add curry paste and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add pork, red pepper, jalapeno pepper, garlic and soy sauce and cook, breaking meat up with a wooden spoon, until it is just beginning to brown, and vegetables are crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Taste, and season with a little more soy sauce if it's not salty enough.
Add green onions and chopped pineapple, and toss to combine. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.
Place some rice noodles in middle of each lettuce leaf. Using a slotted spoon, add pork and veggie mixture on top of noodles.
Adapted from "The Healthy Back Kitchen: Mover Easier; Cook Simpler" by America's Test Kitchen ($35).