Lemongrass, pineapple, and ginger add up to deliciously zingy Lettuce Wraps. Fast and versatile, they easily swing vegan or omnivore-friendly with only one simple variation in the recipe. Super quick to prepare, you can easily make both versions in under 30 minutes, making them perfect for lunch, dinner, or appetizers. You can make the filling and toppings ahead of schedule too.
TL;DR: Summary for Making Lettuce Wraps
About the Ingredients
These Lettuce Wraps are seasoned with onion, ginger, lemongrass, soy sauce, brown sugar, and pineapple juice.
Lemongrass may be an unfamiliar ingredient. You should be able to find it in the produce section of well-stocked grocery stores, or in an Asian grocery. Look for pale-green stalks with a citrusy scent. For the pineapple juice, I just use the juice from a can of pineapples, and the pineapple itself is one of the toppings.
Making Spicy Lettuce Wraps
If you want them spicy, you could also add in fresh red chilis, such as a Thai Bird’s eye chili, or even some red pepper flakes.
You can make these with a variety of different lettuces, but I’d recommend romaine, butter or iceberg if you’re in a pinch. Romaine and butter lettuce are both strong enough to hold the filling and provide a nice crunchy bite. Iceberg is good as well, and it has an awesome fresh crispiness factor, but its bulkiness means you’ll likely want to increase the filling to lettuce ratio.
TIP: Lettuce Leaf Size
When you’re choosing your lettuce, consider whether you’re making the Lettuce Wraps for a meal or for an appetizer. You’ll want larger leaves for a meal version, and smaller ones for an appetizer version. If you’re making it ahead, you’ll also want to choose sturdier leaves. Romaine is ideal for that.
About TVP aka TSP or Soy Meat or Soya Chunks
TVP, aka textured vegetable protein, is a meat substitute made from soy. It’s high in protein and is fat-free. You buy it dry and then rehydrate it with boiling water. This takes about 5 or 10 minutes and it will approximately double in volume when rehydrated. For this recipe, I used Bob’s Red Mill TVP (not a sponsored post). You may also find it labelled TSP (short for textured soy protein), or soy meat or soya chunks. IMHO none of these sound particularly appealing, but the flavour is quite innocuous. It’s makes a very good medium for adding seasoning and spices too, which is exactly what we’re doing with our Lettuce Wraps.
You should be able to find TVP/TSP in a well-stocked grocery, or in the bulk bins of natural food stores. It’s inexpensive. I paid about $4 Canadian for a 10 oz (283 gram) bag, which is about 11 servings.
Using Meat in Your Lettuce Wraps
For the non-vegan version of these lettuce wraps, I used lean ground pork. I haven’t tested it but I think it would work equally well with ground chicken or turkey. You may need to add a little additional fat to the frying pan, or alternatively add a little extra pineapple juice if you’re finding the mixture to be too dry.
Toppings for Lettuce Wraps
The toppings are simple: grated carrot, diced pineapple, and cilantro. I’ve also used spiralized raw butternut squash in place of the carrots, and that’s what you’ll see in the photos. Fresh pineapple would be delicious but canned will be fine too, and you can use the pineapple juice from the can when making the filling.
Making Lettuce Wraps: Under 30 Minutes
You can make these Lettuce Wraps in less than half an hour. If you’re using the TVP, get it rehydrating and set aside. Rehydrating it takes about 5 or 10 minutes. Meanwhile, throw the onions, ginger, and lemongrass in a small chopper or food processor. Next, you’ll need to measure out the soya sauce, pineapple juice, and brown sugar. Finally, organize your toppings, grate the carrot, chop the pineapple, and cilantro. Once you’ve done your prep, it’s just a matter of heating a little bit of oil in a frying pan, and adding the TVP or pork and the other ingredients and heating it through, or cooking it until no longer pink, in the case of the pork.
Eating Together Made Easy
These Lettuce Wraps are perfect for a group with diverse diets. The only difference between the vegan versus non-vegan version is TVP versus pork (or chicken or turkey). All of the other ingredients and the cooking process is essentially the same, so the preparation time won’t be much extra if you’re making both versions.
Lettuce Wraps: Vegan or with Pork
For Vegan Version
- 1 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP) (measure before rehydrating)
For Meat-eater version
- 1 pound lean ground pork (or you could sub with ground chicken or turkey)
For all versions
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 3 tablespoons onion finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons ginger finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemongrass finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons pineapple juice
- 3 tablespoons soya sauce
- red chili pepper flakes (optional, to taste)
- lettuce leaves (romaine, butter, iceberg)
- 1/2 cup grated carrot (and/or spiralized raw butternut squash)
- 1/2 cup diced pineapple
- 2 tablespoons cilantro
- If you are making the vegan version, rehydrate the textured vegetable protein (TVP) according to package directions. This usually takes about 5-10 minutes.
Make the filling
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan.
- Add in the onion, ginger, lemongrass and saute for 3-5 minutes until the onion is softened.
- If you are making the vegan version, add in the TVP and remaining ingredients and cook until heated through.
- If you are making the pork version, add in the pork and remaining ingredients and cook until the pork is no longer pink.
- Spoon the filling into lettuce leaves and top with your choice of grated carrot, and/or raw butternut squash, diced pineapple, and cilantro
About Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)See the post for detailed information. I used Bob’s Red Mill TVP (this is not a sponsored post). TVP is made from soybeans. It’s often used as a meat substitute in vegan and vegetarian foods.
Making the Filling AheadYou can make the filling ahead. You can either leave it on low heat on the stove for at least 30 minutes after cooking, or if you store it in the fridge and reheat it over low heat. If the mixture starts to get a little dry, add some pineapple juice, or even water.
StorageIf you want to make these as appetizers, you could make them an hour or two ahead of time and store them in the fridge. If you use romaine lettuce, it holds up quite well. You can keep the filling for a few days in the fridge. It’s good hot or cold.
Nutrition InformationNutritional information is an estimate only and is based on using textured vegetable protein (TVP) and not pork. It does not include additional toppings.
Other Mains for Mixed Crowds
- Squash and Cheddar Cheese Pasta (vegetarian or with chicken)
- Tom Kha Soup (vegan or with chicken)
- Black Beans and Polenta (vegan, vegetarian, or meat)
- 15 Minute Thai Chickpea Curry (vegan or with pork)
- Chipotle Cheese Stuffed Peppers (vegan, vegetarian, or meat)
- Roasted Veggies with Curry Cream (vegan, vegetarian, or meat)
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