As Summer Fades to Fall: Lamb Lettuce Wraps

As summer comes to yet another rapid close, I can’t help but wonder how in the world I’m going to survive without consuming some sort burger on the regular. Burgers are a quintessential staple of grilling season, where the summer nights are seemingly endless and enchanting. I can (somewhat) get away with this because I am much more active in general during the summer months, and thus I make a continuous effort to engulf and imbibe in copious amounts of food and drink that I might not otherwise. Conversely, when summer ends and I am exposed to the first hints of the crisp autumn season, both my palate and mindset shift completely and in turn, these strong and unmistakable burger cravings lessen.

I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to discussing my affinity for the taste of lamb. If I could eat lamb everyday, I most certainly would. Lamb, like many other red meats, contains plenty of protein and all eight essential amino acids. Lamb also possesses a large amount of absorbable iron and contains very little marbling (less fat in the meat). I generally eat considerably less beef once summer ends, save for the occasional burger or pasta dish. Lamb should be eaten year round, in my humble opinion.

These lamb lettuce wraps are REALLY easy to master and are equally satisfying in taste and satiation levels. The best thing about this recipe is that the prep work is probably the most time consuming element in the whole process. The first six ingredients of the recipe, which include: canola oil, onion, garlic, cinnamon, salt, and pepper are all fairly common household (or apartment) kitchen items, so your time in the grocery store will be abated. I use a different yogurt sauce (Replace the sour cream with Greek yogurt for a healthier alternative) to top these wraps, but I’ve made the one that pairs with this recipe and it works just as well. Again, the majority of the legwork is done prior to cooking the lamb and while conjuring up the tzatziki-esque sauce.

After I made this, I was pleasantly surprised with how satisfying the Boston lettuce leaves were, particularly in texture. For those that crave a certain “crunch”, Boston lettuce never fails to disappoint in that regard. The lamb tastes phenomenal, as it acquires aspects of the cinnamon, onion, garlic, salt and pepper during the initial sautéing step. Any yogurt sauce paired with lamb will generally turn out well, and I particularly liked garnishing the final product with torn mint leaves and the freshly toasted pine nuts. A word of caution: don’t overdo the canola oil, as the lamb mixture becomes unctuous if too much is mixed in prior to the sautéing.

It must also be said that I felt absolutely no guilt or remorse whatsoever as I not so surreptitiously approached the counter for round two. Because bread was omitted entirely, I felt the need for another wrap (and you will too). I came away from this with an even greater appreciation for the taste of lamb, as there was no bread to detract or soak up the rich flavors that blend so well together.

Lamb Lettuce Wraps
Recipe taken from Cooking Light
Serves 4

lamb lettuce wraps

2 tsps canola oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces lean ground lamb
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/4 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1/4 cup red pepper hummus (such as Tribe)
Boston lettuce leaves
2 tablespoons torn mint leaves
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted

1.) Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and next 5 ingredients (through lamb) to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until lamb is done.

2.) Combine parsley, tomato, and cucumber in a medium bowl. Stir in lamb mixture. Combine yogurt and hummus in a small bowl.

3.) Place about 1/4 cup lamb mixture in each lettuce leaf. Top each wrap with 1 tablespoon hummus mixture. Divide mint and pine nuts evenly among wraps.

4.) Bon Appétit!

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