Citrus lettuce wraps

Thanks to the birth of our great nation, I don't have to go to work today, which means time to cook! It's pretty hot out, so I thought lettuce wraps would make a nice, fresh lunch.

Lettuce wraps are super quick to make, once you have all of your ingredients ready. And you can pretty much add whatever you'd like. It's a great way to use up vegetables and proteins sitting in your refrigerator. The following recipe generously serves 2 as a meal, or more people if you're using it as an appetizer.

Crispy noodles
1 handful of rice noodles, broken up a bit
2 tbs. canola oil

You want the thin kind of rice noodles that look a little crinkly. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over high heat. Once the oil is hot, drop in a small portion of the noodles. They should immediately bubble up and expand, and become opaque. Immediately remove from the oil and drain on a paper towel (chopsticks help). Repeat until all the noodles are fried up.

The noodles are optional, or course. They don't really have much flavor but add a nice texture, and hey, they're fun! If you don't have noodles, leave the nuts out of the filling below and toast them instead to sprinkle on top of your wraps.

1 - 7oz package of tofu (I used fried, baked tofu in teriyaki or 5-spice would work well, too.)
1 - 8oz can water chestnuts, drained
1 ear of corn (about 1 c.)
3/4 c. green beans
1/3 c. sliced almonds (or slivered, or chopped cashews, or whatever)
1/2 tsp. grated ginger
zest of 1 small orange
2 tsp. chopped cilantro

2 tbs. hoisin sauce
2 1/2 tbs. soy sauce
1/2 tbs. mirin
1/2 tbs. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. sriracha (or more/less to taste)
2 tbs. water

1 lime, wedged

Chop the tofu, chestnuts, and beans to about 1/4" pieces. Small pieces make for nice eating and quick cooking. I like to undercook the vegetables so they stay nice and crisp. In a small bowl, mix the hoisin, soy, mirin, agave, and sriracha.

Transfer the leftover oil to a large skillet (or just do the whole process in a wok) and heat over med-high heat. If you're using a wok, just leave it on high and shorten the cooking times. Add the tofu, ginger, and zest, and fry for a couple minutes until the tofu starts to brown. Next add the green beans and water chestnuts, and stir for about 2 more minutes. (I found some really great sweet, white corn, that was delicious just straight off the cobb, so I added it after the sauce, to preserve the freshness. If you're using frozen or sub-par corn, you can add it earlier.)

Pour the sauce mixture over the filling and stir well. Add the 2 tbs. of water to the sauce prep bowl and stir to get all of those sticky bits of goodness, then pour over the filling as well. Let the filling cook for a few more minutes, just until the sugars begin to caramelize. Turn off the heat, then toss in the corn and cilantro.

Spoon into a serving dish and garnish with lime wedges.

To serve: Family-style works best, with a dish for the noodles and another for lettuce leaves. Rinse the leaves before you start cooking so they have time to drain. Pat them with a towel if they're still wet. I splurged on some butter lettuce today, since they make such perfect cups and have a nice flavor, but feel free to use iceberg or red/green leaf. Serve the filling with a big spoon so everyone can help themselves.

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