We’ve all grappled with hunger pangs and a growing desperation to find a quick meal on busy weeknights. Ideally, that meal would thrill the tastebuds, contain actual vegetables, and come to the table in a sprint. Here’s one to add to the list: savory seitan lettuce wraps.
Seitan is a pre-cooked, meaty-tasting plant protein with a well-deserved pedigree, and if you’ve got a box in the refrigerator, you’re minutes away from a tangy, crunchy filling for lettuce leaves that will certainly become a go-to recipe in your plant-based arsenal. This recipe is particularly perfect for you if you’re new to seitan: it soaks up the flavors of lime, chili, and soy, and sparkles in a crunchy lettuce cup.
The Best Way to Cook with Seitan
Of all the ways to cook with meaty, savory seitan, I find grinding it into bits that resemble cooked ground beef to be the most satisfyingly toothsome. Using the food processor to mince the vegetables along with the seitan saves prep time, too. Just dump the seitan straight out of the package into the food processor and pulse a few times, and you have cooked ground “meat.” The sauce-absorbing crumbles deliver that familiar chew, and take on seasonings like a chameleon.
Filling and picking up crunchy, flavor-packed lettuce wraps is also a fun way to switch up the dinner routine. Lettuce cups are time savers, too — just separate the leaves and put them out in a bowl for everyone to fill and eat. Spooning on toppings like cashews and sweet chili sauce adds even more crunch and sweet heat to each mouthful.
- Slice 2 large shallots and 2 garlic cloves, and halve and seed 1 large red Fresno chile or jalapeño pepper. Add to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and process until minced. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl.
- Cut 8 ounces seitan into chunks and peel and slice 1 large carrot. Add both to the food processor (no need to wash out the bowl) and pulse until minced; set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon avocado or canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the shallot mixture and stir to combine. Let cook until sizzling, about 1 minute, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the shallots are soft and golden-brown. Scrape the seitan mixture out of the food processor into the pan, add 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and increase the heat to medium. Cook until the seitan is browned, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, drain 1 can of sliced water chestnuts, then cut half the water chestnuts (about 3/4 cup) into slivers (save the remaining for another use).
- Add the water chestnut slivers, 1 tablespoon soy sauce or fish sauce, and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice to the pan. Stir just until water chestnuts are heated through and liquids are absorbed, then remove from the heat. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves and chopped tender stems.
- Serve the seitan mixture in 12 bibb lettuce leaves, passing roasted cashews and sweet chili sauce on the side.
Make ahead: The seitan filling can be made up to 4 days ahead of serving and reheated.
Storage: Store seitan filling, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Lettuce leaves can be washed, spun dry and stored in a zip top bag for up to 3 days.