Vegan Lettuce Wraps

P.F. Chang’s is one of my favorite restaurants and I love their vegetarian lettuce wraps (Ma Po Tofu is also awesome)!  However, I know when I go there that I’m consuming way more sodium and fat than my RDA.  The lettuce wraps have 2,390 mg sodium and 21 g fat!

I decided I wanted to make a healthier version at home that I could feel better about eating.  This also has lots more veggies, which you can feel free to add or omit according to what you have.  My wife and I love this recipe, which I’ve adapted from others I’ve found online, and it makes enough for us to both have dinner and then lunch the next day too.

What you’ll need for the sauce:

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon agave
2 teaspoons white miso paste
3 tablespoons Bragg’s liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon freshly ginger, peeled and grated

For the filling:

1 Tablespoon olive or grapeseed oil
12 oz  extra firm tofu
8 oz mushrooms, finely chopped
8-oz can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1/3 cup green onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely diced (or use the large grate side of a box grater)
pinch red pepper flakes, if desired

10-12 Large leaves from a head of romaine, green leaf lettuce, or (if you must) ice berg lettuce

Mix all of the sauce ingredients together and set aside.

Wrap the tofu in a clean kitchen towel and set a heavy pot or iron skillet on top for about 5 minutes or so.  You can leave it longer, while you chop up all the veggies.  You want to get as much liquid out of the tofu as you can.

Once you’ve got everything ready, heat a large wok or skillet over medium heat with the oil.  Break the tofu into chunks with your hands and then crumble each chunk into the pan (think tofu scramble).  Go ahead and add the onions and bell pepper too since they take longer to cook.  Cook this mixture, stirring occasionally and breaking up any larger chunks of tofu with your spatula, for about 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, water chestnuts, and carrots and cook another 5 minutes.

Finally, add the red pepper flakes (if using), the sauce mixture, and the green onions and heat through another 3 minutes or so.

Serve by filling each lettuce leaf with around 1/4 cup filling, depending on how big your lettuce is.  I typically just place the bowl of filling and a separate bowl with lettuce leaves in the middle of the table and we stuff and eat them one at a time.

Beefless Veggie Stew

It’s finally starting to get cold this Christmas season.  We had a terrible drought that lasted most of Autumn and the much-needed rain has brought the chilly weather in with it.  It’s cold and dark when I get home from work now, so I love meals like a bowl of hot soup that come together in no time!  With prep, dinner is ready in less than half an hour!

I cannot say enough positive things about the flavors that the Better Than Bullion brand brings to soups, stews, and gravies.  I use their “No Chicken Base” most of the time, but their “No Beef Base” has a deeper flavor, like beef broth, for recipes like this.  It is essential to getting that good beef-like flavor here.  It’s also great in gravy and in vegan French onion soup!

Makes 5 good, fill-you-up servings!

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 medium carrots, sliced
2 large portabella mushroom caps, cubed into ¾” inch pieces
2 pounds potatoes, diced into ¾” pieces
1 cup frozen green peas
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups water
2 tablespoons Better Than Bullion No-Beef Base
¼ cup tomato paste
black pepper, to taste
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

In a large soup pot, cook the onions, celery, and carrots over medium heat in a little olive oil for 3 minutes.  Next, add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add in the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add in the remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.

Using a ladle, spoon out some of the broth into a soup bowl and whisk in the flour.  Whisk that back into the bot and let simmer another 2-3 minutes until the soup has thickened up a little.  Now you can serve!