Does it get any more ‘summer’ than lettuce wraps? It was love at first bite when I tasted my first lettuce wrap: in fact, it was the FIRST thing that I ever posted on the blog! Lettuce wraps are the PERFECT hot weather food and are such a fun way to feed a crowd.
Let’s face it, anything that your guests can assemble themselves is A-OK in my books, more time for visiting and less time in the kitchen!
I wanted to try something different and decided to go with an orange chicken version using Florida orange juice, but decided to use the BBQ to cook it instead of cooking it in a pan or deep fryer. Traditional orange chicken is deep fried and is packed with calories, while this version is light and tastes even more amazing than the fat-laden version!
If you don’t have a BBQ you can easily cook the chicken or tofu (which tastes equally incredible by the way…and these were the words of my non-vegetarian hubby) in a pan with some vegetable oil on medium-high heat.
Florida orange juice provides the base for this bright citrusy dish and works its magic by marrying the flavours of the sesame oil, ginger, garlic and the rest of the yummy ingredients that go into the marinade which ends up doubling as a sauce. Naturally sweet on its own, using Florida orange juice as the base allows you to cut back on the added sweetener in the recipe (I chose honey). Even better, orange juice is packed with potassium (for muscle and nerve function along with maintaining hydration which is important in the summer!), vitamin C (for healthy skin and bones) and folate (essential for metabolism and cell division). I love using Florida orange juice in smoothies or freezing it into popsicles for a quick healthy treat (try layering it with vanilla Greek yogurt for an orange creamsicle popsicle!), but it’s also perfect for cooking to brighten the flavours of a dish and add nutrients, like we did in this recipe!
Have all of your ingredients for assembling the wraps prepared in advance to make this an easy appetizer or light main dish to serve to guests with zero fuss. You can add some warm cooked sticky rice to the table if you want to add a bit more substance to the wraps, we loved it both ways! Be warned, if you decide to use the Thai peppers, they are HOT. I love heat and of course loved the way they looked, but if you aren’t a fan of a lot of spice go for the sweet red peppers. You can easily make these gluten-free by substituting the soy sauce for tamari.
- 2 tsp. grated orange zest*
- 2 c. Florida orange juice
- 2 tsp. sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
- ¼ c. soy sauce or tamari
- 2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger*
- 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 5 tbsp. honey
- 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs OR 4x 175g packages Extra Firm Tofu sliced into ½” thick slices
- 1 head butter lettuce, washed and leaves removed
- 2 green onions, diced
- ½ c. toasted sliced almonds
- ½ long English cucumber sliced
- 2-3 thai red chile peppers, finely sliced OR ½ sliced sweet red pepper*
- 3/4 c. fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- Sliced oranges (garnish)
- 2 c. cooked white sticky rice (optional)
*use a microplaner
**only use the red peppers if you LOVE spicy food, otherwise go for the sweet red peppers!
- Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a medium bowl and whisk together to combine.
- Place the chicken thighs or tofu pieces in a medium re-sealable bag.
- Remove 1 c. of the marinade from the bowl and pour it into the bag of chicken or tofu. Seal the bag, removing as much air as you can from the bag as you close it, massage the bag to ensure that all of the chicken or tofu is coated in the marinade, and place it in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight. Place the remaining marinade in a resealable container and refrigerate.
- Bring the chicken or tofu to room temperature by removing it from the fridge an hour prior to cooking, and heat the grill to the medium heat setting. Place the reserved marinade in a small saucepan and simmer it on medium heat until it is reduced by approximately ½ and has slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and set it aside.
- Cook the chicken or tofu on the grill (brush the tofu with extra vegetable or olive oil first before placing on the grill), flipping when one side is cooked and brushing lightly with a small amount of reserved marinade. Grill until the chicken is done: the chicken will take about 10-12 minutes in total and should reach an internal temperature of 165F if you’re using a thermometer, the tofu will take about 6-7 minutes in total.
- Remove the chicken or tofu from the grill and when it’s cool enough to touch, cut into bite sized pieces. Serve all of the wrap ingredients in bowls or on a platter with the lettuce leaves. To assemble, top each leaf with the chicken or tofu, green onions, almonds, peppers, cucumbers, cilantro (and the rice if using) and the extra reduced marinade as a sauce for drizzling on top of the assembled wraps. Garnish the plate with the orange slices. These are fun to let guests put together themselves!
This healthy post was sponsored by Florida Department of Citrus. All opinions are my own.