Cooking with Mom: Lumpia Lettuce Wraps with Turkey & Veggies

Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away, so most of us have a pretty good idea of what we're going to cook on the big day. (Right??) We tend to focus on The Dinner, but we can't forget about what we're going to feed all the guests that arrive early! In my family, everyone loves to come over as soon as possible, especially to watch all of the football games. So, there needs to be a couple of dishes on the buffet table for everyone to munch on. This lettuce wrap recipe is perfect for gameday and as a light lunch! (No spoiled appetites!)

My mom and I came up with this recipe together, something that I'm extremely grateful for. A year ago, she was sick in the hospital, and the holiday was so far from our minds. I couldn't even begin to plan a big Thanksgiving dinner. Somehow, though, my sister and I were able to put one together at the very last minute. The food was great, and we were all happy to be home...but it was still rushed and a bit of a bittersweet night. This year, Mom is healthy and ready to enjoy the 2013 holiday on our terms!

Making lumpia filling with my mom and sitting around the table rolling it all up in wrappers...That's one of my favorite "party cooking" memories. Lumpia is such a classic Filipino dish. People hear "lumpia" and instantly think of the delicious, fried, golden brown rolls. However, this version is inspired by Lumpiang Sariwa, or fresh spring roll. The meat and vegetable filling is typically wrapped in lettuce and a thin, crepe-like wrapper. No deep frying. To make the dish even lighter, we turned it into a simple lettuce wrap by leaving out the crepe completely! This is also called Lumpiang Hubad, or naked spring roll.

To prepare the filling, we thinly sliced all of the vegetables. Our recipe also uses canned bamboo shoots in place of hearts of palm and garbanzo beans in place of potato. Depending on who's cooking, the meat can be anything from chicken to ground pork. We wanted to stay in line with the Thanksgiving and "light" theme, so my mom and I went with lean ground turkey this time around!

Once the ingredients are ready, it's only a matter of stir-frying it all together in a wok. Start with the garlic and onions, then brown the turkey.

Add the bamboo shoots, carrots, and green beans, and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.

Next, mix in the garbanzo beans and sliced fried tofu (which is optional, but also my mom's favorite). Season everything with salt and pepper.

The turkey and vegetables make a satisfying dish, without being too heavy, and the crisp refreshing romaine lettuce let's you feel good about what you're eating!

To finish it all off, spoon some of the sweet garlic sauce over the top and garnish with crushed roasted peanuts.

This is also an ideal leftovers recipe! You can use diced leftover turkey or ham, and you can use extra green beans or carrots that are still sitting in your vegetable drawer. (I always end up buying more than I need...) After an exhausting morning of Black Friday shopping, these lettuce wraps would be a perfect pick-me-up! Try a lighter twist on the classic lumpia this Thanksgiving! :)

Lumpia Lettuce Wraps

Print Recipe
1 tbsp Vegetable or Canola Oil
1/2 tbsp Minced Garlic
1/2 cup Diced Onions
1/2 lb Lean Ground Turkey
3/4 cup Julienned Carrots
3/4 cup Julienned Bamboo Shoots
3/4 cup Sliced Green Beans (cut diagonally)
3/4 cup Garbanzo Beans
1/2 cup Sliced Fried Firm Tofu (optional)
1 1/4 tsp Fine Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
2/3 cup White Granulated Sugar
1 1/3 cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 1/2 tbsp Cornstarch
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1 tbsp Minced Garlic
Crushed Roasted Peanuts, for garnish
Romaine Heart Leaves
  1. To prepare the filling, heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Cook garlic and onions until the onions are translucent, then add the ground turkey. Cook the mixture until the turkey has browned.
  2. Add the carrots, bamboo shoots, and green beans. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Next, add the garbanzo beans and tofu (if using). Stir-fry for 1 more minute. Finally, season the filling with salt and pepper.
  3. To prepare the sauce, melt the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once it has browned and caramelized, carefully pour in the chicken broth. Stir to dissolve any hardened sugar, then add the soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer. While waiting, dilute the cornstarch in 1/4 cup of additional broth or water. Add the cornstarch mixture to the simmering sauce. Cook over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens. Taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt & pepper if needed. (If the sauce still has a raw cornstarch/flour flavor, cook on low heat for 3-5 more minutes.) To finish, remove the saucepan from the heat, and stir in the minced garlic.
  4. Transfer the filling, sauce, and crushed peanuts to serving bowls. Serve with romaine lettuce.