Lettuce Cups for the Rest of Us

Anything handheld is automatically perfect.

The Gameboy Color, tacos, Mini Babybel cheese wheels. Maybe it’s the symmetry, but it’s probably more about proximity. Or, rather, the intimacy.

Think about the crazy things that can happen when an external controller, or a fork and knife, no longer stands between you and the thing you’re consuming (be it Ms. Pac-Man or a Tex-Mex delight.) Things just get real and raw.

It used to be that handheld edibles were a novelty of carnivals and food trucks. But now, the rugged concepts of collapsible tents or corroded vans have followed in the footsteps of every normal, vanilla object before it: becoming sophisticated, urban and – for worse, definitely for worse – artisanal.

Now noshes served from the innards of a vehicle are ornate bites that demand full utensil sets, extra napkins and way too much patience. Agreed?

Fact: handheld food is much more appreciated when at home. Because when you’re a 23 year-old who’s idea of a perfect evening involves eating something warm and covered with molten cheese while wearing sweatpants (and not wearing a bra), you’ll take ease and luxury in any form it comes in.

Handheld food = less forks to clean = probably less plates in general = the sooner you’ll be in bed (by 9:30) watching a sitcom with “girl” in the title (betcha can’t name just one)

Let’s make it a commandment to never again subject ourselves to an hour over the kitchen sink/in flatware martyrdom as we scrub cheap plastic Target plates. Let’s eat handheld food that we make ourselves (exponentially less gluttonous than when bought from a plastic table or a Ford) and spend more time in the living room, dancing by ourselves to Rachael Yamagata songs, sweating out the day’s stresses.

Basically Handheld Turkey Lettuce Cups
Makes a boatload of lettuce cups. Idea inspired by P.F. Changs; sauce adapted from Dinner: A Love Story.

1-1.5 lb ground turkey
1 head lettuce (iceberg works, bibb and romaine would be sturdy enough too)
3/4 cup peanuts (for crunch…water chestnuts would have the same effect)
1/2 can bean sprouts

For the sauce:
1/2 tsp grated ginger (I use a ground paste, comes in a jar)
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 c soy sauce
1/3 c brown sugar
1 scallion, chopped
Lemon juice

While I prefer this as a no-frills weeknight meal, it’s so uncomplicated yet beautiful enough to make and impress dinner guests with.

Gracefully peel off whole leaves from your lettuce head. Try with all of your might to keep them intact, surface area is key to these cups’ portability. Wash the leaves and pat dry with paper towels.

In a pan with around 1 tbsp of hot olive oil, brown the turkey until cooked all the way through. Drain off any excess fat.

While the turkey is cooking, you (or a trusted kitchen wingman) should mix up all the miracle sauce IMGP4755ingredients, along with 1/2 cup of water. FYI, this is the dressing that will convert any tofu skeptic into a true believer.

Once the turkey is done cooking, pour the sauce over the meat with the pan over low/medium-ish heat. Add in the peanuts and sprouts, and let everything simmer and thicken for around 5 minutes.

Happy handheld eating/Rachael Yamagata dancing.


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