Kung Pao Chicken Lettuce Wraps.

A gluten-free copycat of a restaurant favorite that’s full of bold flavor!

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Even before I had to begin eating gluten-free, I always loved lettuce wraps. They’re light, crunchy, and (mostly) healthy. When I came across this recipe, I was hopeful it would be a successful Asian dish I could make at home. The verdict? Definitely a keeper.

I broke down and bought a new-to-me ingredient for this recipe: mirin. I did a lot of research trying to figure out a way to get around purchasing it, but none of the replacements were any more convenient. I used to shy away from cooking Asian dishes because of the long list of ingredients I didn’t have in my pantry. About a year and a half ago I broke down and finally bought some of those staples, and I’m so glad I did! Now I have a little corner in my pantry dedicated to those types of ingredients. They last quite a while, so if you’re wondering if you should invest in those specialty ingredients, do it!

Ok, back to this awesome recipe.

After the small pieces of chicken breast are coated in a mixture of corn starch and GF soy sauce, the go into a hot skillet until cooked. The cornstarch helps give the chicken an amazing texture when it cooks. The last step is to let the chicken and zucchini/garlic simmer in a perfectly sweet-and-spicy sauce, giving each bite tonsssss of flavor. We both thought it was pretty spicy (in a good way!), so be ready for it!

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I used gluten-free soy sauce but you can use regular if that’s not an issue for you. If you aren’t a fan of lettuce wraps, you can also serve this over rice! Thanks to the quick stir-fry method, this came together really quickly, making it a great weeknight meal. I hope you’ll try it!

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Kung Pao Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients:

  • 1lb chicken breasts, chopped very small
  • 3 Tablespoons GF tamari or soy sauce, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, divided
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons mirin
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Sriracha
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoons + 1 tsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped small
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Lettuce leaves (I used butter lettuce but iceburg or baby romaine work well too)

1). In a large bowl, combine the chopped chicken breast with 1 Tablespoon soy sauce and 1 Tablespoon cornstarch. Make sure each piece is evenly coated.

2). Add the other 2 Tablespoons of GF tamari/soy sauce, mirin, sriracha, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and sesame oil together in a bowl.

3). In a small separate bowl, stir the water into the remaining Tablespoon of cornstarch, THEN stir into the soy sauce mixture (from step 2). Set aside for later.

4). Heat 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan (or wok, if you have one) over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink. Remove from pan to a plate and set aside.

5). Add 1 tsp vegetable oil to the pan and add the zucchini. Stir fry until crisp tender. Add the minced garlic and stir fry for about 30 seconds or until fragrant.

6). Add the chicken back to the pan along with the sauce from step 2. Let it simmer for a few minutes until it reduces slightly.

Servings: 5. Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 177  Carbs: 11g Fat: 7g Protein: 20g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 1g Points+: 5 Recipe adapted from Iowa Girl Eats.

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Zucchini Lasagna (Gluten-Free!).

Thin slices of grilled zucchini take the place of traditional lasagna noodles, and are then nestled in a rich meat and cheese sauce. You won’t miss the pasta one bit!

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See that beautiful green peaking through the lasagna? That’s the zucchini. I realize many of you have got to be really skeptical at this point. Zucchini for lasagna noodles?! It sounds crazy, I know, and even I had my reservations about it. I’m pretty sure I looked at my husband at one point while assembling this and told him I had no idea if this was going to turn out well. Thankfully, it did. Not only did it turn out well, it was awesome!! He’s not a huge fan of zucchini and really loved this one too. With lots of meat and cheese, what’s not to love? Yum.

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For those of you who follow me on instagram (if you don’t, you should!), you may recall I recently had a tiiiiny kitchen incident earlier this week involving a knife and 3 of my fingers. A record, to be sure. This recipe was worth it, though. It just goes to show you everyone can have one of those days in the kitchen, and you need to be careful with sharp knives. Which, by the way, you’ll need a sharp knife or a mandoline to achieve these thin slices of zucchini you’ll use to replace the noodles. Just be careful and don’t do what I did. : )

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Once they’re thinly sliced (you’re going for about 1/8-1/4 inch slice), sprinkle some salt on ’em to draw out excess water, pat them dry, and grill them up on an indoor or outdoor grill. These slices are so thin that they’ll be ready within 1-2 minutes per side. My indoor grill took a little longer than that on some of my slightly thicker slices, but just pierce them with a fork to test if they’re done. They’ll look something like this:

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I had 3 small zucchini, and it ended up not being enough for the layers, so I did the above steps with 2 small yellow squash and added it in the middle layer, which worked out great. So, if your garden is exploding with one squash and not the other, you can certainly substitute yellow squash!

While all of that’s happening, you’ll brown your meat and make a yummy sauce. Then, in another bowl, you’ll mix together ricotta cheese with parmesan and egg. That’s what makes this sauce so creamy and rich tasting. Once everything is ready, start layering! Sauce goes in the bottom of the pan first, followed by zucchini, ricotta mixture, mozzarella cheese, and another layer of sauce. I was able to have 3 layers of zucchini total. The top layer is a little different in that you only add the remaining sauce and mozzarella, no ricotta. This is important because you now know you can use half the ricotta mixture on the first layer, and the second half on the second layer. Make sense? Then once it’s all beautifully assembled, cover it with foil and bake it for about 30 minutes.

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After 30-40 minutes, remove the foil and either let it bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown on top, or turn your broiler on high for a few minutes. This lasagna took a pretty long while to assemble and we were hungry, so I went with the broiler route. Just be sure to keep an eye on it!

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The portion sizes on mine worked out to be equivalent to about the width of 2 slices of zucchini. Pair it with a big salad and you’ve got yourself a really filling meal!

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Zucchini Lasagna (Gluten-Free!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb 96% lean beef (or ground turkey)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • salt and pepper
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 3-4 large zucchini OR yellow squash, sliced 1/8″-1/4″ thick (I used 3 small zucchini + 2 small yellow squash)
  • 15 oz part-skim ricotta
  • 16 oz part-skin mozzarella cheese, shredded (I did not use the whole bag but you can if you’d like!)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg

1). For the meat sauce: Heat a large pan and brown the meat, seasoning liberally with salt and pepper. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the tomatoes, basil, and more salt and pepper. Simmer on low, covered, for about 30 minutes while you prepare the zucchini.

2). Sprinkle a little bit of salt on the thinly sliced zucchini to draw out any excess moisture and after 10 minutes pat them dry with a paper towel. Heat your grill and grill the zucchini slices for 1-2 minutes per side, or slightly longer for any thicker slices you may have. To test if they’re done, pierce them with a fork. They should be easily pierced when cooked through.

3). Preheat the oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, and egg together well.

4). Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Begin layering. Spoon some of the sauce on the bottom of the pan, then top with zucchini slices. Add HALF the ricotta mixture on top of this layer, then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Add more sauce, zucchini, the second half of the ricotta mixture, and more mozzarella cheese. Top with more sauce, the last layer of zucchini, more sauce, and the last of the mozzarella cheese.

5). Cover with foil and bake for about 30-40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden-brown. Alternatively, you can turn the broiler on high to achieve the golden brown look quicker (just be sure to keep an eye on it!)

6). Allow the lasagna to rest about 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Servings: 8. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 345 Carbs: 16g Fat: 17g Protein: 36g Fiber: 2g Points+: 9
Recipe adapted from: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2009/02/zucchini-lasagna.html