Thursday, January 3, 2013

Ground Lamb Lettuce Wraps

Happy New Year, blogloves!

I hope everyone had a great holiday season. I spent an whole week home in NY and it was a ton of fun. If I could place a theme on the 2012 holiday season, it would be generosity. I'm so lucky to have great family and friends!

Yesterday marked my first day back to work in quite a few days (and my first day in 2013!)...and if i may. Someone needs to warn us young professionals just how hard it is to get back in a routine after being away for a week-plus. Alarm clocks. E-mails. Public Transportation?! Yikes!

I hope to get back on a regular blogging schedule too, once my body re-adjusts to the 9 to 5 grind.

For now, I wanted to share this simple and light recipe I made for dinner last night. It is packed full of flavor, with crunchy veggies and tangy feta to bring it all together.

DISCLAIMER: My pictures here are very sporadic. I was experimenting with my new camera (thanks Mom!!!) and, well, just go with it. Now that I have an idea of what setting works the best, I can be more focused on logically photographing the food.

Ok, back to dinner.

Do you like lamb? I thought I hated it, but after trying it out a few times while out to dinner, I realized I was so wrong. It is actually DELICIOUS. I am still a little timid when it comes to big pieces of the meat, but at Whole Foods I was able to find ground lamb. What a perfect transition - not too intimidating, yet very versatile.

Last night, I made Ground Lamb Lettuce Wraps, inspired by a recipe I saw in Cooking Light magazine this past summer. Lamb begs for meditteranean flavors, and I oblidged.

This setting is way too yellow!

Let's start with toppings -- chopped cucumber and tomato are mixed with fresh parsley, mint, and feta cheese. Nothing wrong there.

Next, since every good wrap should have a condiment, I mixed together equal amounts of plain non-fat greek yogurt and hummus. I had a spinach and artichoke hummus, and boy was it good.

Now all we have to do is cook the meat and build our own wraps. Super simple, but the whole dish feels very sophisticated.

1 medium onion, diced and sauteed with a little bit of EVOO, salt, and brown sugar. We want to get a slight caramelization on these bad boys.

Toss in the lamb, break it up, and cook until browned.

Wilt in 2 cups of chopped fresh spinach. Then the kicker -- 2 whole tablespoons of ground cinnamon mixed in.

For lettuce wraps, I highly recommend a head of boston lettuce. These leafs have a great bowl shape and have a nice, fresh flavor. (P.S. for the carb lovers in your life, like my boyfriend, you can get pita bread, warm it up, and serve everything on top of that). To make your wraps, start by spreading the yogurt hummus on the lettuce. Top with a generous amount of the ground lamb. Sprinkle the tomato cucumber salad on top of that!

Oh, and how could I forget...the crunchy element. Toasted pine nuts! Totally!

This is a great low-carb meal and is actually super fun if you are entertaining. I made a similar dish for some friends a few months ago, and it's totally worth it to let everyone get involved and make their own meal the way they like.

Meghan, Ryan, and Cory enjoying lettuce wraps and grilled vegetables

Here's what you need for Ground Lamb Lettuce Wraps:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 pound ground lamb (found at Whole Foods)
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cucumber, diced
1 tomato, seeded and diced
1/3 cup feta cheese (plus more if you want to add some to each individual wrap)
5 fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt
1/2 cup hummus (plain or flavored)
1 head of Boston Lettuce, leafs removed (use largest leafs for wraps)
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
Salt and cracked black pepper
Optional: Pita Bread, serve wraps on top or alongside warmed pita

Here's what you do:

In a large sautee pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and stir to coat. Season with salt and cook until transluscent, about 2 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar and cook until slightly browned, about 5 minutes more.

Add the lamb to the pan. Break up the meat and cook until brown and crumbly.

Wilt in the chopped spinach and stir in the garlic; season well with salt and lots of cracked black pepper.

Turn heat to low and stir in the cinnamon. When all the meat is evenly coated in the cinnamon, it is ready to serve. Allow to cool slightly before building the wraps.

To prepare the tomato cucumber salad, toss together the cucumber, tomatoes, feta cheese, mint and parsely in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

In another bowl, stir together the yogurt and hummus until mixed thoroughly.

Toast pine nuts at 350 degrees on a sheet pan for no more than 5 minutes. Keep an eye on these, as they will burn quickly.

Finally, build your wraps. Start with a lettuce leaf, spread on the yogurt hummus mixture, add a couple of spoonfuls of the meat mixture and a spoonful of the salad, and sprinkle toasted pine nuts on top.

Although it seems like there are a lot of ingredients, the meal comes together in no time at all. The combination of cinnamon, lamb, mint, and feta with crunchy fresh veggies keep these wraps interesting and will have you coming back for seconds...thirds...and probably fourths!

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