Food & Entertaining - Garden to Table

Easy-to-make lettuce dishes

Kathleen Sloan-McIntosh

Lettuce is the star in these easy meal ideas

Thai salad rolls with sesame-ginger dipping sauce

Makes 16 rolls

While rice paper wrappers are customarily used to make this refreshing appetizer, as above, but our recipes uses young leaf lettuce for the wrapper, resulting in colourful, flavourful finger fare. Substitute chicken or salmon for the shrimp. Note: A little of the dipping sauce is used to dress the ingredients, so make it first.

For dipping sauce:
1    tsp. (5 mL) Asian chili sauce (or
¼ tsp./1 mL dried red-pepper flakes)
2    tsp. (10 mL) sesame oil
2    tbsp. (30 mL) rice wine or mirin
¼    cup (60 mL) orange juice
6    tbsp. (90 mL) soy sauce
1    tsp. (5 mL) freshly grated ginger
2    tsp. (10 mL) peanut butter (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

For rolls:
3    oz. (85 g) thin rice vermicelli noodles
20    pieces leaf lettuce (16 for the wrappers, the rest to be shredded
and added to filling)
1    carrot, peeled, halved, cut into matchstick pieces
1-2    green onions, trimmed, halved and cut into matchstick pieces
½    seedless cucumber, halved, cut into matchstick pieces
12    fresh sprigs coriander
12    fresh leaves each of basil and mint
16    shrimp, cooked, halved lengthwise

Soak rice noodles in cold water for 5 minutes. Drain, then cover with boiling water and let sit for 5 minutes. Drain, rinse well, drain again and pat dry.

Stack four lettuce leaves, roll them up and slice into thin strips using a chef's knife.

Top each whole lettuce leaf with a little of the shredded lettuce, a few noodles, pieces of carrot, green onion and cucumber, a bit of coriander, one basil leaf and one mint leaf, arranging in centre. Add two pieces of shrimp and drizzle with a little of the dressing.

Fold up bottom edge of each lettuce leaf and roll tightly to enclose ingredients. Then arrange on a serving platter seam side down. If not serving right away, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

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