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WRAP IT UP!

Fresh lettuce leaves.

Photo courtesy of Pezibear / pixabay

Cooking with Vegetable Wraps

From the Kitchen of Engrid Winslow

During summer no one wants to turn on the oven and it is easier to prepare a wrap than almost any meal.  Everyone loves a burrito, right? Well, let’s riff off that and give you even more ideas for fillings and wraps.

 

Veggie Leaves

Think outside the iceberg lettuce wraps and try using large spinach leaves, Bok Choy, Swiss Chard, and Kale, thinly sliced zucchini, Bibb lettuce or Romaine Lettuce or Savoy or other Cabbage.

 

Leftovers

You’ve got leftover roasted or grilled chicken?  Shrimp stir fry? Fried Rice? ½ a jar of roasted red peppers, noodles of any kind? You’re golden to just shred some carrots, slice some tomatoes and wrap in rice paper, tortillas or vegetable leaves for a satisfying, no-cook meal.

 

Crunch

Add a satisfying crunchy element such as toasted nuts, corn, coconut, shredded purple cabbage, sunflower, pumpkin or sesame seeds, finely sliced celery, sprouts and cucumbers.

 

Cheesey/Creamy

Add tofu or crumbles of tangy cheese such as feta, avocado, mayonnaise, sour cream or yogurt.  Other good mix-ins are cotija, fresh mozzarella, cream cheese or blue cheeses.

 

Make it sweet

For a refreshing dessert try a wrap with one or more of the following:  fresh fruit, jam, dried fruit, cream cheese, chocolate, whipped cream, yogurt, honey or vanilla pudding.

 

Add Acid

Sometimes a squeeze of lemon juice or lime juice can perk up the fillings in your wrap. Another easy addition would be pickled anything or make a quick pickle by stirring rice wine vinegar into thinly sliced onions (or another veggie of your choosing) and letting them mellow for 10-30 minutes.

 

Add Spice

Some filling will be even better with a dollop of salsa, sliced jalapenos or roasted chili peppers.

 

Here’s an easy marinade for chicken, shrimp, beef or tofu that can be grilled, stir-fried or roasted:

½ cup pineapple juice

½ cup lemon juice

2 T olive oil

2 tsp honey

Salt

Pepper

 

Don’t marinate shrimp for more than ½ hour or so or they will get mushy. Tofu, beef and chicken will hold up to a longer marinade.

Serve with coconut, shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers and other toppings so that everyone can personalize their wrap.

Radical Ratatouille

A plate of tomatoes and other vegetables used to make Ratatouille.

Photo courtesy of Dgraph88 / pixabay

 

Ratatouille Recipes

From the Kitchen of Engrid Winslow

Ratatouille screams to me of summer and there are dozens of ways to make it. The only real essentials are tomatoes, onion, eggplant and zucchini cooked down into a stew and seasoned with salt and pepper.  It is delicious as a vegetarian main dish and can be served hot, room temperature, or even cold. You can also top it with cheese, add chunks of chicken and serve it over rice, or roll it up in a lettuce leaves or a tortilla. It can be cooked in a crockpot, baked or stewed. Here is a “classic” preparation followed by a few variations for you to play with.  You can learn more about the history of this dish here.

 

Classic Ratatouille

Serves 5 to 6

3 TBL olive oil                                                             3 medium tomatoes, chopped or 14 oz. canned

2 medium onions, chopped                                        2 large crushed cloves of garlic

1 medium eggplant, cubed in 1” chunks                    1 medium green bell pepper, in 1” chunks

5-6 medium zucchini, sliced                                       1 medium red bell pepper, in 1” chunks

½ cup chopped fresh parsley                                      ¼ cup chopped fresh basil

½ tsp salt                                                                     2 TBL tomato paste

¼ tsp pepper                                                               1 cup shredded gruyere cheese (optional)

In a 4-5 Quart pot, heat olive oil and add garlic, eggplant, peppers and onions.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often until onions are crisp-tender (about 5 minutes). Stir in zucchini, tomatoes, parsley and basil.  Heat to boiling, then reduce to medium, cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove cover, season with salt and pepper and stir in tomato paste. Continue cooking, uncovered, for another 10 minutes. Serve as is or over hot cooked rice. Top with a sprinkling of cheese.

VARIATION #1

Make it Middle Eastern by omitting the basil and cheese and stirring in the following spices when you add the zucchini and tomatoes:

½ tsp ground cumin                ½ tsp turmeric                                    ¼ tsp coriander

VARIATION #2

Change up the vegetables in the classic recipe or just add more.  Some favorites are corn, peas and beans, or other summer squash such as patty pan.

VARIATION #3

Make it Italian: Melt a couple of anchovies into the oil along with the garlic and tomatoes.  This adds a layer of umami flavors that is quite good. Then add a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar just before serving.

VARIATION #4

Consider serving it with a different grain besides rice. Quinoa, farro, couscous and others are a delicious and very healthy twist.