Last Tuesday marked the first time I went on a real grocery shopping trip in a month. Not exaggerating — a full month. How I nourished my body during that time is truly beyond my understanding. Fortunately for my bank account, my health and for Eating Berkeley, I finally got myself to the market last week. While I absolutely love to cook and shop for food, as I near the end of the semester (and unfortunately, the end of my college career), I don’t feel that I have the time to do any meal planning or real meal preparation every day. Realistically, I’m shooting to cook, eat and do the dishes in half an hour or less before I head back to the library. Rachel Ray really was onto something with “30-Minute Meals.” That said, with finals and the end-of-the-year-feels hitting hard and harder, respectively, maintaining a healthy diet and taking the time to practice a little self-care is more important than ever. Flavor and satisfaction don’t need to be compromised when speed and ease enter the equation. My financial situation and health don’t need to tank just because school/life is stressful.
My go-to weeknight meal for this exact predicament (and when I have the right ingredients) is turkey lettuce cups. Protein-rich, incredibly bright and light enough that I don’t feel like I need to lie down immediately afterward, this has to be one of the most foolproof recipes out there. Seriously, though, as long as you don’t undercook the ground turkey, and I believe that you won’t, you actually can’t go wrong. Though this “recipe” is constantly evolving depending on how much I’m avoiding homework and how many ingredients I’m trying to make use of before they go bad, the basic premise is lean, ground turkey breast, sauteed with a bunch of shit to make it taste less like lean, ground turkey breast, and butter lettuce leaves as “cups.” I have provided my current favorite iteration of this easy weeknight meal below, though I have been experimenting with a Taco Tuesday version and a vegan version using chopped up-cauliflower in place of the turkey. If you don’t have one of the ingredients I’ve listed, skip it! If you have some things in the fridge about to go bad, toss ‘em in!
Turkey Lettuce Cups
Yield: 2 servings (one for dinner tonight and tomorrow for lunch!)
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cook Time: 10-ish minutes
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 6 ounces lean ground turkey (chicken also works, but turkey tastes better)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil (or, if you are fancy, 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil)
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced (ginger paste works, too!)
- ¼ cup (but be generous) Trader Joe’s Soyaki Sauce (soy sauce works, too!)
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
- 2-ish tablespoons plum sauce
- Zest and juice of half of a lime
- ½ cup of literally any and all herbs you have sitting in the fridge (cilantro and mint are best)
- Optional: ¼ cup roasted cashew, chopped
- Optional: Sesame seeds or everything bagel seasoning to finish
- Heat oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat and add garlic, allowing to cook for about 2 minutes until goldy brown but NOT burnt. Add the turkey and allow to cook until no longer pink. Occasionally break up the ground meat using a wooden spoon as it is cooking; if you are mixing too much, the meat won’t brown properly. On a similar note, ensure that everything in the pan is in direct contact with the heat so that everything gets nice and crisp! Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Meanwhile, clean and dry the butter lettuce, setting aside to be used for wrap assembly later.
- Add ¾ of the bell pepper (setting aside the rest for later) and cook until the peppers begin to soften.
- Add scallion, ginger, Soyaki, Sriracha, plum sauce and lime. Cook until extra liquid has reduced down and the sauce has begun to caramelize. Add cashews and herbs, and mix.
- Scoop heaping amounts of the filling into the lettuce cups, like a taco.
- Add extra bell pepper, a few shakes of sesame seeds or bagel seasoning and a squeeze of fresh lime.
- Eat, and get back to the grind!