July 19, 2011

Portland Porch Lettuce Wraps

by IsaChandra

Serves 4
Time: 30 minutes || Active time: 20 minutes

Portland Porch Lettuce Wraps
I could call these White Bean, Nectarine and Asparagus Lettuce Wraps With Edamame Pesto, but I’m afraid you’d fall asleep reading that!

Sometimes location just guides your hand in the kitchen. In the Northeast, I gravitate towards root vegetables, in California I sneak avocado into absolutely everything, and when I’m in the Pacific Northwest, a tiny fairy with stretched earlobes and full sleeves whispers in my ear, “Put some fruit in that.”

I’m like “Wha?! Fruit on my pizza? Fruit in my sausages? Fruit in my beans?” And the fairy is like “Yes, yes and yes!” And I’m like “What are you listening to?” (because she has an iPod shuffle on) and she’s like, “Nothing, you’ve never heard of it.” Then she brushes her black and white bangs out of her eyes.

And so, here I am, fresh from my Portland trip, back in high summer Omaha. I’ve discarded the hoodie for 100 degree weather and cars that honk at cyclists, and I’m putting fruit in everything. Even my beans!

But let me tell you, that little hipster foodie fairy knows what the hell she’s talking about. Fruit doesn’t have to be overpowering and in your face. You can coax the sweetness and flavor into your dish, so that it’s working with the savoriness, not against it. Here, nectarine adds tart, juicy bites, cooked gently enough to work its summery flavor into the sauciness of everything, but not quite so much that it loses its integrity. Instead of being a curiosity, the fruit becomes a natural component, that brings an added dimension to what otherwise would just be sauteed asparagus and white beans with some other stuff. Quite yummy in its own right maybe, but probably not something that the hipster foodie fairy would ever bother with.

Some edamame pesto is the perfect accompaniment, because it’s full of body without being too heavy and oily. You’ll have plenty left over for use on other stuff, so that’s a bonus. And lettuce wraps are a natural, again, because they are nice and light, and their fresh grassiness lets the flavors of everything else shine through. Not to mention that I don’t feel like preparing rice or pasta in this heat!

Some tips for working with stone fruit in particular: Make sure to cut them tiny enough that they cook quickly and meld into the saute without being obtrusive. Pieces should be no larger than 1/4 inch. Fruit that is ever so slightly under-ripe works best because it holds its shape and is never too sweet. Be careful not to overcook. You want them warmed through and juicy, but not mushy, so taste as you go!

For the edamame pesto:
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup packed basil leaves
Handful (1/4 cup or so) fresh cilantro
14 oz package shelled edamame, thawed
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Optional: 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

For the beans:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup thinly sliced shallots
4 cloves garlic, minced
Several dashes fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound of asparagus, sliced on a bias (3/4 inch pieces or so)
1 large nectarine, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces (leave the skin on)
1 1/2 cups great northern beans, rinsed and drained (a 16 oz can)

To serve:
1 head of red bibb lettuce, or similar

Prepare the pesto:
Place garlic and basil in food processor and pulse a few times to get it chopped up. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until relatively smooth, scraping down the sides with a spatula to make sure you get everything. Add a little more vegetable broth if it seems too stiff. Set aside until ready to use.

Now prepare the beans:
Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium heat (cast iron is preferred.) Saute the shallots in olive oil and a pinch of salt until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute about 30 seconds more. Season with black pepper and salt. Add asparagus and toss to coat. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add nectarine, and cook for about 5 more minutes. The asparagus should be a bright Kermit green, and the nectarine should release some of it’s juices.

Add beans and toss to coat. Cook until they are warmed through, about 2 more minutes. Taste for salt. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes or so, so that the flavors can meld.

In the meantime, prepare red lettuce leaves. Just peel off the good big ones, rinse and dry them.

To assemble wraps:

Place a few leaves on each plate, spoon in some beans and plop on a nice big scoop of the pesto.

  • July 19, 2011 at 9:22 pm: Heatherton

    This looks absolutely amazing! Perfect meal for the rising heat. Thanks!

  • July 19, 2011 at 9:30 pm: Renata

    How many would you say this serves?

    • July 19, 2011 at 9:46 pm: IsaChandra

      4! Says so right up under the title.

  • July 19, 2011 at 10:19 pm: Jen

    So… is “put some fruit in” the vegan Portlandia version of “put a bird on it!” ?

    • July 19, 2011 at 10:40 pm: IsaChandra


  • July 19, 2011 at 10:59 pm: Wendy

    Sitting here reading this blog posting/recipe and eating your Buffalo Tempeh and Cool Slaw from AFR . . . in a Lettuce Wrap . . . ’cause you inspired me to do that! Thank you.

  • July 19, 2011 at 11:57 pm: Laura @ Veggienista

    I like. I like full sleeved fairies, I’m currently in a raging love affair with edamame and I just got nectarines in my vegetable subscription, so this recipe was kind of MEANT for me (also, that fairy was probably listening to a song like ‘Let Us Rap’, if you catch my drift).

    Laura (Veggienista)

  • July 20, 2011 at 12:15 am: Sarah C

    I’m still unclear on why you moved to Omaha. I mean, good on ya’ (I live in the Dallas area, so I know about living in southern non-vegan-friendly places), but I’m sooooo curious what would have prompted such a move!

  • July 20, 2011 at 1:11 am: Sarah

    When in doubt…put some fruit on it!! It looks totally awesome and something that I would eat. I did actually put fruit on a pizza for the first time the other day. Not sure what took me so long.

  • July 20, 2011 at 2:01 am: Meister @ The Nervous Cook

    This sounds fantastic. Really great summer meal for those desperately hot days!

  • July 20, 2011 at 2:58 am: Cadry

    This looks so fresh and light. It sounds perfect for this thick, summer heatwave!

  • July 20, 2011 at 4:25 am: Christine

    Just made this and sat down to eat. Really good. Goes with my raspberry beer (Granville Island Brewing’s False Creek Raspberry Ale). A tasty summer recipe I will make again.

  • July 20, 2011 at 6:23 am: Emma

    Yummers! I have some edamame pesto in the freezer and fresh peaches are abundant here in Barcelona. This has to happen asap :) :)

  • July 20, 2011 at 10:56 am: Suburban Snow White

    Kermit green? Gotta love a Muppets reference.

  • July 20, 2011 at 11:01 pm: Frollein

    Oh Isa!!! Your little punk rock fairy definitely read my mind today. I was just wondering what to do with the huge amounts of lettuce and fruit I got from a friend the day before yesterday… and now I have the perfect solution! über-perfect that I happen to have some edamame in da house. the only thing I probably have to leave out is the asparagus as the season is definitely over in middle europe, but I’m sure some broccoli or green beans will do the job. Ha, this is SO COOL.

  • July 21, 2011 at 11:24 pm: Linda

    Isa, you have the most engaging and entertaining writing style. I would read this blog even if I was a carnivore. The consistently fabulous vegan recipes are icing. (And I am an icing > cake king of girl.)

  • July 22, 2011 at 1:09 pm: Claire

    This looks gorgeous!! May have to be done at the week end, have peaches instead of nectarines , and a freezer full of edamae beans

  • July 23, 2011 at 3:00 am: H.

    at first i thought they were called “porchland lettuce wraps”.

  • July 23, 2011 at 5:52 am: Carla @ Gluten Free Recipe Box

    Love it, love it, love it! It’s not only healthy, but very aesthetic! I recently made a lettuce bowl, Chinese style with miracle noodles (shirataki noodles). Came out great, but your has so much texture, color and flavor. Can’t wait to make one for myself! Thanks so much!

  • July 23, 2011 at 5:54 am: Carla @ Gluten Free Recipe Box

    …and it’s naturally gluten-free!

  • July 24, 2011 at 9:03 pm: Rebecca

    I just made this and it was delicious! My only problem was figuring out how to eat it! I couldn’t quite get the fillings to wrap up in the lettuce. Next time I might just try ripping up the lettuce, mixing it all together, and eating it as a salad. Regardless, it was really good.

    Also, I think the edamame pesto is going to be one of my new favorite foods. It has so many possibilities!

  • July 24, 2011 at 11:15 pm: Barbara Sindhu Quinn

    Yum yum. Will do! Am starting fruit n veggie n bean new diet from today. So this is perfect! Thank you :)
    Best regards. Barbara Sindhu Quinn :)

  • July 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm: Rebecca M.

    Was so quick and delicious, def. a keeper in the rotation. When I made it, however, it demanded (quite vociferously) hoummous. Will try the pesto with some pasta next!

  • July 27, 2011 at 3:54 pm: Fletcher M

    I made this last night and my boyfriend asked me to please make it all the time! The edamame pesto was also a huge hit on its own with all the dinner guests.

  • July 30, 2011 at 11:49 pm: Allison Dubya

    Just made this for dinner… It was awesome! You are a genius! :-)

  • August 5, 2011 at 10:35 pm: Rachtown

    Wow, this was awesome! Next time I’m going to throw some avocado on it, and by next time, I mean tomorrow when I make it again.

  • August 9, 2011 at 6:50 pm: dari

    I made these for company last night, and they were so impressed. This recipe was perfect, and incredibly delicious. I also made a side of cauliflower mashed potatoes. All in all, the meal was such a hit! that edamame pest is ridiculous. it certainly could be eaten alone.

  • August 10, 2011 at 2:38 am: roxyb

    A great summertime recipe. Made it with black beans instead of white beans and mango salsa instead of peaches because that’s what I had on hand. Made the edamame pesto with more cilantro and no basil also. It was great with my substitutions and I’m sure the way it’s written would have even been better. My only issue was that I used de-stemmed collard leaves as the shells and that was the one substitution that crossed the line. No one needs to floss with collards while they’re trying to eat a taco.

  • August 10, 2011 at 6:40 pm: Ry

    My 12 year old son and I made these and it was the perfect summer meal! There was so much creamy pesto that we used the left overs in a round 2 recipe of your yummy tempeh crumbles on pasta with the pesto. Best left overs ever! I’ll never use another pesto recipe again.

  • August 19, 2011 at 5:38 am: Zac

    I made these the other night. I couldn’t find shelled edamame in my midwestern supermarket, so I played around with the recipe and made broccoli pesto instead. It was delicious.

  • August 25, 2011 at 10:50 pm: Rose @ The BMK

    Um..this looks amazing. I’ve been stuck on your site for an hour and I’m now starving!

  • September 7, 2011 at 12:27 am: Ali

    Lacking a food processor, my pesto turned out a bit “rustic.” Didn’t matter. Still amazing, and super flavorful without being overly salty. I wrapped it all up in a sprouted tortilla instead of lettuce.

  • September 16, 2011 at 4:20 am: Michelle

    I made these for dinner and the pear frangipan tart for desert (gluten free option). It was so freaking delicous! Thank you!! (and Thank You so much for Veganomicon- my carnivorous partner had a fit when I told him I was going vegan for awhile, your recipes have convinced him that it’s going to be okay- he is actually telling people that vegan food tastes GOOD *gasp*)

  • January 7, 2012 at 4:18 am: Kim

    Holy Crap that pesto is good. You are a genius

  • May 2, 2012 at 9:29 pm: Stacey

    So, it is not necessary to cook the edamame?

  • July 31, 2012 at 1:43 am: Teresa

    Delicious, I used peas instead of edamame as well as asparagus (because I had a lot of peas on hand).

  • July 28, 2013 at 5:20 am: Chantel

    I live in Lincoln, NE… Much more “biker friendly”. Great recipe!

  • September 22, 2014 at 12:54 am: Margo

    Great quick Sunday night dinner. I added a few toasted slivered almonds for crunch.