AskChefDonnaThere are so many heads of lettuce growing in our greenhouses. Stony Point Center farmer, Will Summers, told me that he and his team are harvesting a nice amount of head lettuce this week. The varieties coming from the garden are a type of romaine lettuce called "green towers" and a redhead lettuce called "new red fire." We refer to head lettuce as any variety of lettuce that is harvested in the form of a head (or bunch) as opposed to individual leaves such as baby greens and salad mix. The varieties grown at Stony Point Center vary throughout the season. Will and his team grow heads of green leaf, red leaf, romaine and Bibb, to name a few.

One of my favorite meals to serve at Stony Point Center this time of year when the head lettuce is in abundance is a "Lettuce Wrap Bar." I especially love to prepare this meal when we have several guest groups whose participants have a variety of dietary needs. Having a "Lettuce Wrap Bar" allows for a range of topping options, whether gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, meat lovers, or halal diet. I enjoy my lettuce wraps with both rice and beans. When I make them for lunch, I often skip the rice and beans and use sautéed tofu, which creates a lighter meal.

Creating a lettuce wrap buffet at home is also an excellent way to clean out your fridge. Sometimes I find I have a quarter of a cucumber, a handful of cherry tomatoes, one portion of leftover veggies, quinoa or chicken. A little of this and a little of that will make the lettuce bar absolutely delicious! Small bowls and an open-minded pallet, and you're on your way. A lettuce wrap buffet is among the most open-ended and creative meals there is. The following is a guideline giving you ideas about how you can structure your buffet. I do strongly recommend that you use your own tastes and the ingredients you have to "make it your dish!"

Make Your Own Lettuce Wrap Buffet

4-6 guests

Ingredients:
  • One head of lettuce (clean, large leaves placed in a pile on a plate
  • 4–8 bowls (or small piles) of veggies/proteins
  • 1–3 sauces
  • Extras/sides

Now the fun begins... Pick your favorites!

BOWLS (choose 4–8)LettuceWrapBar
  • sautéed tofu
  • cooked shredded or ground beef, turkey, chicken or fish
  • cooked quinoa
  • shredded cabbage
  • lentils
  • chopped tomatoes
  • shredded lettuce
  • green and red peppers
  • chopped onion
  • chopped or shredded cheese
  • cooked beans
  • corn
  • tuna salad or chicken salad
SAUCES (choose 1–3)
  • hot sauce
  • salsa
  • tzatziki
  • baba ghanoush
  • hummus
  • spicy mayo
  • honey mustard
  • salad dressing
  • Caesar dressing
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
EXTRAS/SIDES (choose your preference)
  • tortilla chips
  • rice
  • beans
  • chili
  • pita bread
  • veggie chips
"It’s your Dish!”

Choose a theme or variation for a fun celebration...

  • Mexican-themed
  • Asian-themed
  • Go Vegan!
  • Add corn taco shells and you have a taco bar
  • Birthday lettuce wrap bar: make all the guest of honor's favorite toppings and show that you know their tastes

If you have specific questions regarding the recipes and tips I share, or other questions about meals and ingredients, I invite you to reach out to me at askchefdonna@stonypointcenter.org. Let's start cooking!