I have two confessions to make:
1) For as long as the Meatless Mondays campaign has been around, I never once thought about jumping on the wagon.
2) I’m a party girl. If someone’s throwing one, you can bet I’ll be there.
It’s not that I’m opposed to eating meatless meals. Far from it, actually. In fact, some of my weekly meal plans do a really good job of disguising me as a vegetarian. Sometimes even a vegan. Why do I do this? It’s not that I have any ethical reasons against eating meat (and admittedly, I have room for improvement when it comes to choosing the quality of meat when I do purchase it.) It’s not that my meatless meals are always cheaper (good produce often comes at a premium!) It’s simply that I like vegetables. A lot. And experiencing all kinds of food. With the right balance of plant-based food, I’ve never felt slighted by not having a piece of formerly-living protein on my plate.
So why not save all my meatless meals to post on Mondays? Because I think any day makes a good veg day. And I’m lazy about scheduled blogging. I like to share what I want, when I want.
However. When I got an invitation from gardein™ to join their Gardein Party and go meatless for Mondays, I immediately dug out my most sparkly halter and spikiest stilettos and RSVP’d a definitive “Yes.” Ok, well, maybe not, since it was just me alone in my kitchen and cooking in four inch heals might qualify as some sort of safety hazard. But inside, I was ready to boogie.
Gardein produces a wide range of “fake meat” products. Everything from standard “chicken” nuggets and traditional veggie burgers to a southwestern stuffed “breast” to crispy mandarin orange “chicken.” In all my experience as a sometimes-wannabe-vegetarian, I had never actually purchased any meat-in-disguise. I suppose this is because I DO eat meat and therefore when I go meatless, it’s not about substituting for meat but rather for enjoying vegetables, legumes, and tofu simply for what they are. But with this opportunity upon me, and with the understanding that consuming even less meat can have a significant impact on not just my body but the environment we live in, I was happy to try something new. On top of that, Gardein products are conveniently packaged, easy to prepare, and lend themselves to endless quick-and-easy original recipes, perfect for our busy weeknights.
I highly suspected that I’d enjoy any “chicken” product more than a beef stand-in, but I decided to be daring and try their BBQ Skewers first. Even on a busy night, I make no excuses about having a fresh, wholesome, low-carb meal so I decided to transform the BBQ Skewers into Thai-Style “Beef” Lettuce Wraps. I had some leftover jicama in the fridge, so all I needed was a head of farm-fresh bibb lettuce, sweet carrots, crisp cucumber, and handfuls of mint and cilantro from my herb garden (meaning, pots on my deck.) And a batch of MamaPea’s Peanut Mmm Sauce (conveniently made from simple kitchen staples.) Everything is better smothered in peanut sauce. Meat and fake meat included. Don’t you think?
These Thai-Style “Beef” Lettuce Wraps certainly added some “mmm” to my Monday night as I relished in how quick and easy they were to prepare and even more delightful to eat. Light being key, because the weather outside is hot and heavy enough that I don’t need any of that in my kitchen. The skewers, though they do come in a sauce, are lightly flavored enough that I imagine they could fare well in a variety of dishes. You could chop them up and stuff them into taco shells with your favorite toppings, or smother them in onions and peppers and melted cheese for a “steak” and cheese sub. Or, just stick to pairing them with these crisp summer veggies and sweet and spicy peanut sauce. I’d never get tired of that!
Thai-Style “Beef” Lettuce Wraps
1 package gardein™ BBQ Skewers
1 head bibb lettuce, leaves separated, washed and patted dry
1 large carrot, grated
1 small cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup julienned jicama
2 tablespoons each chopped fresh cilantro and mint
Peanut Sauce (adapted slightly from Peas and Thankyou)
1/4 cup light coconut milk
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
1-2 teaspoons chili-garlic paste
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 clove of garlic
1 packet of Truvia, or other sweetener, to taste
Turn on grill to medium heat level.
While the grill heats, prepare the vegetables and arrange on a serving platter.
Make the peanut sauce by combining all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and processing until smooth.
Mist the grill grates with nonstick cooking spray. Remove the skewers from the package and place on the grill for about two minutes per side, until grill marks appear and the skewers are hot. Remove from heat. Slide the “meat” off of the skewers and separate into chunks.
To serve, place some of the vegetables on each piece of lettuce and top with one or two pieces of “beef”. Drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with mint and cilantro.
I received free gardein™ products to make this recipe. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.