Sure, a round of crispy, cool lettuce wraps are usually quick to get a thumbs up: both as a casual, convenient dinner, or even as a healthy appetizer. But that alluring green leaf can often be deceiving, suggesting a good-for-you dish that’s in fact laden with saturated fats, excess sodium, or preservatives due to a filling made of oily animal proteins or faux meat products. And that’s exactly why one of our favorite wrap fillings is about as natural, clean, and low calorie as it gets: the humble jackfruit.
If you’ve never had young green jackfruit—a large tropical fruit that’s high in minerals (especially iron)—you’re in for a treat. Picked before its starches change into sugars, young jackfruit may have virtually no flavor on its own, but its incredible meat-like texture is the perfect canvas for all your favorite spices and marinades. Seasoned well (like the Vietnamese-inspired rendition we use in our recipe below), jackfruit is juicy, toothsome, and incredibly satisfying … the perfect answer to creating a lettuce wrap that’s beneficial from start to finish.
For our recipe, you’ll need canned young green jackfruit, which has been slightly tenderized in brine, to achieve the best texture (think a cross between pulled pork and chicken). Although organic jackfruit varieties are best, we’ve even found a convenient non-organic option of this funky fruit on the shelves of Trader Joe’s, proving its popularity is becoming quite widespread!
Finally, to take these wraps to the next superfood level, a special boost we love using as a topping are pili nuts. Pili nuts are quite a special treat: a buttery-tasting nut rich in omega 3s, vitamin E, and exceptionally high minerals like magnesium. Pili nuts can be a little pricey, and for that reason we only use them on occasion, but they make a very rewarding superfood edible adventure, nevertheless. If you’d rather skip them in this dish, chopped cashews or even peanuts will also make a fine substitute.
So yes, whip up some tasty lettuce wraps because they’re easy—but in this case, also because they’re so good for you!
WATCH HOW WE MAKE OUR SWEET & SOUR JACKFRUIT WRAPS:
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SWEET & SOUR JACKFRUIT WRAP PREP TIPS:
Follow these quick tips to make your cooking experience fool-proof!
Use canned jackfruit in brine. Some markets offer pre-seasoned jackfruit, usually sold in vacuum-packed bags. These can serve as a delicious dinner shortcut, but their flavorings are not appropriate for our recipe below.
Prep ingredients prior to cooking. Have your aromatics minced, your sauce stirred, and your herbs chopped prior to cooking. This recipe cooks quite quickly, and you’ll want to have everything ready to go as you need it.
Treat yourself to pili nuts, or use a substitute. While we’re big fans of pili nuts as nutrient-dense superfoods, you can just as easily use another nut in their place. Cashews and peanuts are two good substitutions.
Fill wraps moderately. Lettuce wraps are meant to be enjoyed by hand, but over-filling them can make them hard to eat. Depending on the size of your lettuce leaves, add just a spoonful or two of the quinoa and the jackfruit to ensure you can still wrap the ingredients up easily like a taco.
Serve warm or cool. Fresh off the skillet, enjoying these wraps warm is always an outstanding option. However, they’re also a good make-ahead meal if you prep the filling and cook the quinoa ahead of time, and simply assemble on demand—no need to heat.
MORE DELICIOUS ASIAN-INFLUENCED RECIPES:
Sweet & Sour Jackfruit Wraps
A Vietnamese-inspired sweet and sour filling made with succulent jackfruit, fresh herbs, crunchy nuts and more makes these crispy lettuce wraps truly irresistible. While excellent for a fresh lunch or light dinner, these wraps also make a show-stealing appetizer.
Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 10 | Total Time: 15 minutes Servings: 2 Author: Julie Morris
2½ tablespoons tamari
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
20-ounces canned young green jackfruit, packed in brine
2 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
1 red jalapeño (or other red spicy pepper), seeded and minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
¼ cup mint, chopped
1 scallion, thinly sliced
8-10 butter lettuce leaves
1 cup cooked quinoa, warmed
½ cup salted pili nuts, chopped (or ½ cup chopped salted cashews or peanuts)
1. In a small bowl, mix together the tamari, lime juice, and coconut sugar. Keep on standby.
2. Rinse the jackfruit very well and drain. Over a medium bowl, pull the jackfruit apart into bite-sized pieces.
3. Warm the olive oil in a large non-stick sauté pan medium heat. Add the jackfruit and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown—about 5 minutes. Stir in the jalapeño, garlic, and ginger, and cook for 1 minute longer. Give the tamari mixture a quick stir, and add it to the pan, mixing it in well. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce mixture has completely evaporated—about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, transfer to a mixing bowl, and fold in the cilantro, mint, and scallion.
4. To assemble, fill each butter leaf with a spoonful or two of quinoa, followed by a spoonful of the cooked jackfruit. Top with pili nuts (or other chopped nut of choice), and serve. Makes 8-10 small wraps.
Jackfruit wraps may be enjoyed warm or cool. The cooked jackfruit mixture will last for up to 3 days, refrigerated.