When a PF Chang’s opened in my hometown of Wichita, Kansas, it was A Big Deal. I still remember the giant horse statue outside, the two-hour waits, and the chicken lettuce wraps that our server insisted we order. She was right. Although I couldn’t tell you the last time I ate at a PF Chang’s, the sweet crunch and addictive taste of those lettuce wraps is still perfect in my memory. Today’s recipe for vegetarian lettuce wraps is a copycat version of the illustrious PF Chang’s original. Made with tofu, mushrooms, and that secret sauce, these easy lettuce wraps boast the same flavor for a fraction of the calories, and I guarantee you won’t miss the meat!
If you are a tofu skeptic, please slow down and carefully consider this next sentence: my inspiration for these tofu lettuce wraps came from (wait for it) The Pioneer Woman. Yes, it was the Food Network queen of the cattle ranch herself who inspired me to use tofu for the vegetarian lettuce wrap filling.
A few weeks ago, I caught an episode where Ree, Pioneer Woman and self-professed lover of steak, made tofu vegetarian lettuce wraps. As I watched her crumble and sauté the tofu until it was crisp and golden, then pile it into cool lettuce leaves, I knew I had witnessed healthy dinner magic in the making. If tofu vegetarian lettuce wraps are approved in the home of a cattle rancher, they will be in yours too!
The Pioneer Woman put a southwest spin on her tofu lettuce wraps by adding corn and chili powder (which I may try at some point), but my recipe today is all about harnessing the flavors and ingredients that give PF Chang’s famous lettuce wraps the cult following they enjoy.
Although I can’t say for certain why the city of Wichita is so enamored of PF Chang’s (Wichita is small but not that small), I suspect the lettuce wraps are at least partially responsible.
Walk into any PF Chang’s, and at least half of the diners are up to their elbows in lettuce wraps. After you try this recipe—which I will enthusiastically pit against the best of PF Chang’s—you’ll understand why. The sauce is unbelievably addictive, the water chestnuts add a satisfying crunch, and the combination of the crumbled tofu with finely diced mushrooms in this vegetarian version makes the filling taste so savory, satisfying, and (dare I say it) meaty, you are likely to forget that you are eating tofu altogether.
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons canola or grapeseed oil
1 (12 to 14-ounce) package extra firm tofu (do not use silken)
1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (omit if sensitive to spice)
4 green onions, finely sliced, divided
8 large inner leaves romaine lettuce (from a romaine heart) or butter lettuce leaves
Optional for serving: Grated carrots, additional red pepper flakes
In a small bowl, stir together the hoisin, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Set aside.
Press the tofu between paper towels to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Refresh the paper towels and press again. Heat the 2 teaspoons canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Once the oil is hot, crumble in the tofu, breaking it into very small pieces as it cooks. Continue cooking for 5 minutes, then add the diced mushrooms. Continue cooking until any remaining tofu liquid cooks off and the tofu starts to turn golden, about 3 minutes more. Stir in the water chestnuts, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and half of the green onions and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds more.
You can find complete recipes of this Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps in wellplated.com