This Fresh, Flavorful, and Frugal recipe was inspired by the incredible country of Lebanon. Lebanese Lettuce Wraps are a sort of ‘deconstructed’ Fatush salad. The Pita bread is replaced with hummus topped Romaine lettuce cups and loaded with fresh cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes, and fresh herbs.
Lebanon is a marvelous place, as historic as historical gets. The Lebanese people are of Phoenician descent an ancient civilization of artisans, merchants and traders. Lebanon is even mentioned in the Bible as the place where Jesus reportedly turned Water into Wine.
Today the Lebanese Republic is roughly 4,036 sq mi, about the size of New Jersey, and is home to 6 million people with unique demography and at least 18 individual religious sects all living peacefully together. It’s a beautiful coastal land nestled on the Mediterranean sea with lush green cedar forests, beaches and snow-capped mountains with incredible history, culture, food, and nightlife. As my hero the late Anthony Bourdain once said, Lebanon is where the rest of the middle east goes to let their hair down.
The Lebanese cuisine utilizes a lot of meat, mostly lamb and chicken, grains, Tahina (or Tahini), lots of fresh herbs, cucumbers, tomatoes, and radishes. Favorite dishes include Tabbouleh, Kibbeh, Fattoush, Hummus, and Baklava. Seasonings include Sumac Powder, which has a tart cranberry-like flavor, and Za’atar, a Levantese Herbal Blend.
Za’atar is by far one the best spice blends to come out of the Levant, –A group of countries in the eastern Mediterranean consisting of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and southern Turkey– and my absolute favorite. There are many different variations of the herb mix, but the ideal spice blend includes Wild Oregano, Thyme, Sesame Seeds, Sumac, and Salt. Each region and family of the Levant has their “secret recipe” for Za’atar, in Lebanon the mix is made with Thyme as the predominant spice.
Za’atar can be used on EVERYTHING. I use in on Flat-breads, Hummus, Salads, and Meat like the chicken you’ll see in this recipe. I recommend checking out your local Halal food market where they probably sell a giant bag for a fraction of the cost of most online retailers. Sumac is another spice that can be purchased very inexpensively at a middle eastern grocer rather than online.
If a Halal/Middle Eastern grocery is not available in your area always try to buy in bulk on Amazon to get the best price per ounce.
These Lebanese Lettuce Wraps are a sort of ‘deconstructed’ Fatush salad where the Pita bread is replaced with Romaine Lettuce Boats. I recommend using the tender inner leaves for the wraps and saving the tougher outer leaves for a salad later on in the week.
If you have a little extra time you can try making homemade hummus.
Quick Tip: Make sure always to serve Hummus at room temperature so that the subtle nuances, like the fruitiness of the extra virgin olive oil and nuttiness of Tahina, are more pronounced.
If you’re short on time or forgot to soak your chickpeas (usually the case over here) you can use store bought Hummus like Sabra, their “Luscious Lemon Hummus” is Deee-lish and perfect for this recipe. This is a super simple, super healthy and super frugal recipe that comes together in minutes. All components can be stored separately and assembled in less than a minute for the following day’s lunch. My friends, family, and co-workers all loved it!
I hope you enjoy it too and please let me know what you think in the comments below.
Lebanese Lettuce Wraps
These gorgeous Lettuce Wraps are a real crowd pleaser.
They are Fresh, Frugal, Flavorful, and incredibly simple to put together.
- 4 Each Chicken Thights skinned and deboned
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil Extra Virgin
- 2 Tbsp Za'atar
- 3/4 Cup Prepared Hummus
- 1 Each Romaine Lettuce Hearts
- 1 Each Roma Tomato Diced
- 1/2 Each English Cucumber Diced
- 1 Each Radish Thinly Sliced
- 1/4 Cup Parsley Chopped
- 2 T Mint Chopped
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil Extra Virgin
- Salt To Taste
Heat a cast iron grill pan or a saute pan over medium-high heat.
In a medium bowl, combine Chicken with 1/4 of EVOO and Za'atar, toss and set aside while you prep the fresh garnish.
Separate the romaine hearts into individual leaves, you will need 3 per serving for a total of 12 leaves.
In a small bowl toss the cucumbers, tomatoes, radish, parsley and mint with 1 Tablespoon of EVOO and season with a little salt.
Cook the chicken thighs approximately 5 minutes per side or until 165°F. Let cooked chicken thighs rest for 5 minutes then cut into 1/2 inch dices.
Spread 1 tablespoon of hummus in the center of each romaine leaf along the rib. Add diced chicken and top with fresh garnish.