Monday, January 02, 2012

Turkey Lettuce Wrap Tacos with Chiles, Cumin, Cilantro, Lime and Tomato-Avocado Salsa

Turkey Tacos
These Turkey Lettuce Wrap Tacos are a great Phase One dinner!

(We're doing a Month of Daily Phase One recipes for January 2012, and for anyone doing phase one this month, these Turkey Lettuce Wrap Tacos from 2009 are a dinner that won't leave you feeling deprived.  You can use regular tortillas to make tacos for family members who aren't doing phase one.)

I'm on Twitter, along with a lot of other food bloggers, but this is the first time I've ever found a recipe there! Actually I'd been thinking about lettuce wrap tacos ever since I posted the recipe for the Spicy Turkey Lettuce Cups, but when I tried my usual Taco Salad meat/bean mixture in lettuce, it was just okay (I missed the Ranch dressing!) Then on Twitter I saw Marisa from Food in Jars talking about this turkey taco recipe, and when I checked the recipe, I knew it was going to be perfect. I never manage to make a recipe exactly like it's written, so I added some green onions (and a lot more cilantro) to the turkey mixture, but believe me, these turkey tacos are a complete keeper, something you'll make over and over. What makes this story especially fun is that I recently met Marisa at SXSW, and had a great time chatting with her in person after getting to know her on online. (Hi Marisa!)

I mentioned cilantro, and this is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, now managed by Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once, and hosted this week by Ivy from Kopiaste. I've written about cilantro for WHB over and over, and it's still my very favorite herb. If you're writing about interesting herbs or plants, check the rules for Weekend Herb Blogging.

Start by sauteeing the garlic and green chiles in olive oil for about a minute, then adding ground cumin and a pinch of ground chipotle (or use cayenne pepper) and sauteeing for a minute more.

Then add ground turkey and a tiny bit of salt and saute until the turkey is well-browned. This took about 5 minutes with my pan.

Add 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions and cook the turkey a couple of minutes more.

While the turkey cooks, chop a bunch of cilantro. After the onions cook with the turkey, turn off the heat and stir in a generous amount of chopped cilantro and 2 T fresh lime juice. I was shocked to realize I forgot to take a photo of the turkey with the cilantro stirred in, so I guess I need to make this again.

I ate my tacos with this simple salsa with avocado, diced cherry tomatoes, lime juice, and a bit of olive oil. This photo isn't the best, but the salsa was really good on the tacos!


Turkey Lettuce Wrap Tacos with Chiles, Cumin, Cilantro, Lime and Tomato-Avocado Salsa
(Makes about 8 tacos, recipe adapted from Molly Watson's Turkey Tacos, discovered via Twitter from Marisa.)

Ingredients for Tacos:
1 T olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic (I used minced garlic from a jar, but fresh garlic would be even better)
1-2 T diced green chiles (I used about half of a 4 oz. jar of diced green chiles, recipe called for fresh chiles which would be a bit hotter)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground chipotle chile powder (recipe called for cayenne)
1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 large bunch cilantro, finely chopped (about 1 1/4 cups chopped cilantro. I used 1 cup in tacos and 1/4 cup in salsa. Use more or less cilantro to taste.)
2 T fresh lime juice
2 large heads romaine lettuce (or use iceberg, Boston lettuce, or butter lettuce)

Instructions:
Heat olive oil in heavy frying pan then add minced garlic and diced green chiles and saute about 1 minute. (I used a non-stick pan. If you use fresh garlic and chiles, I'd cook them a bit longer.) Add cumin and ground chipotle or cayenne and cook about 1 minute more. Then add turkey and salt and cook over medium-high heat, breaking apart with the back of the turner as it cooks. Cook about 5 minutes, or until turkey is starting to brown.

While turkey cooks, thinly slice green onions and set aside, then wash cilantro, spin dry or dry with paper towels, and finely chop cilantro. Cut off root end of lettuce, discard tough outer leaves, and wash lettuce and spin dry in salad spinner or dry with paper towels.

When turkey is lightly browned, add sliced green onions and cook about 2 minutes. Turn off heat, then stir in 1 cup chopped cilantro and 2 T lime juice.

Ingredients for Salsa:
2 medium avocados, diced
1 1/2 cups finely chopped cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
2 T fresh lime juice
2 T olive oil (optional)
sea salt to taste

Instructions:
Peel and dice avocado, place in glass or plastic bowl and toss with lime juice. Stir in chopped tomato, chopped cilantro, and olive oil, season to taste with salt.

To ssemble tacos:
Spoon 2-3 large spoonfuls of turkey mixture into each piece of lettuce. (I used the inner more folded pieces of lettuce and saved the flatter outer pieces for using in salad.) Top meat mixture with salsa. You could also eat this mixture inside whole wheat tortillas or pitas, or even corn tortillas if you're not a South Beach dieter.

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South Beach Suggestions:
These tacos made with lean ground turkey and served inside lettuce are a perfect dish for any phase of the South Beach Diet or any other low-glycemic eating plan. This would be delicious with Marisa's Cumin Cabbage Slaw or Spicy Mexican Slaw.

More Variations on Turkey Tacos:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Turkey Tacos with Cranberry Salsa from Simply Recipes
Turkey Tacos from The Perfect Pantry
Turkey Tacos and Spicy Turkey Salad from Cindalou's Kitchen Blues
Quinoa and Turkey Taco Stew from Green Lite Bites
Extreme Fat Smash Turkey Tacos from This Mama Cooks
(Want even more turkey tacos recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)counter customizable free hit

66 comments:

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Those photos look pretty appealing! The colors and freshness are really popping for me on a rather gray day in New York City!

Joanne said...

Anything with cumin, cilantro and avocado sounds AMAZING to me. Thanks for sharing!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Like you I took one look and this and know that is going to be good. Your photos just totally convince!!

Pearl said...

i looove cumin!

inadobo said...

Ok, this is totally awesome! Love the idea of a lettuce wrap taco.

Your presentation is super and, as always, your photos are inviting.

Great find and excellent job of putting together a resource and history.

Murasaki Shikibu said...

I'm with Joanne on this. Cumin, cilantro & avocado...mmmmm... :))))

Kalyn said...

I'm so glad people are liking this. I forgot to write it in the post, but I actually gobbled down one of these tacos before I even take the photos. I never do that! They were just delicious, and I'm already planning to make them again this weekend.

Karen said...

Kalyn
These look great - I make a similar version but instead of chiptle chile powder, I chop up a canned chiptle chile and add a bit of the adobo sauce. I also throw in a can of black beans...very tasty! I love the salsa you've made to go along with it...can't wait to try it.

Marisa said...

In the last week and a half, I've already made these tacos twice. They are my new favorite and I'm so glad that you like them too!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Though I don't share your love of cilantro, I love turkey tacos in all forms, and using the lettuce to wrap them makes them oh-so-diet-friendly. The photos look great, too.

Maria said...

What a vibrant meal! I am loving that salsa!

carolyn t at tastingspoons.com said...

I'll definitely be trying these tacos. So full of flavor, I'm sure!

Daisy said...

Mmm. I think I might grow cilantro this year. I already grow several other herbs!

Gloria Chadwick said...

I love the idea of a lettuce-wrap taco! These look really, really good and the recipe sounds delicious. :)

aaron said...

salad, what a food. Those pics are very appealing. I can't wait for my lunch in Asia.

salad lover said...

very appealing pics, I can't wait for my lunch

Astra Libris said...

Oooh, what a beautiful, fresh, spring recipe!!

Caylen said...

Yummm!!! ...Just finished eating these with the boyfriend and we both LOVED them!! ...Will definately be making these again : ) .. The lettuce wrap idea is brilliant!

Kalyn said...

Sorry I've been distracted from replying to comments here, but so glad people liking the idea of lettuce wrap tacos.

Caylen, so glad you liked them! How is your name pronounced? Wondering if it's similar to my name which is pronounced Kay Lynn.

Gina said...

Looks Great! I love wrapping things in lettuce! : )

Paz said...

Awesome! Can't to try this. ;-)

Paz

Nina Timm said...

Delicious and not as bad as "real" tacos....I like that idea!!!!

@MuseKaren said...

That looks so good I'm going to make it for dinner tonight - thank you!

The Duo Dishes said...

Cilantro is up there with one of our fave herbs. This sounds great.

Zesty Cook said...

Oh WOw great recipe and great pictures... my stomach is growling :)

Pam said...

I love the sound of this! All my favorite flavors!

melissa said...

Great entry, great recipe from Marisa. Fun that you found it on Twitter.

I would love these for a weekend lunch. Thanks for the post.

Ivy said...

Kalyn, cilantro is my favourite herb as well although not very easy to get in Athens but I have bookmarked the recipe and will definitely make this. Thanks for creating this lovely event and thanks to Haalo for managing it.

Kalyn said...

I'm excited that so many people are enthusiastic about this recipe. I'm making it again in a few hours!

Ivy, thanks to you too, for hosting, the most work of all!

Maris said...

These look so good! I love avocado, I love how many of your recipes have a Southwestern twist!

Enobytes said...

Wow, these look mighty tasty! Thanks for sharing the link to the recipe.

Kalyn said...

Maris, it's that extreme cilantro addiction of mine! It's true, I love lime, chiles, cumin, all those southwest flavors.

Enobytes, they were wonderful. Just made them again today.

Your Moments Defined said...

Made this tonight and it was so delicious! The colors were beautiful, had it been a bit warmer we would have been eating on the patio. We'll definitely be making this again. All your recipes look so good and I'm making a couple new ones each week. I'm actually looking forward to another day on southbeach! :)

Kalyn said...

Your Moments Defined, thanks for letting me know you liked it! Really appreciate the nice feedback!

leslie said...

looks yummy! i think i'll put that on my list for this week.

Kevin said...

Those tacos look so fresh and tasty and good!

Linda Farmer said...

I made this last night pretty much exactly as written, and it was absolutely amazing. Thanks so much, Kalyn!

I have to admit I did add a little more garlic, and I used the whole little can of diced chiles.

If folks want to use this in pitas or wraps, I recommend they include the lettuce, either chopped or shredded. The romaine I used was crucial to the overall flavor, IMHO.

(Minor detail, the 1/4 cup cilantro isn't mentioned in the salsa directions - don't want anyone to forget to include that!)

And congrats and best wishes on your upcoming retirement, Kalyn!

Kalyn said...

Linda, glad you liked it and thanks for catching the mistake on the salsa. Will fix right now.

Eileen said...

Just had these last night for a Phase 1 meal and they were FANTASTIC! Kayln, I'm telling everyone I know about your blog--I don't think I could have gotten through Phase 1 without you. Thanks!

Kalyn said...

Eileen, so glad you liked the recipe, and thanks for telling people about the blog too.

graveflower said...

These were really, really good. My stepdad is having some heart troubles so I've been making him stuff from your blog, and it's gone over with him really well (even though he's a steak n steak kinda guy).

I made some amendments to the recipe. I'm not big on cilantro so I only put a little bit (was probably an insignificant amount) and, at the end, I thought the mix was a bit bland so I added another 1/4 tsp of chipotle powder. I used an entire can of mild chiles. Instead of using the salsa recipe (I ran out of tomatoes) I just diced up some avocado and used that as a garnish. I also used a little bit of sour cream. I had never used romaine lettuce as tortillas before, but was intrigued by the idea - and I'm so glad I tried it! At 100 calories a piece for flour tortillas, and as I'm not a fan of the whole wheat variety, they're a perfect substitute. I'll never eat tortillas again.
I think I'll make these again next week, but with the salsa instead.

I love your blog and have been telling everybody who cooks about it. Everything has been so quick, simple, and delicious.

Kalyn said...

Graveflower, so glad you liked the recipe and that the "steak and steak" guy also approved! Glad you're adapting them to your own tastes too, that's the best way to use anyone's recipes, if you ask me.

Shannon said...

I think it would be great loaded up with some feta cheese. Yum

Kalyn said...

Shannon, I could definitely imagine Feta on this (of course I could eat Feta on everything!)

Cindi said...

Wow! These look so delicious! Thank you, Kalyn, for doing the phase one recipes. It is going to be such a big help as I get started again. How can anyone feel deprived eating things like this while losing weight?

Cindi

myfrenchkitchen said...

Delicious healthy lettuce wraps!
Ronelle

Kalyn said...

Cindi, thanks. Glad it is helpful.

Ronelle, glad you like the idea. I love this for dinner.

Gena said...

This would be a very easy recipe to make raw vegan. Love it!

Donna said...

Anne and I make your Spicy Turkey Lettuce Cups all the time. It is easy and so flavorful. What a great recipe for the yew year!

Roz @ weightingfor50 said...

Hi Kalyn. I'm not on South Beach, I'm on weight watchers, and this recipe would fit beautifully into that plan too. Thank you for all your wonderful recipes. I love your blog.

Kalyn said...

Gena, glad you like it!

Donna, so glad you guys have enjoyed these. Definitely one of my favorites.

Roz, good to know. I think there is a lot of overlap between the two plans. Thanks for the nice words about the blog.

McGirl said...

Thanks so much Kalyn I LOVE IT!! I made the full recipe yesterday, hoping it would work for a week's worth of lunches. So far so good - it was wonderful the first day and just as great the second.

I did change it up today to use chopped lettuce instead of trying to eat it as a wrap, mostly because I was lazy and didn't want to have to microwave the turkey in one container and then use another for the meal. Instead I microwaved it, added spring mix (which I had on hand) and salsa on top, stirred and ate it like a salad. YUM.

Oh, and I also made half the amount of salsa, fearing it would go bad if I tried to use it over the course of a week. Looks like I'll need to make the second half on day 4.

Thanks again you are the BEST!
Michelle

Sandy @Southwestgirl said...

I love tacos in lettuce wraps! They are a "go to" answer for the times that I am the only one watching my carbs-I put mine in lettuce and the rest of the family can have taco shells if they wish.

Kalyn said...

Michelle, so glad they are working out so well for you!

Sandy, I think that's one of the best things about this as a dinner option! (Although I almost like them better with lettuce than with tortillas now.)

CJ said...

Kalyn, What a hit! Mr. McD ate his with tortillas, I ate mine like the recipe called for. Four thumbs up from both McDs. Delicious.

Sarah S. said...

My husband and I loved these tacos! Really good flavors. We added some cheese on a few, which was great too. This was also the first time I tried ground turkey...tastes the same as ground beef! I was happily surprised, and will probably stick with ground turkey for a LONG time, such a healthier option.

Kalyn said...

CJ and Sarah, so glad the tacos were a hit!

The Ranch Kitchen said...

Just ran across your site and I am so very impressed! Wow! Can't wait to browse all your recipes like this lettuce wrap!

Alise

Kalyn said...

Thanks Alise; glad you like the blog.

Anonymous said...

Made this tonight and it was amazing. I only had ground chicken, but it turned out great. Thank you, we will be making this again.

Hurricane Haylie said...

Delicious!!! So fresh and healthy. I hope you don't mind but I shared them on my blog and made sure to give you credit. www.hurricanhaylie.blogspot.com Thank you for sharing.

"Lil Soapy" Shannan said...

I have just finished making these tacos and I lovvvveee them! Excellent!

Kalyn said...

Always happy to hear that!

Samantha Andersen said...

These look amazing. I can't wait to try them. I posted a link to your recipe on my blog. You can check it out here. http://www.samanthaandersenphotography.com/2012/04/menu-plan-mondayweek-1-hl8wc.html
Thank you!

AdventuresinMomTown said...

Kalyn...I made this for dinner this evening and OMG my children LOVED it. My 6 yo had 4!!! We eat rather "clean" and I fell off the bandwagon late summer when my Dad passed away and now I'm getting back on track and thank you thank you for posting this. This reminded me just how delicious and yummy "clean" food can be. Your blog has been part of the "jump start" process to kinda shock me back into reality and cleaning up my menu planner and fridge. Thank you thank you.

Kalyn Denny said...

So glad to hear your family enjoyed it. And do I ever know how stress can make you fall off the wagon, good job getting back on track!

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