Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Vietnamese Pork Meatballs in Lettuce Wraps

I was recently sent a copy of Sheet Pan Paleo to review.  Although you can tell from this blog that I obviously don't follow a paleo diet, I am always up for trying new recipes so I was excited to take a look. Regardless of whether you're a paleo fan or just interested in trying something new, this cookbook has a wide variety of recipes. Most are focused around meat or fish proteins, although there is also a vegetarian chapter (but, I wouldn't recommend this book for vegetarians since the vast majority of recipes are meat-based).  In addition to focusing on paleo ingredients, the other focus of this cookbook is that all the recipes are baked on a sheet pan, meaning that they tend to be quick and relatively hands off.

The recipe I tested was the Vietnamese Pork Meatballs in Lettuce Wraps.  I have actually made it twice because we loved it so much! First, this is totally do-able on a weeknight -- especially on my second time through the recipe, I'd say it took me about 30 minutes start to finish.  Plus, the flavors are amazing.  The meatballs are rich and savory, and both the carrot slaw and the creamy sauce hit all the right notes with acid (lime juice) and herbs (cilantro).  The original recipe combined carrots and cabbage in the slaw, but since my husband isn't a big cabbage fan, we went all carrot and loved the results -- feel free to sub in thinly sliced cabbage for half the carrots if you prefer.

Vietnamese Pork Meatballs in Lettuce Wraps (adapted from Sheet Pan Paleo)
Serves 3-4

For the meatballs:
1 pound ground pork
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1 T minced fresh ginger
1 T fish sauce
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 green onion, white and green parts, thinly sliced

For the cilantro-lime crema:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 T minced cilantro
Juice of 1/2 to 1 lime (to taste)

To serve:
4 carrots, peeled and shredded
2 T minced cilantro
1 green onion, white and green parts, thinly sliced
Juice of 1/2 to 1 lime (to taste)
Salt and pepper
Leaves of 1 head butter or Boston lettuce, rinsed and dried

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with foil.  Spray with oil.
2. Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix with your hands to combine.  Divide into 12 meatballs and place on the baking sheet.  Bake 10 minutes, then flip the meatballs, and cook about 7-10 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.
3. Meanwhile, combine the cilantro-lime crema ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine.  Taste and add more lime juice if you like.
4. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, cilantro, green onion, and lime juice.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. To assemble the lettuce wraps, top each lettuce leaf with a scoop of carrots, a meatball, and a drizzle of the cilantro-lime crema.

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