Romaine lettuce is often associated with Caesar salad but we think it makes a great lettuce cup too. Unlike butter lettuce, which is very tender, it holds its shape well and you don’t have to worry about it crumbling underneath your filling. Also, our romaine is harvested when the outer leaves are only about 6 inches long, which makes it the perfect size for this application.
The filling variations are endless. Quinoa cooked in the way described below provides a good, sticky base for the other items but you can use millet, rice or any other grain you have on hand. Switch out the beans and use black, kidney, cannellini or even French lentils (or choose another protein source all together). You don’t have to use the olives or capers but I would include something with a bit of punch – chopped pickles, sun-dried tomatoes or some kind of chopped fermented vegetable. I like a little extra crunch from the celery but you can leave it out if desired. Choose whichever spices you like best and make it your own!
Quinoa & Chickpea Lettuce Cups
serves 4-6 as a main meal
Recipe note: below I suggest topping the lettuce cups with crumbled feta for ease but I think a feta or yogurt based sauce with fresh herbs would take this over the top. I am thinking of something like this recipe.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup washed quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed
- 1/4 cup sliced olives
- 1 tablespoon drained and rinsed capers
- 3 tablespoons thinly sliced celery (from about 3 small stalks)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Romaine lettuce and feta to serve
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the quinoa and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed, about 16 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl.
- Add the chickpeas, olives, capers, celery, oregano, oil, vinegar and salt and pepper and stir well to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve on romaine lettuce leaves topped with crumbled feta if desired.