Rush Hour

As the weather warms, our first instinct is to lighten the menus we prepare for friends and family. But instead of turning to the tried and true salad, consider mixing it up a bit with a fusion of Asian and Southwestern cuisines. This month, I bring you lettuce wraps -- a popular Asian appetizer -- filled with the taste of the Southwest. It's love at first bite!

First, a few notes about the recipe before we dig in. You can opt to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of thighs. However, I like using the thighs because they add an element of moisture that breasts generally don't. Also, The onion, avocado and cherry tomatoes are merely topping suggestions. You can use anything under the sun and items like chopped peppers and sour cream are equally at home in this dish.

Often served as an appetizer in restaurants, I actually highly recommend this one as a main course. You can always spoon some Spanish rice alongside and sip a margarita! Welcome spring!

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Enjoy!

Southwestern Lettuce Wraps

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2/3 c. frozen corn
  • 2 tsp. southwestern seasoning or taco seasoning
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans
  • 1 head Boston lettuce, washed and individual leaves removed
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • Salsa, for serving

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add the chicken and sauté until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the corn, taco seasoning and minced garlic and sauté another 3 minutes. Add the black beans, reduce the heat to medium-low heat, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, clean and prepare the remaining vegetables and place on a serving platter. To serve, spoon a small amount of the chicken and bean mixture into a lettuce cup and garnish with the vegetables of your choice.

  • Yields: 3-4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes