In a few short hours I will be headed to one of my most cherished places. The lake. The Canadian Shield. My grandmother’s house. As a little girl going to my G’s house was such a treat, she lives in a heavily treed community that overlooks Lake Ontario – it’s so stunning. The water itself isn’t for swimming, and honestly when the days get long and steamy hot the lake is downright stinky but man do I love it. Running straight from her house, down a narrow path, over a little wooden bridge (and through hundreds of spider webs…) to the stony beach covered in drift wood. It’s heaven. I can’t wait, I. Cannot. Wait.
Thinking about what kinds of meals to make with and for the group of family who will be coming up to the cottage – to the beautiful Canadian Shield – with us has been super fun and a little bit challenging as well. Most of us are veggies, some with strict dietary necessities an some with none at all. My biggest and brightest idea (considering there will be 8+ of us) is to make a base meal that everyone can then decorate themselves. Makes sense, right? Make up a big pot of stock and let folks add their own raw veggies or cooked up rice noodles to their bowls. Tacos, quesadillas, probably make some type of kabob. Lettuce wraps.
Family is for eating with your hands, making a huge mess, licking your fingers clean. What better way to ease into a family gathering with a clan of people who don’t get to see each other very often due to geographical sprawl? Get messy! It’s going to be great, these Barley & Mushroom Lettuce Wraps are the perfect choice. They aren’t quite sloppy Joe style messy, but their delicious spicy juice will run down your hand prompting a huge lapping up of the tongue. Yum.
Nicely spiced, can be eaten cold or hot – so made ahead or not, enjoyed inside or out. Self decorated family fun. No need to make special meals for picky eaters or the dietary restricted when the meal is build it yourself!
Barley & Mushroom Lettuce Wraps
1-2 Heads of Lettuce (Butter, Romaine, Red Leaf)
4 Small-Medium Tomatoes
2.5 Cups Cooked Barley
1 Cup Water
1.5 Cups Mixed Mushrooms
2 Tbsp Coconut Butter
4 Cloves of Garlic
1 inch Finger of Turmeric
1 inch Knob of Ginger
1 Tablespoon Ground Ancho Pepper
Salt & Pepper
Warm 1/2 cup of water in a large pan over medium-high heat, add the coconut butter and the mushrooms season with salt and pepper – sautee until soft. Chop the shallot, garlic and jalapeno (discard the seeds depending on level of spice desired). Using a zester or a hand grater grate the ginger and the turmeric right into the pan then add the chopped shallot, garlic and jalapeno. Reduce the heat to low and add the other 1/2 cup of water along with the ancho. Cover and cook for another 5 or so minutes. Add the barley, mix until fully combined then season again with salt and pepper if needed, cook for another 10 minutes. Set aside.
1/2 Cup Macadamia Nuts – soaked for 30 minutes
1/2 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 Cup Water
2 Tablespoons Grapeseed Oil
1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
Blend all ingredients until smooth, keep in the fridge until use.
Decorate the lettuce wraps with whatever toppings desired, tomatoes and crema work great for a creamy relief of the spiced barley mixture but micro greens, sprouts, or any other summer vegetable would be wonderful as well! Fill bowls with the decorations/toppings and set out plates of various types of lettuce. Spoon about 1/2 a cup of the barley mixture into the middle of a piece of lettuce, decorate then roll one side into the filling, tucking it underneath before continuing to roll it the rest of the way. Scoop the bottom closed and prepare for a family style feast!