When spring and summer roll around it’s nice to shake up the dinner routine with a few lighter, fresher options. This is also the time of year that I tend to get a craving for Asian-inspired dishes. Cold noodle salads, spring rolls and lettuce wraps are all refreshing, summery choices that provide fun, unique ways to introduce new flavors to kids.
Lettuce wraps in particular can be a great kid-friendly way to get our smallest citizens to eat the green stuff. At our house, I explained it as a “taco made of lettuce.” In truth, Lillian mostly ended up eating the filling, but this was the first time I’ve managed to get her to even take a few bites of lettuce. Sometimes the smallest victories are enough. I suspect with slightly older children (i.e. NOT an almost-two) the lettuce will be an easier sell.
The filling itself offers a nice variety of veggies and protein, including chicken, mushrooms and water chestnuts, cooked up in a flavorful sauce. These are quite similar in flavor to the popular appetizer at PF Chang’s chain restaurants. The sauce has a traditional Asian flavor profile, featuring garlic, ginger, soy and sesame oil…all that spice and umami provide the perfect balance to the crisp lettuce.
The beauty of this particular version is that you can make it in the slow cooker. No need to fire up a hot skillet or wok on a blazing hot summer evening. Instead just chop all your ingredients, toss them in the slow cooker a few hours beforehand and let it do the work. About thirty minutes before serving, wash and separate your lettuce leaves, cook some brown rice and arrange it all in the middle of the table so everyone can build their own lettuce wrap masterpiece.
Next week, I’m hoping to introduce Lillian to cold, Asian noodle dishes. There are certainly plenty of recipes out there and I’ve made a ton of them but this one from Weelicious, for Cold Soba Noodles looks especially promising. I can’t wait to give it a try.
What are some of your favorite kid-friendly, refreshing summertime dishes?