It is 5 million degrees outside…and I couldn’t be happier.
I love summer so much!
I know, I know, some of you don’t share my affection for this most wonderful time of the year. But guys, I’ve gotta tell ya that I would choose a sweaty day in the three-digit July sunshine over a frigid day in the bitter December windchill anytime. Partly, it’s because I’m obsessed with soaking up those extra hours of sunshine this time of year, when I can stock up on my Vitamin D. (Barclay likes to say I’m “solar-powered”.) But mostly, it’s just because summertime with its flip flops and iced beverages and grill-outs and sundresses and swimming pools make me so dang happy.
Know what else makes me happy?
Light and fresh and healthy and delicious meals (bonus, that don’t require you to heat up the oven!)…like this one.
I’ve long been a fan of lettuce wraps, ever since we got obsessed with them at PF Chang’s back in high school. (<– Anyone??) They’re the perfect way to serve up just about any dish that usually requires a bun, or tortilla, or a bed of rice without all of those extra calories. And they taste so nice and fresh and light, and always look so cute!
So when I was craving some orange chicken the other night, I decided to nix my usual side of rice in place of some Bibb lettuce cups.
I made my favorite simple sesame orange sauce, which is naturally sweetened with a little bit of honey and chocked full of Florida’s Natural® Brand Orange Juice (<– which I love using because it genuinely is 100% juice grown in Florida, and contains no extra sweeteners, win-win!). Then while it came to a simmer on the stove…
…I chopped up some cooked chicken breasts that I had in the fridge (you could also chop up a rotisserie, or cook some ground chicken, if you prefer), along with some water chestnuts, a fresh orange, and some green onions…
…then sauteed everything together…
…and then served it up in some lettuce cups, garnished with some almonds, green onions, and sesame seeds.
Seriously, so easy, and SO GOOD.
And by contrast to traditionally fried and sugary orange chicken, this version tasted extra-fresh when served on lettuce and made with naturally-sweetened Florida’s Natural® Brand Orange Juice. Much more my style anyway — loved it!
So if you’re looking for a fresh and delicious meal to serve this summer — or really, any time of year you’re looking for a lighter option — this one’s a winner winner chicken dinner.
(optional: 1-2 teaspoons sriracha, added to taste)
Orange Chicken Lettuce Wraps Ingredients:
1 batch orange sauce (see above)
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts*, cooked and then finely-chopped (about 2.5 cups cooked)
1 large navel orange, peeled and diced
1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1/4 cup thinly-sliced green onions
8–10 Bibb lettuce leaves
toppings: slivered or chopped toasted almonds, toasted sesame seeds, (extra) thinly-sliced green onions
To Make The Orange Sauce:
Whisk all ingredients together in a large saute pan (or you can whisk it together in a smaller bowl and then add it to the saute pan) until combined, adding sriracha if desired to taste.
Turn the stove burner to medium-high, and heat the sauce until it reaches a simmer, stirring occasionally. After it simmers for about a minute, the sauce should thicken. Then it will be ready to use with the recipe.
To Make The Orange Chicken Lettuce Cups:
Prepare orange sauce as directed above.
Once it’s ready, stir the chicken, diced orange, water chestnuts, and green onions into the sauce until combined. Continue cooking over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes until all of the ingredients are warmed through.
Remove from heat, and portion the chicken mixture into the lettuce cups. Sprinkle with your desired toppings, and serve immediately.
*You could also use ground chicken for this recipe. Or if you’d like to skip the cooking, feel free to chop up a rotisserie chicken.