Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mediterranean Spiced Beef Lettuce Wraps

Mimi's Hummus in Ditmas Park, a neighborhood just south of us, has some of the best Mediterranean food we've ever had. On our first visit, we ordered an amazing dish called "meat hummus," which featured their insanely smooth and creamy hummus topped with a spiced ground beef mixture (now departed from the menu, sadly). We decided to refashion the meat into a lettuce wrap filling since recreating their hummus would take an enormous amount of skill and work.

The tahini sauce we pair with the lettuce wraps is a little finicky; be sure to fold the ingredients together very gently to prevent it from seizing up. Even if you're careful, you will probably end up with a thick, slightly grainy texture, rather than a completely smooth and pourable sauce--and that's just fine. The leftover sauce makes a perfect dip for sliced cucumbers and radishes.

Mediterranean Spiced Beef Lettuce Wraps

Cooking Time
30 minutes


4 wrappers (as an appetizer)

Chef's knife and cutting board
Heavy-bottomed skillet

1/2 cup tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon chili oil
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
Kosher or sea salt
Black pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 lb. ground beef (we use 80/20)
Kosher or sea salt
1 medium yellow onion, very finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 large handful Italian parsley, very thinly sliced
Black pepper
Large outer leaves of 1 head of butter lettuce (be careful--it's very delicate and easily torn) or iceberg lettuce if you prefer less fussy lettuce

1. To make sauce, gently fold together tahini, lemon juice, chili oil, and honey. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

2. Heat canola oil in skillet on medium high. Add ground beef and season lightly with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to bowl with slotted spoon.

3. Drain fat from skillet, leaving just enough to coat the bottom. Add onion, season very lightly with salt, and sauté on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden in color, about 15 minutes (deglaze pan with a splash of water as necessary if it gets too dry). Stir in garlic, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, and marjoram. Sauté until aromatic, about 1 minute.

4. Add beef to onion mixture and cook just until heated through, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in pine nuts and a big pinch of parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

5. To make lettuce wraps, place a heaping tablespoon of beef mixture in the center of each lettuce leaf. Top with tahini sauce to taste and sprinkle with more parsley.

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