The Litigator Lettuce Wrap

photo_4With no shame I admit I am a huge fan of lettuce wraps. PF Changs, the local take out place, it doesn’t matter where they come from, I adore them.

The reality is, a lot of lettuce wraps have delectable sauces but these sauces are very high in sodium, contain MSG, or other additives that may leave you feeling heavy after your meal. Plus, becoming a regular at the take out place by my house was enough of an alarm that it was time for me to learn how to make a healthy, quick, and equally tasty version of my own.photo_1

Hence, the litigator lettuce wrap. Easy enough that even after a day spent preparing and litigating in court, you could come home, and quickly whip this up as a meal with the last bit of energy you have left.

I was particularly fond of this recipe since it finally gave me the opportunity to pick the beautiful lettuce growing in my backyard and put the leaves to use as the starlets in a supporting role for this dish. There really is something outstanding about home grown lettuce. It’s not as bitter, and is so vibrant in color.

The Litigator Lettuce Wrap

by Pleadings & Pasta © 2013

photo_2Ingredients (double if necessary)

1/2 lb of ground chicken

1 can of water chestnuts

1 large roasted red pepper

6 scallions

3 cloves of garlic

Sesame oil

Several large lettuce leaves

For sauce:

3 tablespoons of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of honey

2 tablespoons of Sriracha

1 tablespoon of Teriyaki

2 tablespoons of water

1. Chop into small pieces the water chestnuts, red pepper, and scallions.

2. Sautee over medium heat the chopped garlic in sesame oil. Once lightly browned add the water chestnuts, red pepper, and scallions. Sautee for about 5 minutes until cooked.

3. Remove from pan and place in bowl. Add a bit more sesame oil and add ground chicken. Cook through until no longer raw. Add sauce and sauteed vegetables and sautee until incorporated (about 2-3 minutes)

4. Spoon mixture into each lettuce leaves. Wrap up, and enjoy!


Gardening tip: The beautiful thing is, when you plant your own lettuce, it’s the gift that keeps giving. So once you take a few leaves off, your plant will produce more! That means there are a lot more lettuce wrap nights in your future.


Eat with all of your heart,


Zucchini Flower Poppers

photo 3One of the delicious Calabrese traditions I grew up with was sitting down for a plateful of Nonna’s famous fried zucchini flower fritters before our main course. If you haven’t tried a zucchini flower before, you are missing out! These flowers are delicate, flavorful, and beautifully colored, and make for a great appetizer to any  meal.

Since my zucchini plant has been blooming with many flowers this season, I took it as a sign that it was time to fry up the delicious zucchini flower fritters I grew up on, but with my own Pleadings & Pasta twist.

photo 2So I took to reconstruct the traditional recipe but with a more modernized pub flair. I am a big fan of jalapeño poppers, but often find them to be a bit too heavy for my liking. So, instead, I took the concept of the jalapeño popper, “Mediterraneanized” it, and arrived at the delicious and comforting Zucchini Flower Poppers recipe below.

The great thing about this recipe is it’s customizable, easy to make, and is a perfect summer recipe to accommodate all of the summer blooming zucchini blossoms. Also, it gives you that to die for combination of warm gooey cheese in the middle of fried goodness, but with a lighter feel. Watch out though, that means you’ll probably want to (and be able to) eat more of them!

Zucchini Flower Poppers

by Pleadings & Pasta © 2013


  • 12-13 zucchini blossoms; delicately rinsed and stamens removed*
  • 6 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil or your other favorite fresh herbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2/3 cup of flour
  • 3/4 cup of beer (whatever is on hand, preferably a lighter or wheat beer)
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, grated
  1. Rinse off your flowers and let them dry completely. This will help in the frying process. You can let them air dry on a paper towel or alternatively in the fridge to keep them fresh and prevent wilting
  2. Continue by mixing the goat cheese, chopped herb, salt and pepper together and set aside
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour and beer  together. Add a pinch of salt to the mixture. The consistency should be like that of pancake 1
  4. Start filling the zucchini blossoms with a mound of the goat cheese mixture.. Be careful not to tear the flower petals. I noticed it was easiest to insert a rolled up ball of the  mixture right inside that wasn’t too large so it sat at the bottom inside of the flower. Push the petals together to close up the flower so the filling doesn’t escape during frying.
  5. Fill a pan or pot with several inches of olive oil or frying oil of choice. Heat to medium heat, or approximately 350 degrees.
  6. Place the filled zucchini blossoms into the batter until fully coated, then lay them into the hot pan of oil. After 2-4 minutes the first side will be brown, and you can flip them over for another 2-4 minutes. Remove from the heat once golden brown and let them drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
  7. Sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese as a finishing touch and serve!

photo 2This Pleadings & Pasta original was by far one of my favorite creations, and it’s sure to become a favorite of yours too. And of course, wash down the delectable poppers with the beer you used for the batter to bring the pub atmosphere into your very own kitchen.

A quick gardener’s note for those using flowers from their own garden. I am a new gardener, and I was hesitant to start picking the beautiful flowers I worked so hard to take care of before they became bright green 1 However, rest assured you can pick the male zucchini flowers (skinny stem with stamen in the middle) as they only serve the purpose to pollinate the female flowers and never will become zucchini. So once your female flowers are pollinated, don’t let them the male flowers go to waste and fry up a few with the recipe above!

Eat with all of your heart,