Asian Pesto Chicken Meatball Lettuce Wraps

Nourishing and delicious, these Asian Pesto Chicken Meatball Lettuce Wraps are packed with protein, fiber and skin-friendly beta carotene.
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Photo by: EA Stewart ©2016, Television Food Network, G. P. All Rights Reserved.

EA Stewart, 2016, Television Food Network, G. P. All Rights Reserved.

Nourishing and delicious, these Asian Pesto Chicken Meatball Lettuce Wraps are packed with protein, fiber and skin-friendly beta carotene to give your complexion a healthy glow into fall and beyond!

In addition to one of fall’s favorite foods, sweet potatoes, these Chicken Meatball Lettuce Wraps contain heart-healthy oats, flax seeds and cashew nuts. Oh, and about that Asian pesto sauce, fair warning: You may want to eat it by the spoonful. It’s that good!

I used a combo of dark-meat and white-meat chicken, along with some egg, ground oats and ground flax seed, to keep the meatballs moist. But feel free to experiment with all-white-meat or all-dark-meat chicken, and to sub almond flour for the oats if you prefer a grain-free version.

The pesto sauce is easily made ahead of time, as are the meatballs, so you can pull the recipe together quickly to enjoy it as a complete meal for lunch or dinner whenever you’re ready to eat.

Asian Pesto Chicken Meatball Lettuce Wraps

Serves 4

Asian Pesto
2 cups loosely packed cilantro, large stems removed
½ cup roasted & lightly salted cashew nuts
1 large clove garlic
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon low sodium (gluten free optional) tamari or soy sauce

Meatballs
1 large egg
½ pound ground white meat chicken
½ pound ground dark meat chicken
¼ cup oats (gluten free optional)
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Lettuce Wraps
8 romaine lettuce leaves
2 cups grated sweet potato
1 cup chopped green onion
Asian pesto (recipe above)
Meatballs (recipe above)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a silicone liner or aluminum foil, and set aside.

Make the Asian pesto: Combine cilantro, cashew nuts, garlic, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, and tamari in a blender. Blend on high speed, stopping blender periodically to scrape sides, until ingredients are smooth. Pour into a small bowl until ready to assemble lettuce wraps. (May be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container, until ready to use.)

Make the meatballs: Crack egg into a large mixing bowl, and stir with a whisk or fork until well beaten. Add ground chicken to bowl. Place oats and ground flax seed in a blender, and blend on high speed until mixture resembles coarse flour. Add oat/flax mixture to chicken and eggs along with ginger, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir well with a fork until ingredients are well combined. Using clean, well-moistened hands (to prevent meatballs from getting too sticky), shape ground chicken mixture into 24, ~ 1 inch diameter meatballs, and place on lined baking sheet. Bake in oven for 15 minutes, or until cooked through, and no pink color remains.

While meatballs are cooking, grate sweet potato with a box grater or food processor with a grater/shredder blade. Place in microwave safe bowl with plastic wrap on top. Poke holes in plastic wrap with a fork. Heat on high in microwave for 1 minute. Carefully remove plastic wrap and stir sweet potatoes. Place plastic wrap back on top, and cook for an additional 1 minute, or until sweet potato has softened. Allow to cool before assembling lettuce wraps

Assemble the lettuce wraps: Carefully wash and dry lettuce leaves, then place on a serving tray for assembly. Divide sweet potato mixture equally, and place on top of lettuce leaves. Top each lettuce leaf with 3 meatballs, about 1 tablespoon of Asian pesto, and chopped green onions. Serve immediately.

Per serving (2 wraps): Calories 455; Fat 15 g {Saturated 2 g); Cholesterol 132 mg; Sodium 645 mg; Carbohydrate 48 g; Fiber 7 g; Sugars 7 g; Protein 36 g

EA Stewart, MBA, RD is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in wellness and GI nutrition. In addition, EA is the creator of  The Spicy RD , which features delicious gluten-free recipes made from healthy, seasonal ingredients.

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