Inspiration from Giada, who needs easy meals, too

Thai Turkey Lettuce Cups, from Giada DeLaurentiis' new cook- book, "Weeknights With Giada."
Thai Turkey Lettuce Cups, from Giada DeLaurentiis' new cook- book, "Weeknights With Giada." (MAUREEN FITZGERALD)
Posted: March 08, 2012

An excerpt from the blog "My Daughter's Kitchen."

Giada DeLaurentiis has a new cookbook, Weeknights With Giada, to be released this month, with recipes designed for throwing together a good dinner after a long day at work.

Even TV chefs want family dinners. Giada wants to give her daughter the home-cooked dinners she remembers growing up. But even she doesn't have hours to spend.

"Because my daughter is 4, I want to spend my free time hanging out with her," she told me in a phone interview. "The time I spend playing in the kitchen has become very minimal."

So that is the focus of this new book: dishes that taste great and come together quickly. "It has forced me to be more creative," she said.

As a working mother who remembers racing home from work to cook, I can still feel the stress of producing a quick meal for hungry kids. And even with the kids grown and out of the house, I'm not looking to spend hours on weeknight dinner.

And neither is my daughter, who is constantly reminding me of the concept of this blog: Easy, Healthy, Cheap.

Giada's recipe for Thai Turkey Lettuce Cups certainly fits the bill. Though you do have to shop for a couple of ingredients you probably don't normally stock (lemongrass and fish sauce), once you've got the stuff in your fridge, it comes together in about 15 minutes. Honestly. The hardest part is juicing the limes. And it really packs a punch of flavor.

It is not a typical Giada recipe, as she steps away from her Italian roots. But she does get it right.

"My husband loves Thai food," she told me. "So all those recipes are for him."


Thai Turkey Lettuce Cups

Makes 4 servings

1/3 cup fresh lime juice (from about 4 limes)

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)

2 tablespoons Thai fish  sauce

2 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 red onion, diced

3 small shallots, thinly sliced

1 (4-inch) piece of lemongrass, minced (about 1/4  cup)

1 Thai or serrano chile, stemmed and thinly sliced

1  1/2 pounds ground turkey,  preferably dark meat

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lemon juice, fish sauce, and honey.

2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, shallots, lemongrass, and chile. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the turkey and season with salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the meat and vegetables are cooked through, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the dressing to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the turkey mixture onto the lettuce leaves and serve.

- From "Weeknights With Giada," by Giada DeLaurentiis (Clarkson Potter, 2012)

Note: This recipe can also be made with ground chicken, beef, or pork.

Per serving: 523 calories, 42 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams sugar, 33 grams fat, 174 milligrams cholesterol, 887 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.


Contact Maureen Fitzgerald at 215-854-5744 or mfitzgerald@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @mydaughterskit. Read her blog, "My Daughter's Kitchen," at www.philly.com/mydaughter.

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