Turkey Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Chayote and Radish Slaw

Bursting with spicy, citrusy notes, you never know that these addictive turkey lettuce wraps are good for you. You'll just think they're good eats.

This is part two of a three-part series sharing heart-healthy recipes. Part one, my Quick Mexican Chipotle Black Bean Soup, posted on Monday. Today, I'm sharing an easy and quick recipe for Turkey Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Chayote and Radish Slaw. On Friday, I'll be posting part three, a Lenten recipe for Tuna Tostadas. These recipes are brought to you in collaboration with Smart & Final.

I love lettuce wraps. They're fresh-tasting, satisfying yet light. They're a great choice when you're watching your carbs or just want a good meal that won't weigh you down. 

Why choose turkey?

Light, lean protein is a great choice for keeping cholesterol in check while still feeding your body what it needs to thrive. Turkey in particular is a protein-rich food with as much as 24 grams per serving. It's also high in B3, B6 and B12, phosphorous and zinc – all of which are important for supporting the immune system. It's also a good source of selenium, a powerful antioxidant that can protect against heart disease. 

What is "chayote"?

Chayote (pronounced “chah-YOH-teh”) is native to Mexico. Also known as a squash pear or chayote squash pear, it's available year-round at most major supermarkets. Though it's often called (and treated like) a vegetable, it's actually a fruit and a member of the gourd family. Pear-shaped with a texture that's a cross between a potato and a cucumber, the flesh, seed, stems and leaves are all edible. 

With its high water content (nearly 93 percent of it’s total weight), chayote is an excellent choice for healthy eats: one chayote is a mere 39 calories, nearly fat-free, no cholesterol, very low in sodium, high in potassium and low in carbohydrate (9g with 3.5g of fiber). It can be eaten cooked or raw. Today, we're using it raw in a tangy, spicy slaw paired with radish.

Are radishes good for you?

Yes! Radishes come in a variety of colors and shapes. The red round – or globe – radish is the most commonly found in supermarkets. They are packed with antioxidants and, according to WebMD, can improve cardiovascular health by helping to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. 

More benefits of radishes: 

  • Cholesterol-free
  • Low-calorie
  • High in vitamin C
  • Good source of calcium, potassium and iron
  • Help reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes
  • Can aid in weight loss
  • Improves liver function 

Let's get cooking! 

I like to get the slaw started first so that it has time to sit and develop flavor while cooking the turkey. Ingredients for the slaw include chayote, radish, celery leaves, jalapeño, First Street carrots, limes, red onion as well as salt and pepper.

I like to julienne the veg so that they are similar in size. I roughly chop the celery and mince the jalapeño. We're only using two tablespoons of the pepper for the dressing but go ahead and mince the entire jalapeño because the rest will be tossed in with the turkey. Also, a reminder that a pepper's heat lives in the veins and seeds. If you want less spicy heat, remove them before mincing. 

Toss the all the veggies into a serving bowl except for the jalapeño. In a small bowl, whisk the lime juice, jalapeño, salt, black pepper and sugar, then pour it over the veg. 

Toss well, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

I'm using First Street Ground Turkey. It's 85% lean. I like to buy this 3-pound package. When I get it home, I divide the turkey into three quart-size resealable bags and toss two in the freezer, keeping one in the refrigerator to use immediately. 

To cook the turkey, I'm keeping with the Mexican-inspired theme from the slaw and using the rest of the jalapeño along with cumin, coriander, diced white onions, minced garlic and of course, salt and pepper. Getting all the ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start cooking is a good habit to get into. It helps to ensure that you don't miss an ingredient and cuts down on stopping and starting once you're at the stove. 

After heating olive oil in an 8-inch pan, I sauteed the onion for about 2 minutes, until they were translucent but not browned. 

The jalapeño joined the onion and I cooked it for about a minute. 

I dumped in the garlic and cooked, stirring continuously, for about 1 minute.

The spices get added next. Letting them cook with the oil and the aromatics is called "blooming" and it basically wakes up the ground spices so they release their natural oils and you get maximum flavor from them.

 I cooked them, again, stirring continuously so they wouldn't burn, for about 30 seconds. 

The turkey finally joins the party.

As does the salt and pepper.

Break up the meat with a spatula, leaving some pieces a little bigger than others to help create more texture. Cooking, occasionally stirring, until the moisture released by the meat evaporates and the turkey begins to brown. Add ¼ cup of water, stirring and cook for about 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat and transfer the meat to a serving bowl.

To serve, add a few tablespoons of turkey to the center of a butter lettuce leaf and top with the slaw. 

Turkey Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Chayote and Radish Slaw

The vegetables for the slaw are julienned. To julienne means to cut into short, thin strips like little batons. 

Serves 4


For the slaw:
¼ large red onion, thinly sliced 
½ peeled chayote, julienned 
1 small carrot, julienned
2 red radishes, julienned
½ cup chopped celery leaves
1 jalapeño, minced (with seeds for more heat, without for less), divided
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 lime)
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated sugar

For the turkey:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ cup finely diced white onion (about ¼ large onion)
2 fat cloves of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 pound ground turkey
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
¼ cup water

To serve:
1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated and rinsed well


Make the slaw: Place the julienned onions, chayote, carrots, radish and chopped celery leaves into a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the minced jalapeño (reserve the rest for the turkey), lime juice, salt, pepper and sugar. Pour over the vegetables, tossing to coat well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cook the turkey: Heat an 8- or 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and once shimmering, toss in the onions. Sautee for 2 minutes, stirring often. Toss in the reserved jalapeño and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the cumin and coriander, stirring to coat well. Add the ground turkey, breaking it up with a spatula. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the meat and cook, stirring often and breaking up some of the larger chunks with a spatula. For added texture, leave some pieces bigger than others. Cook until the liquid evaporates and some of the meat starts to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Stir in the water and cook an additional 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. 

To serve: Place two to three tablespoons of the turkey mixture in the center of a lettuce leaf. Top with the slaw. Serve immediately. 

Check back Friday for the third installment of this three-part series on heart-healthy recipes sponsored by Smart & Final. 

* First Street is a Smart & Final store brand. 

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Smart & Final by way of a gift card to purchase groceries. To help offset the cost of recipe development and post-production, I occasionally enter into collaborations with brands I use and trust. Only products and ingredients that I use in my own kitchen and serve to my family are recommended here on Confessions of a Foodie. I will also often make specific brand recommendations in my posts even when there is no sponsorship involved because I want you, my readers, to be able to duplicate my results. For transparency, however, sponsored posts will always be identified. 

Part 1: Quick Mexican Chipotle Black Bean Soup

Until next time, friends ... xo, ani


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