Papaya Lettuce Wraps

by Dr. Hennie Fisher
Papaya Lettuce Wrap

It is not only people suffering from diabetes and other lifestyle diseases who could benefit from restricting their carbohydrate intake. In fact, cutting back on our consumption of carbs could possibly assist in alleviating many adverse effects caused by our diets in healthy people as well. As we all know, cutting back on carbs is not that easy; they are all so deliciously comforting, and they provide a level of satisfaction that any old replacement cannot easily achieve. Is there anything better than a slice of warm freshly baked bread and butter? Part of the problem could be that the food we eat in place of carbohydrates is rarely as satisfying. It is therefore good to have a few recipes up your sleeve that are not only good in terms of satisfaction and pleasure, but equally good in terms of nutrition and health. These wraps, without carbs, are such an example. They are somewhat complicated to fold, but once you have the hang of it, it should be no problem.

The cream cheese mix below is the vehicle for all the seasoning of the whole wrap, so be generous. You could amend the cream cheese by adding in some hot sauce or a little smoked paprika, etc. The recipe lists suggested veggies and protein, but feel free to add your favourites such as sliced avocado.

These are ideal as picnic food. The wraps fit very nicely into those paper food bags that one cuts into a triangle. You could also serve them as a starter to a meal, although they are somewhat messy to eat by hand and are perhaps better enjoyed outside or around the pool.

Ingredients for 8 medium-sized ‘wraps’ – two per person ideal for a starter:

For the cream cheese spread:

200 spreadable full fat cream cheese
2,5 ml (½ teaspoon) salt
2,5 ml (½ teaspoon) freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, smeared into a paste using the salt
45 ml (3 tablespoons) finely chopped fresh parsley
Zest of 1 lemon, and juice of ½ lemon
30 ml (2 tablespoons) finely chopped additional fresh herbs, such as tarragon, chervil, sorrel
15 ml (1 tablespoon) good quality olive oil

2 large red peppers, charred, skin removed and divided into 8 pieces
1 large head of iceberg lettuce
200 g cured trout or salmon
8 red radishes, very finely sliced (use a mandoline)
1 medium papaya, cut into thin slices


First make the cream cheese spread. Mix all the ingredients for the spread together. Ensure that the spread is soft, or it will break the lettuce when you try to spread it on the leaves. If the spread remains too thick, add a little more lemon juice and/or olive oil.
Very gently pry the lettuce head apart. Select the 8 largest and best-looking leaves and set aside. When all the remaining ingredients have been prepared and you are ready to assemble, lay the lettuce leaves out on two or more cutting boards (or you can assemble them one by one). The aim is to have a lettuce leaf as large, round and flat as a small dinner plate. Make a cut from the outside to the center of the circle through the lettuce leaf. Now imagine the circle being divided into four quarters. On one quarter, spread an eighth of the cream cheese mixture. Place slices of one radish over the spread. On the remaining three quarters, place the cured fish, the roasted red pepper and a couple of papaya slices. Now fold the quarters over onto themselves to form a triangular packet that is the shape of one quarter of the circle. Finish the remaining packets and enjoy.