About two years ago, on one of my many browsing excursions at Whole Foods, I happened to be there at the right time — “Tasting Hour!” I love when they do this! Basically, they bring in various vendors and set up tasting tables at strategic points in the store: Merlot paired with various cheeses and crackers in the wine area, freshly baked ciabatta with an olive oil dip in the baking section, chocolate truffles with port in the dessert area, etc. The point is to allow the consumer to taste-test various products and introduce them to products/produce they never would have tried. The end result is a happy, satiated consumer and a retail store with increased sales!
In the produce section was a man advertising his salad dressing. I cannot remember what it was called, but he mixed his dressing with some cocktail shrimp and a pico de gallo concoction. He scooped the mix into little boats of Belgian endive and purple radicchio leaves and presented me a sample. I have been hooked since! The flavors all complimented the slightly bitter flavor of the endive and radicchio.
I have introduced friends to this simple dish and they all love it! The “boat fillers” can be anything you create. The leaves are great carriers and guests can simply pick up a serving-size with no extra serving bowls, spoons, or mess. The above picture is of the ingredients I had on hand. You can even use hollowed bell peppers (or squash, pumpkin, apple, or whatever you have on hand) as a serving bowl. I used mine as a cup for cheese sticks.
- 1 red/orange/yellow bell pepper ~ washed and hollowed
- 1 head of Belgian endive ~ carefully remove each leave, rinse, and allow to dry
- 1 organic lemon ~ washed and chopped into small pieces, seeds removed
- 1/2 English cucumber ~ washed and chopped into small pieces
- 1/2 cup cilantro or curly parsley ~ washed and minced
- 1 bag imitation crab meat ~ coarsely chopped
- Garlic Caesar dressing ~ brand does not matter
- salt to taste
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- In a large bowl, combine the lemon, cucumber, cilantro, crab meat, spices and dressing until evenly mixed.
- Spoon the mixture into the leaves and arrange in a circle, on a nice serving platter.
- Place the hollowed bell pepper in the center and fill it with more of the filler for your guests, or put sticks of cheese, celery or other colors of bell peppers.