Saturday, December 5, 2009

Belgian Endive Crab Bites

Tis the season for cocktail parties. Which means it's also the season for overindulgence in rich, buttery, cheesy, creamy appetizers and dips, along with an array of buttery cookies and baked goods. And what's wrong with that? Nothing, really, 'cept sometimes you want something a little lighter.

But by lighter, I don't mean broccoli spears and carrot sticks in an insipid fat-free mayo dip. I mean something naturally light and refreshing and tasty. Because if I have to choose between something tasty that will cause my doctor to cry and something healthy that has no taste, doc, the kleenex are next to the puff pastry. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be an either or dilemma. You can graze the hors d'oeuvre table and eat light, satisfying bites that aren't loaded with butter or cream.

Belgian endive are the perfect vegetable for delivering refreshing bites. They can be filled with any number of toppings and assembled ahead of time. When your guests come, the leaves are still crisp, an advantage over crostini. Also, people feel good about themselves when they eat something in a leaf. Serve chocolate truffles topped with caramel in an endive leaf and people would gobble them up while feeling so good about themselves for getting a vegetable.

The dressing for the salad utilizes kaffir lime pepper jelly, but you could use Thai sweet chili sauce instead. However, I strongly recommend the use of fresh kaffir lime leaves in the salad. They add a very refreshing accent. If you can't find those, you might try finely grated lime zest.

Belgian Endive Crab Bites

Belgian endive (Trader Joe's sells them in packs of three--two green, one red)

crab meat, preferably fresh, picked over to remove any cartilage or shell
red pepper, finely diced
Fuji apple, finely diced (fresh waterchestnuts or jicama could be substituted)
kaffir lime leaves, center vein removed, finely minced

1 TBS kaffir lime pepper jelly (or Thai sweet chili sauce)
1 TBS fish sauce
2 TBS water
lime juice, to taste

Mix crab, red pepper, apple and lime leaves together. Squeeze some lime over salad to keep apple from browning.

Heat jelly (if using) in microwave to liquify. Stir in fish sauce, water and lime juice. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary to have a tart, slightly sweet dressing. Lightly dress the crab salad.

Spoon salad into washed, dried endive leaves. Plate and serve.

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  1. It's beautiful! I like to try your kaffir lime pepper jelly!

  2. Thank you. I think the jelly works well in this dressing.


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