Sunday, March 27, 2011

"En-DIVE Right Into These Salads"

Endive "Salads"  (Serves 8 Guests)

I've learned that the best way to get my husband to eat more salad is to make them interesting.  I try, every single day, to make my salads memorable.  Texture, flavor and protein are key!  And, what's better than a salad you can grab with your hand?  For years, I made these endive "salads" with crab, but, more recently, I've modified my existing recipe to include chicken for those allergic to shellfish.  The recipe for the salad filling is exactly the same either way you prepare it with the exception of the main protein.  These are perfect before your main dinner and make awesome hors d'oeurves at cocktail parties.  They make great leftovers and are a wonderful conversation piece when entertaining.  I hope you en-DIVE right in and impress your family and friends with these unforgettable Two Bite Wonders.   

6 large Belgium endives (washed)
2 cans of jumbo lump crab meat (or one package of Perdue Fit & Easy boneless chicken breasts)
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
White wine vinegar
1 lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh dill (optional)

- Chop peppers into very small square cubes. 
- Finely chop 1 of the Belgium endives.
- Drain 2 cans of jumbo lump crab meat.  Then finely chop all of the crab meat.  (Can be subsituted with chicken).
- In a large bowl, blend crab meat, peppers, and endive.
- Add to this bowl the juice of 1 half lemon (fresh juice), a small splash of olive oil and a heaping teaspoon of white wine vinegar.   Toss this salad filling.
- Salt and pepper to taste. 
- Cut bottoms off of the remaining 5 endives, and separate only the largest, most attractive leaves onto a serving plate.
- With a small spoon, scoop the salad filling into each of the endive leaves.  The leaves sometimes tip, so be creative with plating or place each one tightly against another.
- If serving these at a party, I always garnish with fresh dill or rosemary.  Enjoy!!

(If using chicken instead of crab, simply cook the chicken in a skillet on medium high heat until cooked all the way through.  Usually about 4 minutes on each side.  Do not boil the chicken because it becomes fibrous and will not chop well.  Once cooked, refrigerate it until cold and then chop it into small square cubes.  Remember to allow the chicken to get to room temperature before chilling.  If you are feeling bold and decide to make a mix of crab and chicken "salads" to accommodate anyone with a food allergy, always remember to use different mixing bowls, utensils and serving plates!)

It is always ideal to prepare the salad filling the night before to allow the acids to work their magic.  Also, place the endive in the freezer up to 30 minutes before slicing to make a crispier crunch and to prevent wilting upon serving.   Taste the salad filling before you scoop it into the leaves.  It should pack a nice punch and be quite savory.  If necessary, add the remaining juice from the half lemon and a splash of white wine vinegar with a little salt and pepper to taste.  If in a time crunch, you can use Perdue Short Cuts (original style) for the chicken salad, but I find it can be stubborn in absorbing the acids.  Finally, any leftover salad filling (crab or chicken) is absolutely delicious on bread for sandwiches or scooped up onto pita chips.  I've even toted the filling in a tupperware and eaten it plain when on the go during my busy day.  It lasts up to 7 days in the refrigerator.  What a time saver!  That's a win for the working woman ... or the busy mom!

Real Meals for the Working Woman

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