This salad makes a great appetizer for dinner parties or holiday meals.  The flavors are bright and tangy, and it’s both quick to make and very beautiful.  Be sure to use Belgian endive leaves that have a lot of magenta to them for the strongest visual effect.  I have adapted this recipe somewhat; the original comes from a thoughtful cookbook on healthy eating in which all of the dishes are organized according to color.  This was listed under the “Autumn” section of “Purple and blue,” along with recipes involving purple cabbage, capsicum, figs, grapes, currants, and eggplant.  This serves four.

You will need:

  • 2 heads purple-tipped Belgian endive, leaves removed and rinsed
  • 4 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 lb. fresh or thawed lump crabmeat
  • 1 T minced fresh tarragon
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp chopped capers
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.  Chill four salad plates.  Arrange three or four endive leaves on each plate.  Coarsely chop the rest of the leaves and toss them into loose beds atop the arrangements.

2.  Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and season to taste – 2 or more healthy shakes of Tabasco, and a single shake of Worcestershire ought to be enough.  Some measure hot sauce by the drop; I like to overdo it.  Only mix until well combined – too much handling can make the crabmeat mushy.

3.  Divide the crab mixture equally between the plates and mound it up on the piles of endive.  Crack some more pepper over the top, or sprinkle with paprika and more lemon juice. 

Serve immediately.  This pairs well with hot crusty bread and olive oil for dipping, and with minerally white wines, such as some Pinot Grigios.  Follow up with warmer fare, like soup with dumplings or mushroom ragout and polenta.

Purple Belgian Endive and Crab Salad
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