When entertaining, whether its for a small group of close friends or a party of 30+, I always like to make sure I have an assortment of nibbles that are bright and fresh to go with the standard bread and oil or chips and cheese. Usually guests mean a heavier main course too - and around here, undoubtedly dessert as well - and the ability to have a pop of colour and refreshing coolness is a welcome accompaniment.
This year I was still coming down off my "tomato high" from the summer and knew exactly the app to put out on the table. While most of the fresh tomatoes in the stores are at the gross, mealy winter stage, we're lucky enough to have a greenhouse down the street (and if all else fails, a hydroponic operation a few towns over) which consistently gives us delicious tomatoes that I just had to use. To bump up the flavour even more, I tossed in some diced sundried tomatoes and a few tablespoons of their packing oil, adding a rich sweetness to the mixture. Roasted, rather than fresh, garlic added even more sweetness as well as the classic garlicky flavour without the bite. With all that sweetness, I had to balance it out, and opted for a dash of balsamic and a hit of lemon zest as well as some fresh basil.
Everything sat for a while at room temperature while we went about other preparations for the party, and when we were just about to open the door I spooned it into some lovely endive leaves and garnished each with a sprinkle of briny, perfectly salty sheep's milk feta. Leftovers (only of filling, since it makes a lot) found their way into more spartan, post-holiday meals such as toasted bread (usually challah), whole wheat pasta and plain fish or chicken and rice meals. It is a great low-calorie, low-fat alternative to the butter and cheese-heavy foods we go for in the winter, without tasting like it's cardboard-y diet food.
Shared with Gluten Free Fridays
Rich Bruschetta Endive Cups
- 6 roma tomatoes, chopped
- ½ cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
- 5 cloves minced roasted garlic
- 2 tbsp tomato oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup fresh basil, stems removed
- ¼ tsp Kosher salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 40 leaves Belgian endive