My parents usher in every holiday season with a Tapas & Tertulia evening for some of their closest, most worldly-wise, food-loving friends from a number of Spanish-speaking countries. Tapas are the little dishes that the Spanish nosh on while drinking small glasses of beer or wine. A tertulia is a convivial gathering – of intellect or music or literature or other sociable human tricks.This evening is one I always look forward to; the conversation is wide-ranging and stimulating, the laughter hearty and the appreciation of food is foremost.
While searching for something new for the cold course, I found this in Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain, by Penelope Casas, a hero of Spanish cuisine in America and a longtime inspiration around here. The endive makes a handy tray for the salmon, while salmon is made mild by the lemon dressing. One of my adaptations was to add capers, a natural for this combination, both as flavor and visual punctuation. Very pretty, very fresh, very handy, very, very fast and easy!
Please look at the photo and know that endive can mean any of several members of the Compositae family of chicories: escarole, chicory itself and radicchio, for example. Belgian endive (Chicorium intybus) is the one you want here. It looks like a tightly closed tulip; you cut off the bottom and take off the scoop-shaped petals, one by one.
Smoked Salmon and Endive Scoops (Endívias con salmón)
4 oz smoked salmon, sliced into strips
12 Belgian endive leaves, clean and unblemished
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1.5-2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper (white, if you’ve got)
Approximately 50 small capers, drained
Lay a piece of salmon on each of the endive leaves. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and pour over the filled endive leaves. Scatter capers over each scoop (3-4 per scoop). Serve immediately or keep chilled (for no more than an hour as they can start to dry out).