Introduction: Belgian Endive Barges With Cargoes of Red Gold Tunisian Salad.

About: I live in a forest garden by the sea in an old Celtic longhouse in the Baie de Mont Saint Michel, France, which I share with Andy and our poultry. Before I escaped and became a happy peasant, I had three jobs …

There are so many descriptions in literature of famous cargoes, river barges and sail boats filled with gorgeous jewels and silks, gold and peacocks. Perhaps the most well known are Shakespeare's description of Cleopatra's meeting with Mark Antony on the Nile and the historic voyage of the Queen of Sheba or Saba to meet with King Solomon. Here I take my inspiration from both to create something that is fun and delicious for a party or picnic

I always like to use fruit in my salads but here is a variation on the classic Tunisian salad that uses only fruit and furthermore, two that are refreshingly light and juicy and a great foil to the crisp Belgium endive.

How to serve salad, particularly on a buffet or picnic, is always problematic, so filling these individual boat-shaped leaves with a rich cargo, seemed to be ideal.

As I always think of cookery as another branch of the Arts, here's a piece of poetry to complement the dish:

Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.
Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amethysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

John Masefield's 'Cargoes'

Step 1: A Foreword About Endive De Pleine Terre

There are two ways of growing Belgium endive with the familiar one being to regrow or rather to force the chicons indoors. It is usual to place the tap roots, with the tops cut off, in a free-draining pot or similar (I use an old stainless steel washing machine drum) and cover with a dark cloth or tarpaulin. This produces pristine white/gold, or if I use radicchio, beautiful red and white striped Belgium endive.

The other way is to cut off the tap roots and replant outdoors and cover with a layer of soil and then a tarpaulin. Many people don't like this idea as endive de pleine terre (chicory grown outdoors), as they are known here, are often sold in their natural unwashed state to differentiate them from the other kind. This is a shame because actually they are much sweeter than the indoor kind and as they are smaller, eminently suitable for use in the above recipe!

Step 2: Ingredients

All my ingredients are organic

For the Barges

(makes 20)

20 Belgium endive leaves (de pleine terre if possible) to get good size leaves this is equivalent to 2 - 3 chicons

2 - 3 small oranges or mandarins

The seeds and arils aka juicy outer seed casing from 1 small pomegranate

10-15 pistachio nuts

For the Vinaigrette

2 dessert spoons of avocado oil (or oil of your choice)

1 dessert spoon of balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon raw cane sugar (rapadura)

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon paprika

Extra spice for decorative sprinkling

Step 3: Method

Place the leaves on a plate or serving dish.

Slice the peeled oranges finely (10 slices per orange if possible) and cut each slice into half.

Place two halves in each of the 'barges'.

Add the pomegranate and the finely chopped pistachios to the cargo (reserving some of the latter for later).

Mix the ingredients of the vinaigrette together.

Put a little vinaigrette into each of the barges.

Sprinkle the remaining spice and nuts over the whole dish and serve immediately.

Otherwise keep chilled but add the sprinkle of spices just before you bring the dish to the table.

All that needs to be said now is Bon Appėtit!

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