Edible Containers. Arguably eco-friendly living at its ultimate finest. Not only are edible containers decorative and clever, they require no clean up or landfill space. What could be better than edible bowls, cups, and even spoons?!
I remember candy rocks as a child. These sneaky imposters tickled me pink every time my mother created an edible landscape with these pseudo pebbles. My culinary adventures went international with the discovery of rice paper-enveloped candies. I've lost count of how many "I'm so hungry I'm gonna eat the wrapper!" tricks I played on unsuspecting friends.
At the time I didn't worry about ozone depletion or fret over the threat of glacial thaw. I was just a kid enthralled with novelty. Today, as a professional caterer, Sweet Basil's bottom line is always on my mind, as well as new and exciting presentation opportunities. In my part of the world, we also care about waste and its impact on the planet; it's simply a part of pristine living behind the redwood curtain. Cutting clean up labor costs while supporting the environment is essential. Edible containers wow our guests, and equally important, they keep costs down and dumpsters empty.
To follow are a few of our favorite edible containers. Bon Appetit!
Of all the digestible tools available for use as edible containers, produce dip containers are perhaps the easiest to master. Start with a simple vegetable/deli platter. Visualize the seasonal produce available, and go from there.
Thai Spicy Peanut Sauce
Hollowed peppers make a simple cup for Thai sweet and spicy peanut sauce. Simply remove the top and seeds from any bell pepper with a flat bottom. Fill, cover with plastic wrap and chill until serving time. Garnish with a leafy celery top.
Cabbages make sturdy containers for ever-popular spinach dip and Ranch dressing. Cut a large "X" across the top, leaving a 1-2" wall around the outside. Make sure the knife point does not puncture the bottom of the cabbage. Next, cut around the X to form a rough circle. Remove the leaves until a large enough well is created to fill with dip.
Artichokes are perfect for hot artichoke dip. Prepare like cabbage, removing the heart of the artichoke to make room for the dip. Cut the stem end to flatten, or secure in a bed of rock salt. Make sure to remove every bit of heart "hair" before filling with dip.
Pineapples make a gorgeous boat for your favorite fruit dip. We love Greek honey yogurt. Choose a whole pineapple with attractive green leaves. Lay it on its side, rotating to find the flattest bottom. Using a bread knife, cut a horizontal slice across the top. Be sure to leave the greenery intact; the goal is to remove a "lid." Using a paring knife, cut around the inside of the pineapple, leaving a 1" wall and 2" floor to hold dip. Scoop out flesh. Fill with dip and cover with top of pineapple. Serve chilled.
Endive is a tiny pale leafy green with sturdy walls and gorgeous presentation options. See attached video for a quick recipe demonstration on Sweet Basil Feta Finger Salads.
Asian Chicken Salad is another crowd pleaser, using butter lettuce rounds and a savory bite size portion of flavorful chopped chicken.
Sweet Basil Crab Louie Finger Salads: Romaine hearts take on a whole new sense of delight when stuffed with crab salad and garnished with deviled eggs. Drizzle with Thousand Island dressing.
Try radicchio and red cabbage for red finger salad bases.
Pesto Tomato Poppers
One of our most beloved finger salads is also the simplest. Halve Campari tomatoes and lightly shake out the seeds. Fill with your favorite pesto. Garnish with shredded Romano Cheese. Serve at room temperature.
The quintessential edible container must be sour dough bread. Clam chowder melting into the walls of a mini sour dough bread bowl evoke images of cozy winter dinners and warm tummies. Other creative soup bowls include winter squash and assorted pumpkins. For a hearty family style meal, prepare a beef stew in a large pumpkin, roasted in the oven. For a clever appetizer or first course, hollow out mini pumpkins and serve a wonderful autumn bisque.
Fruit Bisque: scoop out a honeydew melon and fill with your favorite chilled fruit smoothie. Garnish with a yogurt swirl, fresh berries and mint.
Gazpacho: carefully top a sturdy heirloom tomato and fill it with cooling gazpacho. Garnish with fresh basil. Serve immediately.
Saving the environment with dessert? Well, that's another article entirely. Stay tuned next time for sculpted chocolates and other edible containers.