Sunday, February 10, 2008

Cacao Nib Vinaigrette and Bell Pepper Salad

Chocolate has long been seen to have a calming effect on women everywhere. When my mom went back to work all the younger men knew to bring her a piece of chocolate. Every day. They also called her "Your Highness", but don't ask me how that got started. They're engineers. What can I say?

When the Brain hurt himself, (he's hanging in there and appreciates all the good wishes), I went to the grocery store and stocked up on chips and Chef Boyardee and the various "boy" foods that he likes. I also stocked up on 2 bars of Ghirardelli chocolate, a bar of Hershey Cacao Reserve dark chocolate with nibs, and a Dagoba Xocolatl bar. I knew that at some point in the 3-6 weeks it will take for him to be more comfortable and 8-12 weeks for the pain to go away that I will need some chocolate.

Chocolate has also long been considered an aphrodisiac. The Aztecs thought it invigorated men and made women less inhibited. Chocolate contains Phenylethylamine and Seratonin which both make you feel happy. They cause rapid mood change, a rise in blood pressure, increased heart rate and an energy boost. Wheeee. Perfect for some hanky panky.

Chris at Mele Cotte is hosting a blog event about aphrodisiacs used in appetizers, side items or dinner dish to celebrate Valentine's Day. And I'm coming in right under the wire with only 2 hours left until the deadline. I've heavily borrowed from a couple recipes in The Essence of Chocolate by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg (which is an unbelievably cool book that explains all about chocolate making and the cacao plant and has some gorgeous photos), to come up with a Cacao Nib Vinaigrette. Then because I figured salad dressing isn't really a side item, appetizer, or dinner dish, I made a yellow bell pepper salad. A really easy yellow bell pepper salad. And although this salad and vinaigrette won't necessarily make you rip your clothes off, it's pretty tasty.

And where did I get Cacao Nibs? Why I got them on a trip up to Ann Arbor at Morgan and York, one of my favorite places to shop while I'm there. I've heard they are also available at gourmet shops from Scharffen Berger. But we don't have any gourmet shops in this county.

Cacao Nib Vinaigrette

5 scallions sliced thin
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp cacao nibs, coarsley chopped
1/2 cup olive oil

Mix the scallions and balsamic vinegar and let sit for 15 minutes. Stir in cacao nibs and then slowly whisk in olive oil. Makes 3/4 cup.

Yellow Bell Pepper Salad

1 yellow bell pepper
2 Tbsp Cacao Nib Vinaigrette
Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Slice the yellow bell pepper into thin stips. Toss with vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I told you it was easy.


glamah16 said...

Very interesting combo. Ive been wanting to get some cocao nibs and play. Now that your infused with the chocolate take it easy on your recovering husband.:-).

Bellini Valli said...

I agree with Glamah....and eat plenty of chocolate :D

Emiline said...

Cacao vinaigrette? YES!
This will get people to eat their veggies.

Sorry about your hubz. Do enjoy all of that chocolate you bought.

I think I'm going to pick up a bar next time I'm at the store.

LisaRene said...

I would never have thought of cacao nib vinaigrette and salad. What fun!

Mrs. White said...

The salad looks delicious and all, but I've been meaning to comment on how gorgeous your china is. I'm jealous!

Chris said...

Looks delicious! I was wondering if anyone was going to bring chocolate into the savory. Thanks for participating with such a great salad.

anna said...

so creative! no joke, i dreamt about this dish last night. don't remember the context of the dream, but i definitely was eating this in the dream. you make dreamy dishes! :) take care of your hubby, eat up, and take care of you.
p.s. made the peanut butter chocolate cookies and brought them to Bible study tonight - HUGE hit! thanks!

Mrs. W said...

Brilliant. I've seen cocoa nibs around and since I don't eat sugary sweets I wasn't sure what else I could do with them... this looks lovely.

Ann said...

What an inspired idea!

SweetDesigns said...

Looks Wonderful!!!

Angel said...

what exotic ingredients. They look fantastic. Too bad we don't have fancy shops like that here.

Ivy said...

Something new to learn. I didn't know that your could make a vinaigrette with cacao nibs. What a nice idea.

Passionate baker...& beyond said...

Beautiful post & great flavours!Would have never crossed my mind!! :0)

Cakelaw said...

An unusual combination - but chocolate in anything has to be good! I wish our engineers would bring me chcolate - sigh ...

Diane said...

omg, this vinaigrette rocks!!! like many people who posted, i've been seeing cacao nibs for some time but never knew what to do with them. i LOVE any dish that mixes sweet & savory (appeals to my risque alter ego, i guess ^ - ~), and this one is a winner. hmmm, maybe i'll put the rest of the nibs in brownies?

hope your hubby is better by now...take care & keep cookin!