This alluring, easy-as-pie appetizer recipe has a way of putting everyone into a festive mood and quickly attracting guests to the holiday table to scramble for a taste! And there are infinite ways to decorate the tree, while having fun.
Choose bright colored veggies and cut them into different shapes and sizes to create this very flavorful starter. Because people come to a holiday gathering ravenously hungry, they’ll appreciate this ready-to- serve appetizer that can be prepared several hours ahead or even a day ahead. The recipe comes from my Vegan for the Holidays cookbook.
If you have children who love to participate in the kitchen, create the basic green pea recipe and form it into a tree shape. Then, chop up a pile of bright colored veggies and let the kids have at it. You might be surprised at the unbridled creativity, while it keeps their eager little hands occupied for quite some time.
Of course, you can always choose to be the tree decorator and give the kids another task. This tasty holiday appetizer puts yuletide spirit on a plate and unveils your hidden talent as a sculptor and artist. Using nothing more than a spoon, you’ll be able to turn this delicious dip into a dazzling sculpted Christmas tree or even a Christmas wreath that flaunts colorful ornaments you can eat. Make it mildly spiced or crank it up to muy picante with extra jalapeno chiles and a pinch of cayenne.
Not feeling artistic? No problem. Make the pea dip mixture in the food processor, then, simply spoon it into an attractive serving bowl. Sprinkle the top with some of the chopped veggies and serve with the crackers on the side.
Below are some students’ photos of the Jolly Green Christmas Tree taken at cooking classes I teach throughout Los Angeles.
JOLLY GREEN CHRISTMAS TREE
Christmas Tree Dip
1 pound frozen peas, thawed
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons organic sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 to 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Pinch cayenne (optional)
1/4 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced crosswise
1 green onion, white and green parts sliced
1 whole star anise, or 6 whole cloves
Fresh herbs (mint, cilantro, parsley)
- Put the dip ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl.
- Spoon the mixture onto a large platter and use the back of a spoon to form the mixture into the shape of a large Christmas tree. Decorate the tree with wild abandon, using the bell pepper, carrot, green onion, etc. Place the star anise at the top or arrange the cloves into a radiating star, or use herbs at the top. Serve with baked tortilla chips, bean chips, toasted pita wedges, or your favorite crackers.