You’ve put out a crudités platter at your parties before, right? It almost feels like an obligation. Every party has a veggie platter. It’s right next to the cheese board. However, unlike the cheese board, nobody will touch the veggie platter. Well, there is that one person who is trying to eat a little lighter this holiday season, but they still see this as punishment, a little bit of hell willingly endured to spare a few calories.
When do crudités get eaten. Half an hour before the end of your party, your guests realize that it’s almost time to go and they need to sober up a little bit. Every other bite of food is gone – even the cocktail peanuts you held in reserve just in case – and they’re forced to tuck into the cold, sad vegetables that have been sitting there, all alone, all night, waiting for a little love.
A few years ago I discovered three keys to craveable crudités. Today, my veggies have never gone so quickly. Admittedly not as fast as the Asian Chicken Salad Cups, and no one lines up for them like the Honey Sriracha Chicken and Pineapple Skewers, but I’m refiling them regularly all night long.
So, what’s my secret? Here you go:
- Blanch those veggies. Crisp carrots and radishes are fine as they are, but have you noticed that cauliflower, broccoli, sugar snap peas and asparagus always taste a bit grassy and dry on the palate? A 30 second dip in salted boiling water, following by a quick chill in an ice bath – a large bowl filled with half ice and half water – takes that dry, raw edge off while leaving your vegetables crisp.
- Coordinate your colors: That kaleidoscope of vegetables from orange carrots, red peppers, green broccoli and white cauliflower always manages to look like you picked up a pre-made veggie platter from the grocery store. I like to either choose a color palate – all whites and greens with a highlight of red somewhere, or oranges, reds and yellows displayed in an ombré graduating from the darkest to the lightest tones. Veggies never looked so swank.
- Make the dip: Trust me, you can taste dip that is poured out of a bottle or slopped out of its plastic container. So make your dressing from scratch. If you’re swamped and need to throw the dip together quickly at least take a minute to season that store bought dip with some fresh herbs, a pinch of cayenne and a splash of bright champagne vinegar or lemon juice.
BONUS: Potatoes. Seriously, this is my bonus tip. Find the smallest potatoes you can. Often the grocery store has a bin of little marble-sized ones or you can buy small roasting potatoes. Cook those until just tender and shock them in an ice bath to keep them from getting mushy. The reaction of your guests upon discovering that they can eat potatoes from the veggie platter is priceless. And they will love you forever. Those certainly won’t be around as the party is winding down.
Homemade Green Goddess Dressing
Makes 2 cups
Make mayonnaise or substitute 1 cup pre-made mayo:
- 2 egg yolk
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1-2 tbs lemon juice
- 2 cups vegetable oil like safflower or canola
- Cayenne pepper
- 1 avocado, seed removed and scooped from rind.
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbs tarragon leaves
- 1 tbs chives
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
- Sherry or apple cider vinegar
- Place egg yolks in the bowl of a food processor with mustard and 1 tbs lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds. Slowly drizzle oil into the feed tube starting a few drops at a time and increasing the flow once a thick, creamy sauce has formed. Season to taste with a pinch of cayenne, salt and additional lemon juice.
- Remove and reserve 1 cup mayonnaise for another use, leaving one in the processor. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a splash of vinegar if needed.