Need suggestions for an interesting veggie/crudite tray
I am preparing a veggie/crudite platter (and dips) for a friend's husband's surprise 60th birthday party. Veggie platters can be so boring -- I really want to make this a tray that people really want to eat.
In the past, I have tried blanching the veggies first -- and I like the way that sets the color and makes them a little more tasty (due to the salted boiling water as well as the softer texture). However, I seem to always use the same boring vegetables: carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, cauliflower and green beans.
Can anyone suggest something else that would work well? CI once suggested adding fingerling potatoes to such a tray. I may try that -- but they will get cold. Is that a problem?
Fingerling potatoes are good cold IMO, but some people may not like them. I love raw fennel and it makes a great dip scoop, but again, it's not for everyone. Multi-colored peppers are always a hit. Asparagus spears (blanched)? Jicama cut into matchsticks? Kale chips (they're too fragile for dipping but they'd make an interesting garnish on their own)? Roasted brussels sprout halves (not everyone likes them cold though)? Endive leaves (great scoopers)?
Oh, great suggestions. I like the idea of fennel - I never thought of serving it raw (so you don't think I should blanch it?) Jicama is a great idea, especially since dinner is Mexican. I tried kale chips once and they were so fragile that they crumbled on me (probably my mistake). Roasted brussel sprouts sound good, too. Thank you!
My veggie plates usually have lots of options- something for everyone. Raw carrots, celery, bell pepper strips, jicama, daikon, fennel, persian cucumber sticks, the smaller inside leaves of romaine hearts. Sometimes I put out raw poblano pepper strips.
Another good option is to skewer some grape tomatoes or olives on mini skewers. Pretty to look at, easy to dip or eat plain.
I think presentation is everything with crudite. I remember seeing some striking presentations and couldn't remember where, so I googled it. Found these right off the bat (one from right here):
Crudite platters are a great opportunity for an explosion of color and texture. You can use the same basic vegetables but trying using romanesco broccoli, pickled oyster mushrooms and purple cauliflower. I might also add a little more sweetness in there with yellow peppers, shaved fennel and pickled beets.
I like to have various foods done various ways, such as raw (i.e. fennel, endive, cukes); grilled (shrooms, radicchio, peppers, leeks, scallions); pickled (green beans, carrots, asparagus); oven roasted (such as red peppers or tomatoes); braised (leeks, cioppolini onions). I also serve marinated feta or goat's cheese and olives including some of the roasted veg and lemon zest. Grill some lemons when you grill other veg - their juice becomes sweeter and is lovely drizzled over veg (i.e. grilled asparagus).