For a student in culinary academy, crudites are an exceptionally simple dish. After all, you just need to clean and trim some vegetables, perhaps give them a light blanching, and serve on a platter with a tasty dip. However, it’s the execution that makes all the difference.
When done right, crudites can be far more than an afterthought of an appetizer. With some thought and creativity, a plate full of veggies is an attractive and delicious addition to the table. Follow these tips to create a crudites platter that will have people excited to dig in:
1. Choose your vegetables with care
“Provide a variety of flavors, colors and shapes.”
Making a quality platter starts with the vegetables you choose. It’s vital to pick the freshest possible specimens and provide a variety of flavors, colors and shapes. Of course, a pickled vegetable or two can make a nice addition as well, so plan to prepare these ahead of time.
The best options for a crudites platter are vegetables that are perfectly suited for dipping. Serious Eats suggested asparagus, bell peppers, artichokes, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, green beans, radishes and cucumbers. Throw in the leaves of some small, crisp lettuces, such as baby romaine, as well.
2. To blanch or not to blanch
The word “crudite” means “rawness,” but that doesn’t mean all your vegetables have to be completely uncooked. Many of the items commonly included on the plate will benefit from being blanched. Giving parsnips, broccoli, asparagus or snap peas a quick dip in boiling water and then placing them in cold water will optimize their color and texture.
3. Add flair to your dip
A creative, flavorful dip takes all those fresh veggies to the next level. Saveur suggested a creamy watercress dip made with cottage cheese, lemon juice, mayonnaise, chives and parsley. Alternatively, you may opt for a roasted carrot and white bean dip.
Place chopped carrots on a baking sheet, and toss them with garlic, rosemary, canola oil, salt and pepper. Set the sheet in an oven set to 400 degrees Fahrenheit to cook for 20 minutes. Remove the rosemary sprigs before placing the carrot mixture in a food processor with cannellini beans and ground coriander. Add more salt and pepper and puree.
4. Make your ice nice
Ice keeps the crudites tasting their best until they are devoured. When nicely arranged, it can also add to the dish’s appearance. Crushed ice is a common choice, and it looks great when elegantly arranged around the vegetables.
However, you can get more inventive with the ice if you prefer. Bon Appetit pointed out that a mold allows you to create a frozen dish for serving the crudites. Line the bowl with lemon to keep items from sticking, and set the container on a bed of salt to absorb water as it melts, keeping it in place.
5. The finishing touches
The aesthetic flair doesn’t have to stop at ice. The combination of colorful vegetables, selection of a dish, use of garnishes and presentation of the dipping sauce all add to the experience of the crudites. The perfect arrangement will draw the interest of diners and make the platter a fantastic addition to any table.
A student working toward a culinary arts certificate online develops the skills to make many complex dishes. However, the simplicity and beauty of a carefully prepared crudites platter can add a great deal to a dinner or gathering. Pay a visit to the produce section and find the perfect arrangement of flavors, colors and textures to show off just how impressive raw vegetables can be.