How to make a crudité platter ~ from fabulous appetizers to crunchy snacks, raw veggies are healthy, delicious, and so chic!
Crudité platters have come a long way since the wet baby carrots and bottle of ranch days
And that’s a very good thing ~ happy hours everywhere will be the better for it. Cheese platters and hummus plates are slowly giving a up a little real estate to these light and colorful raw veggie spreads. The nice thing about crudité is that just about every vegetable is fair game, and you can go as simple or as elaborate as you like. The best part is ~ no guilt! (Except maybe for that decadent blue cheese dip.)
BEST VEGETABLES FOR A CRUDTÉ PLATTER
- carrots ~ ideally buy them with the greens attached, they’re fresher, sweeter, and more tender than bagged carrots. And don’t forget rainbow carrots, they’re stunning. Peel and cut in thin sticks
- celery ~ tender inner stalks are best, sliced lengthwise. Outer stalks are too stringy. I love to leave a bit of the inner leaves attached.
- bell peppers ~ all colors, but the yellows, oranges, and reds are the sweetest.
- radishes ~ all types of radish from the classic round red to the pretty French breakfast radish and even watermelon radishes work well. Keep in mind radishes can be quite spicy, so slice regular radishes in half or quarters, leaving a little bit of the leafy tip as a handy handle. Larger watermelon radishes can be sliced paper thin on a mandoline.
- cucumbers ~ small pickling or Persian cukes have less seeds and are best for crudité. Don’t peel, and slice in thin sticks.
- zucchini and yellow summer squash ~ source small young specimens, and cut in slender sticks. It’s relatively flavorless so the dip will be key 😉
- cauliflower ~ one of my favorites, just be sure the florets are bite-sized and you leave a bit of stem for a handle. It’s amazing if you can find any of the new colorful varieties like purple, orange, or green!
- broccoli ~ same as above.
- romanesco ~ kind of a cross between cauliflower and broccoli and is eye-poppingly gorgeous on a raw veggie platter.
- asparagus ~ only the very slim fresh stalks, and trim them down
- green onions ~ slender young onions are great raw, but pass on anything past its prime, slimy, or too large.
- beets ~ yes, you can eat beets raw! Cut in fine matchsticks , or slice smaller beets paper thin on a mandoline. If you want to slice larger beets, cut the rounds in half or quarters.
- string beans and waxed beans ~ be sure to use young slim beans, the larger ones can be tough and starchy when raw.
- mushrooms ~ slice them and make sure they’re large enough to dip.
- snap peas ~ one of my favorites!
- jicama ~ another favorite of mine, it’s got the most amazing crunch, just slice it in thin-ish sticks
- cherry tomatoes ~ keep these whole and don’t refrigerate. I sometimes put them on toothpicks for easy dipping.
- endive ~ the crisp little spears of this lettuce are great for dipping.
- baby veggies ~ if you have a very good supermarket or farmers market you may see baby veggies, especially in spring, and they’re perfect for serving raw. You might find summer squash, carrots, Brussels sprouts,
HOW TO PREP RAW VEGETABLES AHEAD
All veggies* can be prepped ahead of time, up to 24 hours ahead. After cutting, cover each variety in very damp (almost wet) paper towels. Then wrap in plastic or put in airtight containers and refrigerate until needed. This will keep them nice and crisp and keep them from drying out.
*THE ONE EXCEPTION: tomatoes which should not be cut or refrigerated, so keep those at room temperature and add just before serving. I only use whole cherry tomatoes in crudité platters, for obvious reasons.
prep a whole platter ahead of time
To really get ahead of the game, you can arrange an entire platter ahead of time. Apply wet paper towels over the entire surface, and then plastic wrap to the whole thing. When you’re ready to serve, remove the wrappings and add your dip to the center.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DIP
There’s no denying, it really is all about the dip. A great tasting dip makes or breaks crudité. A lean dip can double down on the healthy benefits of this appetizer, but a creamy decadent dip can be a wonderful contrast to clean crisp veggies. It’s up to you.
crudité dip rules
The dip really is the icing on the, err, veggies! It caps off the whole experience and makes all that prepping and chopping worthwhile. But there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a dip for a raw vegetable appetizer:
- Keep it thick and creamy. Thin sauces like chimichurri or salsas are too loose and drippy, and won’t cling to your veggie sticks. Thick yogurty tzatziki is perfect, and the radishes above? They’re served with softened butter that’s been blitzed in the blender with fresh tarragon. Easy peasy.
- Consider using a homemade salad dressing as your dip. A fabulous homemade Caesar dressing, or creamy green goddess are great choices.
- Make it smooth rather than chunky because, again, a chunky sauce won’t cling as well to the slick vegetables and will make for an awkward dipping experience.
- Hummus in its infinite variety makes a perfect pairing with crudité. Basil hummus is my current fave.
- Feel free to go for bold flavors ~ the veggies can take it! A boldly flavored dip like my Middle Eastern red pepper and walnut muhamarra or my fire feta dip really wake up a platter of crudité.
- Consider setting out several smaller bowls of dip instead of one big one…this helps ‘traffic flow’.
INDIVIDUALIZE YOUR VEGGIES AND DIP
One of my favorite ways to serve crisp veggies and dip is in individual little cups, it’s perfect for summer gatherings and barbecues because people can mingle and munch at the same time. And since we’re all hyper conscious about hygiene these days, it just makes sense. No more double dipping nightmares!
how to serve crudité in single serve cups
- Your cups should have a wide mouth for easy access.
- Use plastic for outdoor use, but canning type jars work well for indoors.
- Put a generous layer of your dip at the bottom of each cup. Make sure you include enough, you don’t want people running out of dip halfway through their cups!
- Arrange veggies on top.
- Put small cherry tomatoes or radishes on the ends of toothpicks.
- Tip: use the depth of your cup as a guide to cutting your vegetables so they’ll fit nicely.