Rainbow Crudités with Fire Feta ~ an oasis of freshness and crunch in a season full of comfort foods and holiday treats, people will flock to this colorful healthy appetizer!
I’ve got a lot of great appetizers in my recipe index, from mini baked Brie wrapped in puff pastry and fried olives with aioli, to a cheesy mushroom bruschetta, just to name a few. But my own personal style, at least during the holidays, is to go super light with my appetizer choices. Want to know what I’m serving this month? It’s this colorful plate of crunchy veggies with a fiery feta dip.
Everything else we’re eating this season is weighing us down, I feel like our appetizers should lift us up!
I think supermarkets everywhere are at the top of their game during the holidays, sourcing the best of everything for picky holiday shoppers. I notice an uptick in the produce section, especially, which inspires me to gather up the freshest veggies for a crudité platter.
Fresh rainbow vegetables come as a really welcome break from heavy seasonal fare, and I love to surprise guests with a big colorful platter. It’s also an easy thing to take with you to parties since there’s no heating or cooking involved. People lunge at it because they’ve been starved for fresh raw veggies.
But no matter how fabulous the veggies, every crudité platter worth its salt has to be grounded by a great dip. Fire feta is perfect because it’s super creamy and has a vibrant flavor, while still being healthy. It’s based on a classic Greek dip made with feta cheese and roasted red peppers; it gets a kick of heat, which you can adjust to your taste, from cayenne pepper. It’s super easy to make, just blitz the ingredients together in a food processor. Be sure to use good quality feta cheese, the kind sold in brine. I always buy imported sheep’s milk feta (domestic feta is usually made from cow’s milk) which I think has the best flavor. The color is a cheery bright orange and makes the perfect centerpiece for your radiating rainbow of veggies.
Tips for a superior crudité platter
- Go beyond carrots and celery. Look for unusual veggies like baby zucchini, watermelon radishes, jicama, and golden beets to add to your assortment. Most veggies can be eaten raw, so get creative.
- Look for young or baby vegetables whenever you can, they make the most tender crudité.
- Think about the color wheel when you arrange your platter, make sure you represent as many colors as you can.
- Gather a variety of textures, from leafy endive to sleek peppers and bumpy cauliflower, it all adds appeal.
- Freshness is key, don’t use old or pre-cut vegetables. I see no reason to blanch or par cook any of the vegetables, I like them crunchy.
- Cut your vegetables into long sticks when possible, or thin slices. Keep small items like radishes whole. Cut them too thick and they’ll be hard to bite, too thin and they flop when you dip them.
- If you want to prep ahead, make sure to cover the vegetables with damp (almost wet) paper towels, and then again with plastic.
- Dips matter (put away that bottle of ranch dressing.) A delicious homemade dip with lots of flavor is the key to turning raw veggies into a satisfying appetizer. Make sure yours is nice and thick, not drippy…nobody want’s messy guests.
Other dips to use with crudité vegetables
- Vivid red Muhammara, a Middle Eastern roasted red pepper and walnut dip.
- Any version of hummus, which has the perfect dipping texture and can be flavored in so many ways ~ check out my 50 Ways to Hack Your Hummus for ideas….
- Creamy Vidalia Onion Dip, which is an updated version of the classic onion soup mix dip.
- Can you use ranch dressing? Sure, just make sure it’s a good one. Splurge on one of the jars in the refrigerated salad section.
Make this Rainbow Crudité with Fire Feta your own
- Can’t take the heat? Make a sweet feta dip using sweet paprika in place of the cayenne.
- Make it vegan using tofu in place of feta.
- Make it uber healthy and low fat ~ use Greek yogurt in place of the feta.
- Fire Feta is utterly delicious with fresh pita bread, or toasted pita triangles, too!
- food processor
- 1 pound block of sheep’s milk feta, sold in brine
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1/4 pound roasted red peppers
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper, more or less to taste
- chopped chives
- Cut the feta in large chunks and add to the bowl of a food processor along with the garlic. Add the red peppers and process until mostly creamy, but still retaining a little texture. I like to pulse the machine for more control.
- Add the cayenne pepper 1/2 teaspoon at a time until it’s just right for your taste.
- Dip can be put in an airtight container and refrigerated for several days.
- Serve garnished with chopped chives.
- Place a bowl of dip in the center of a large platter and arrange crudité around it. I used: French green beans, yellow pepper strips, radishes, baby zucchini, baby scallions, endive, red bell pepper strips, baby cucumber, baby carrots, purple cauliflower, golden beets, and watermelon radish.