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Raw-some Ideas for Your Veggie Platter

Carrots, celery…celery and carrots. Maybe a few cherry tomatoes and raw broccoli florets thrown in for good measure. There’s no wonder the crudité platter is so often left to languish on the party buffet while the other appetizers disappear. Yet with just a little bit of planning and not a lot of extra effort, you can create a veggie platter that will amaze guests, delight the eyes, and nourish the body. Here are some “raw-some” ideas for upping your produce platter prowess:

  1. Crudité “Shots”: Bring your veggies and dip together in individual portions by filling the bottom of shot glasses with dip or hummus and nesting a few carrot sticks, celery stalks, cucumber spears etc. in each. Visually appealing, this approach offers added benefits of saving guests from having to juggle food and cuts down on worries about germs spread from communal dip.
  2. Stuffed crudités: Instead of placing your veggies into a dollop of dip, place a dollop of dip inside your veggies. Slice a crisscross into the top of a grape or cherry tomato and stuff. Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene whose many potential benefits include lower risk of osteoporosis, lower risk of prostate cancer, and even sunburn protection. The healthy fat in dip makes this carotenoid and other nutrients easier to absorb.
  3. Crudité-kabobs: Simple wooden skewers can also help grazers get a handle on how to eat crudités. Cherry tomatoes, broccoli florets, button mushrooms, interspersed with rounds of cucumber, golden squash…the options are as limitless as your imagination. For added ease and visual interest you can anchor skewers into a base made from the overturned top of a cabbage or even half a melon.
  4. Be a Cut Up: Use smaller-size cookie cutters on bell peppers, carrots, and zucchini to create fun shapes that can then be arranged in patterns, or interspersed with stalks or florets for variety. Turn your yellow peppers into stars, red peppers into hearts, and carrots into flowers which can then be popped into celery stems with parsley leaves.
  5. Fill in the Blanks: To create a look of abundance, use red cabbage leaves, kale or other leafy green to cover empty holes. If you run out of vegetables and filler, don’t be afraid to add fruit — a bunch of grapes, figs or kumquats. This is not an either-or equation — the best way to make a memorable platter is to mix it up!
  6. Tap into your artistic inspiration: Create Trees in a Broccoli Forest by putting carrots side-by-side to create the trunks. Then cluster broccoli florets around tops of the carrots like tree tops. Add cherry tomatoes as sunshine near the top of the plate. Or turn asparagus spears into magic wands, as our young chef does in this children’s cooking video: CLICK HERE.

Don’t put all your effort into creating a wow-worthy veggie platter only to lose steam on the dip — too often you’ll see a beautiful display that’s sadly centered around a plastic cup of pre-fab, gelatinous goop that looks anything but healthy or appetizing. Serve up a flavorful bean-based dip like hummus, one made from avocados, or a freshly made salsa.

Published September 1, 2014

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