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The Perfect Crudite Plate

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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

Learn how to build the perfect crudite plate

Learn how to build the perfect crudite plate

What Is a Crudite?

I know a few of you might be puzzling over this word. What is a crewd-ight? Perhaps it's a new word for you. Here's the dictionary definition:

crudités

[kroo-di-tay; French kry-dee-tay]

  1. an appetizer consisting of a variety of raw vegetables, usually cut into strips or bite-size pieces, and served with a dip.

My mom's veggie platters—and most that you will find at your local grocery store deli—consisted of baby carrots (which aren't young carrots at all, just old carrots pared down to bite-size), celery sticks, and (with luck) some pale tasteless cherry tomatoes. We can do better than that. Let's get started!

“My parents had drinks and there were crudités for us—although they were not called crudités at the time, they were called carrots and celery.”

— Nora Ephron

"Baby" carrots and celery sticks. No, this isn't what we want

"Baby" carrots and celery sticks. No, this isn't what we want

Choose Fresh Vegetables That Are in Season

Most large grocery stores carry a wide assortment of fresh produce 365 days of the year, but not all of it is truly fresh. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, during the winter months you might very well be consuming fruits and vegetables from halfway around the globe or local produce that has been held in cold storage for weeks and weeks.

For the freshest, most flavorful foods, try to stick to a seasonal produce calendar.

SeasonSeasonal VeggiesSeasonal Fruits

Winter (Dec.-Mar.)

Broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes, radishes

Grapefruit, oranges, papayas, pears, tangelos

Spring (Mar.-Jun.)

Asparagus, spring peas, zucchini

Pineapples, cherries, mangoes, strawberries

Summer (Jun.-Sept.)

Cucumbers, green beans, peppers, tomatoes

Bllueberries, apricots, canteloupe, mangoes, peaches, watermelon, plums, raspberries

Autumn (Sept.-Dec.)

Cauliflower, green beans, spinach, broccoli

apples, figs, persimmons, grapes, oranges, pears

"Crudites are not just a haphazard bowl of cut-up carrot and celery sticks. They are closer to a good still life, an artful edible exhibit."

— Martha Stewart, "Entertaining," 1982

Make One or Two Amazing Dips/Sauces

Most grocery store deli platters are accompanied by a hefty cup of ranch dressing. That's fine; I have no complaint with ranch. In fact, I devoted an entire article on ranch dressing a year ago. But, there are so many other possibilities.

There are so many creative ways to design a crudite plate and the dip/sauce shouldn't be an after-thought. It's a part of the whole wonderful plan. You can create a dip with a specific color, or flavor profile, or ethnic theme in mind.

To get you started (and away from ranch dressing for a moment) I've two recipes to share with you. The first is creamy, herby, and slightly spicy with fresh garlic. The second is vegan and dairy-free, slightly sweet, and smoky with roasted red bell peppers.

Tzatziki: The Greek Food With an Indian Heritage

The word tzatziki derives from the Persian word zhazh, meaning herb mixture. Like pita bread, it seems that in Greece the yogurt/cucumber sauce appears on every table every day. To learn the history of this condiment, I went to The Greek on Wheels, which tells us:

A long time ago, when the Ottoman Empire was still in full trading swing, India was enjoying the simple pleasures of raita sauce, a seasoned yogurt-based dip. During this time, the Indian people were ruled by an elite Persian class that enjoyed the North Indian rice dish known as biryani.

However, the Indians would make the rice dish too spicy for the palette of the Persian elite. To balance out the fire of the spices, the Persians began to enjoy the soothing taste of the raita sauce. Cool as cucumber and soothing as yogurt, this classic Indian sauce was the perfect solution to the spicy rice.

When the Persians went back to the Middle East, they took the raita dish with them, and the beguiling sauce entranced culinary aficionados. More than any other nation in the Ottoman Empire, the Greeks enjoyed this dish immensely. However, they also experimented with this classic cucumber and yogurt dip until its Indian roots were almost invisible. Tzatziki was born.

So, tzatziki and raita are culinary cousins, but where they differ is in the fresh herbs and spices used. Raita (a recipe is here) is flavored with cilantro and, typically, garam masala. Tzatziki relies on dill weed, fresh lemon, and a touch of garlic stirred into the creamy yogurt/cucumber mix.

Tzatziki Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 English cucumber, diced small
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (don't use table salt)
  • 2 cups plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste (don't use table salt)

Instructions

  1. First, prepare the cucumber by removing the seeds. Slice it lengthwise and use the tip of a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds. Dice finely (1/4 is perfect), toss with the 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt and place in a colander. Allow to drain for 30 minutes (the salt will help to draw out the water in the cucumber).
  2. After the 30-minute rest, squeeze the cucumber to remove as much liquid as possible (don't rinse off the salt).
  3. Combine the prepared cucumber with the yogurt, garlic, lemon zest and juice, fresh dill, chives, and black pepper. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.
  4. Cover and chill for about an hour before serving.

Vegan Roasted Red Pepper

Roasted red bell peppers in the jar are sweet and smokey, they taste nothing like raw peppers, and they're also ridiculously expensive. Here's a new trick to add to your repertoire in the kitchen—you can roast your own red bell peppers. Aysegul shows you how in this beautifully-photographed post and then helps you turn them into a brightly colored roasted red pepper dip that's full of vitamins A and C and as a bonus is vegan.

Use an Imaginative Foundation/Platter

You don't need to go to a specialty kitchen shop to purchase a platter for your crudites. Here are some suggestions of what you can use (I'll bet you have one or more of these in your pantry):

  • breadboard
  • paella pan
  • marble slab for rolling pastry
  • shallow rimmed baking sheet
  • serving tray
  • various sized Mason jars/jelly jars (one for each veggie item)

Color

I've found several examples of creative ways to arrange a crudite platter. For example, you might consider vegetables in one color family, or select an assortment that can be arranged like the colors of the rainbow.

Think ombre

Think ombre

Emerald Green

Martha Stewart assembled this lovely green platter with ingredients that are easy to obtain, inexpensive, and beautiful in their simplicity. Expand on the amounts for a larger crowd, or make a small plate-for-two to share with someone special. The tzatziki dip would be a perfect accompaniment.

Violet veggies (even the hummus dip is purple)

Violet veggies (even the hummus dip is purple)

Vivid Violet

In the words of its creator, this spooky platter would be a "violaceous" violet Halloween appetizer. Not only is purple/violet a delightfully sinister hue, but the fruits and vegetables needed for this platter are in season in the Autumn when days are short and the shadows of the evening are deep and dark. Castellon's purple crudite and cheese tray will make a stunning display at your Halloween party.

Crudite platter in a rainbow of colors

Crudite platter in a rainbow of colors

Rainbow Platter

Learn how to make hummus dips in four different colors and serve them with some of these vegetables, sorted by color:

  • Red/Orange: Red cabbage, radishes, rainbow carrots (assortment of burgundy and orange)
  • Yellow/Cream: Rainbow carrots (yellow), parsnips, cauliflower, white radishes, Belgian endive
  • Greens: Romaine lettuce hearts, cucumber, green onions, broccoli rabe

Theme

The "vivid violet" board shown above is one theme (dark, spooky, and Halloween-ish) but there are so many other possibilities. Here are a few suggestions.

Greek party platter

Greek party platter

Greek

I know that I can always rely on Chunguh's blog (Damndelicious) to provide beautifully photographed, easy-to-make, and delicious meals. Her mezze platter features all of the elements of a perfect Greek meal—olives, artichoke hearts, cucumber, tomato, and (of course) a hummus dip.

Italian

Bagna cauda is truly Italian and truly delicious; this dip (served hot) is an overindulgence, a guilty pleasure, and something you need to try at least once in your life. It's customary as part of a New Year's celebration, rich with melted butter and heavy cream, spicy with raw garlic (lots of raw garlic), and full of explosive umami flavor with tinned anchovies that melt and blend into the sauce.

The Mediterranean diet abounds with wonderful vegetables—broccoli rabe, artichokes, olives, celery, mushrooms, radicchio, fennel, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant.

Asian dip and veggie platter

Asian dip and veggie platter

Asian

East meets West in this fusion of the Asian flavors of ginger and soy sauce in a creamy mayonnaise-based dip. Rita pairs this easy recipe with snow peas or sugar snap peas, carrot, cucumbers, broccoli florets, and red peppers sliced into strips. This Asian dip and veggie platter takes just minutes to assemble and can be prepared ahead of time.

Sources

© 2021 Linda Lum

Comments

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on April 02, 2021:

Adrienne you are so right about the trend in more healthy eating and that's why I prepared this article. I'm glad you enjoyed it and hope you can use some of the recipes in creating healthy dishes for your friends and family.

Adrienne Farricelli on April 02, 2021:

There's renewed interest in eating healthy and eating raw veggies. I was pleasantly surprised to see more and more veggie-based platters at parties and local festivities. I learned a new term today (crudite') and enjoyed the colorful pictures of veggies and interesting dressings you have posted!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 30, 2021:

Hello my dear Doris aka MizB. I'm so happy to hear from you. Spring is without a doubt my favorite season--not only because everything is coming alive, blooming, budding, growing, but because of all the wonderful fresh new veggies at the produce stand. There's nothing like a real baby carrot (not the old ones pared down to baby size), slender radishes, etc.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on March 30, 2021:

Yum, Linda Lum, where were these delicious looking platters when I was still working. Wouldn't it have been wonderful to serve a big platter of crudites and raita or colored hummus at our Christmas dinner! I tracked down your raita suggestion and just have to try it. As much as I love ranch dressing, I do get a little tired of it sometimes. The colored hummus is interesting, too. Years ago when I was given the suggestion of eating crudites from a trainer at a spa I'd joined, this silly country girl had no idea what a "crude-ite" was. Now I know, thanks to you, how interesting they can be.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 29, 2021:

HI Denise. My daughter and I will be making hummus later this week (to use up the last of the tahini we did a couple of weeks ago). I'm glad you liked this (and were able to FIND it for goodness sake!). Thanks for commenting. Love to you.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on March 29, 2021:

Wow, what wonderful recipes and ideas. I love the tzatziki idea. I must make that soon. I have tons of hummus recipes but only just heard about this one and how to pronounce it. Now that I have a recipe I can make it! Yeah!

Blessings,

Denise

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 29, 2021:

Peggy, I don't think I've ever seen "The Kitchen." I'll check it out. Thanks.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 29, 2021:

We watched an old rerun of The Kitchen on TV this morning. One of the episodes portrayed 3 different crudite platters. One of them looked almost like the one you showed with the rainbow of colors.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 29, 2021:

Ann, we eat first with our eyes, don't we? I think even the fussiest eater (Bill Holland, are you listening?) would be enticed by these. We are planning a Greek feast later this week. I might even attempt making my own pitas. Stay tuned!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 29, 2021:

Pamela, I knew I would hear from you this morning. I'm happy that you enjoyed this and thank you for your support.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 29, 2021:

Dora, with Spring weather my thoughts tend to gravitate toward fresh veggies, tender new carrots and such. I'm glad you enjoyed this article.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 29, 2021:

Manatita, avocado and peppers--yes, of course we can do that. I adore avocado but oh my they are so very pricey where I live. Your kind words make me smile (and are far better than what I have written).

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 29, 2021:

Dear Bill Holland, you are a hopeless case but I still love you.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 29, 2021:

Oh my! Veggies and dip???? I suppose I could just eat the dip. lol How about throwing in some crackers for your old friend? ;)

manatita44 from london on March 29, 2021:

A truly exotic, scholarly, mouth-watering and exquisite display of culinary cinematography. Simply the best! I took a ride on the tree of food and knowledge, travelled around Greece, India and other historical kitchens, tasting and feasting prior to returning home. You're up there with my Spanish friend! Dope!

Anyway, where's the avocado and peppers? Lovely article!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 29, 2021:

Excellent! This presentation is among my favorites. and I really love the rainbow colored platter. Thank you for sharing such healthy creativity, I'll be back for the dips.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 29, 2021:

There are certainly many creative, colorful choices of dips and vegetables for crudites. We have always filled platters similar to these (not as colorful) for many holidays when we have a crowd. We cut up fresh vegetables, but us a good blue cheese dip or something like that. You have given me many more ideas.

This is an excellent article that I will mark for further use. Thank you, Linda.

Ann Carr from SW England on March 29, 2021:

This is great. We love crudités and often have some in the summer time with a variety of dips (of which my favourite is avocado). The French do them well, of course, but we haven't been there for a while - boo, hoo! I'm hoping the summer will also allow us to visit and sample our French friends' excellent cuisine again. In the meantime, I can get back to salads and these sort of things.

The colour here is wonderful. It's what makes the dish isn't it? Thanks for a great display, Linda.

Ann

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 28, 2021:

Hi Flourish. From your comments I'm guessing you enjoyed this one. Thanks

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 28, 2021:

I love the color and it’s always good to have a dip handy! Good thing you helped folks out with the pronunciation!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 28, 2021:

John, let's see, if I'm in Spring you must be head-long into Autumn. Hmmm, carrots and other root veggies, apples, and pears? Pair those with a good aged cheese and a hunk of bread and (in my mind) you have a perfect meal. Thanks for commenting.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on March 28, 2021:

Yes, Linda, these look much more appetising than boring carrot and celery sticks. Fresh in-season vegetables are prefect. Of course it is really the dip accompaniment that makes these dishes. Thank you for sharing.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 28, 2021:

Audrey, I think any time I can prepare something "ahead of time" is a plus in my book. I'm glad you liked this.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on March 28, 2021:

Crudite. A new addition to my limited vocabulary. Pretty exciting. I can sure use this array of recipes. The added photos are inviting. Asian flavors are my favorite so the Asian dip will come in handy. Thanks for offering a recipe to prepare ahead of time.

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