To be fully transparent here, I have a really, really, really hard time making peace with the cold vegetable platter from Costco. On the unattractive plastic black molded plate thing. That one. That’s served at almost every party (in America). Always.
It just gives new meaning to sad, in my humble opinion. Waxy baby carrots, boring celery pieces, some bland cherry tomatoes, maybe some other things that I have forgotten and, its piece de resistance’ – pathetic, boring Ranch dip. With all due respect, it’s awful.
New catering clients will try to discourage my offering a fresh vegetable platter because no one ever eats it. I get it. I don’t eat the sub-par Costco platter either.
They’ll eat this one, I promise confidently. Hand-cut-and-carved pieces pop because it all looks like a fresh, thriving garden. The lemony-tart, delicious dip is irresistible.
We can all do better than Costco-mediocre. I promise that you can rock this platter this summer and guests will love it. (Vegetarian/vegan guests will love you for it.) It’s way easier than it appears. Get a sharp paring knife, large Chef’s knife, and crinkle cutter ready – you’ve got this.
Carved Crudite Platter, for 8-10
3 large celery stalks, ends trimmed
One medium bowl of iced water
1 small fresh jicama, peeled
3 large carrots, any variety, ends trimmed, peeled
1 large cucumber or 3 Persian cucumbers, ends trimmed
Broccoli florets and/or asparagus spears, optional
Grape, heirloom, or other interesting cherry tomatoes, rinsed, patted dry
Extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt (optional)
Lemon hummus dip (recipe follows)
Make celery fans:
Cut celery stalks into pieces about 2 inches long. Hold piece on thumb, and with sharp paring knife in your other hand ;), make as many close, straight, parallel cuts about 7/8 of the way down the piece, as possible. Place pieces in bowl of iced water, refrigerate until serving. Even an hour later, the pieces will begin to have fanned and are beautiful!
Use crinkle cutter to cut small pieces of sturdy jicama to resemble crinkle-cut fries. Place pieces in zipper bag to stay fresh until serving.
For carrots and cucumber:
With large Chef’s knife, cut thinly on the diagonal for sleek, clean slices. Place pieces in zipper bag to stay fresh until serving.
For broccoli florets and/or asparagus:
Trim ends from vegetables and place in large bowl or pot of boiling water to blanch for about 3 minutes. Remove from water, pat dry, chill until serving.
Lightly pat moisture from vegetables, and artfully arrange as desired. Place Lemon hummus dip bowl in center, or off to the side.
If you’d like, lightly drizzle vegetables with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle lightly with sea salt. This is how cold vegetables are dressed in Tuscany, and it adds a true air of class to this platter.
Lemon hummus dip
Juice and zest of one large, fresh lemon
2 (generous) Tablespoons of tahini *
One fresh garlic clove, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
Up to ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Greek-style plain yogurt (optional)
In blender jar or food processor, place zest, juice, tahini, garlic, cumin, and oil. Once blended, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Stir in desired amount of yogurt to temper and expand portion, add more salt and pepper to adjust seasoning. Transfer to serving bowl. Refrigerate any leftover dip for up to one week.
*Sesame paste; available at Trader Joe’s, most grocery stores, and Middle Eastern markets