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Crudités (pronounced crew-dee-tay) are sliced or whole small vegetables that may make up a first course of a meal, or are more commonly found as appetizers in banquet style eating. They often are served with an appropriate dip—ranch dressing is a popular choice. Vegetable slices, especially for banquets, should be just the size to provide a bite or two, and easy to hold in the hand, or place on a small plate or napkins. Crudités are a great choice when serving appetizers, since they will appeal to dieters, who can fill up on these lower calorie entries, and will also satisfy any vegetarian guests.
When you’re deciding what to serve on a vegetable plate, consider taste, texture, and appearance. You’ll need to decide if any of the vegetables you use for crudités should be blanched first. Blanching can help make certain vegetables more appealing and easier to eat. Consider blanching the following veggies for crudités:
Most other vegetables don't require blanching, but the above are likely to taste a little better and are more digestible if they have been cooked slightly for minute or two. You don’t want to blanch vegetables like mushrooms, tomatoes, celery, radishes, or carrots.
As you’re considering taste, consider variety. Sweet cherry tomatoes and carrots mix well with the greener tastes of broccoli. The mild flavors of cauliflower, mushrooms and green beans set off the more distinctive tasting asparagus. By providing lots of taste variety, you’ll be offering crudités to guests who may have a range of taste in what vegetables they prefer. At the least, choose a few different tastes to please all guests. The simplest crudités could be a plate of tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, and mushrooms, but feel free to be elaborate.
Texture and color choices are important in composing a plate of crudités. Vegetables come in such a wide range of colors. Consider having something white, yellow, orange, red and green for the best possible look to your plate and for a rainbow of delicious vegetables. Try cauliflower, baby corn, carrots, tomatoes and radishes, and asparagus or broccoli for colors that will really invigorate this appetizer.
Provide lots of textures, from the extremely crunchable, like carrots and broccoli to the soft yield of mushrooms. Your guests with tooth problems may thank you for halving cherry tomatoes and providing a few vegetables that are soft to eat. For those who simply love all vegetables, different textures provide a wonderful celebration of nature’s bounty.
Crudités aren’t just for parties. Many kids will be glad to consume veggies when they’re attractively displayed and feature a little dip on the side. To lower cholesterol and sodium, make a yogurt dip instead of using mayonnaise. Keeping a plate of fresh veggies in the fridge is terrific for children who like to graze between meals. It’s a healthy choice, low in calories, and yet still satisfyingly crunchy, sweet, and fresh tasting.
When brainstorming buffet platter ideas, you should think about what tastes go together. Asparagus works well with meats and cheeses that are equally as flavorful. Things like smoked salmon, prosciutto, black forest ham, and chevre work well when combined with this slightly bitter vegetable.
Tomatoes work well with mild cheeses, olive oil, coarse sea salt, and mild herbs.
Vegetables like carrots, squash, and beets work well with sweet flavors. Berries, glazes, and candied nuts all work well with these colorful vegetables.
When creating a crudités platter, presentation is the most important aspect. Making roses out of radishes, asparagus and prosciutto flowers, and melon baskets for fruit can make your party platter a work of art, and the centerpiece of your buffet table.
Fruit platters can be garnished with lemon and lime crowns, strawberry fans, melon ball trees, cranberry trees, or any other carved garnish decoration. You can decorate vegetable plates with green onion curls, blanched and Julienne vegetables bundled together with strips of leeks, or spiral sliced cucumbers.
All of these ideas are easy to create. All you need to make crowd-pleasing presentations of finger foods is a little patience, a sharp knife, and your imagination.
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