Garden to Table Recipe: Crudité September 14, 2018 Finding ways to get vegetables on the table at mealtimes sometimes takes a bit of creativity. I’ve found that planning, growing and harvesting our garden makes it a fun experience to try new flavors – and enjoy them too! If you don’t have a garden, going to the farmers market or grocery store and taking time to select fresh produce can be just as enjoyable. Whatever the process, it’s rewarding to know that nature and human hands worked together to make it all happen. In my cookbook, Magnolia Table, I share some instructions on how to prepare vegetables for a crudité platter, which is a light and healthy appetizer. The name crudité seemed intimidating at first, but this really is a simple dish that doesn’t require a ton of effort to make. It’s as simple as arranging assorted raw vegetables on a platter however you’d like, and pairing it with a dressing or vinaigrette. I like to incorporate a variety of produce that really show off all of the bright colors vegetables have to offer. Choose your vegetables Here’s a list of some vegetables that I typically use. Feel free to incorporate produce that is available to you. + Cucumber + Bell Peppers + Squash Blossoms + Snap Peas + Carrots or Rainbow Carrots + Asparagus + Celery + Grape Tomatoes + Sliced or Whole Baby Radishes + Watermelon Radishes + Beets + Okra + Cauliflower florets + Broccoli florets + Zucchini Blanch Firmer Vegetables Blanching vegetables, such as asparagus, snap peas, broccoli and cauliflower florets, brightens their color and softens them slightly so that they are easier to enjoy. To blanch vegetables: First, cut them all to approximately the same size, then bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set it aside. Place the vegetables in the boiling water and cook for 15-30 seconds, depending on the size and thickness of the vegetable until they are slightly softened and their color is bright. If blanching asparagus, add the stalks first and cook for 30 seconds. Then, add the tips and cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to immediately transfer the vegetables to the ice water. Let stand until completely cool. Drain the vegetables thoroughly and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel before assembling on the platter. Choose a Dip There’s nothing like a homemade, creamy dip to pair with fresh veggies. This Creamy Herb Dressing, along with the White Bean Hummus or Buttermilk Ranch from the Magnolia Table Cookbook are a few of my go-tos. Creamy Herb Dressing ingredients 1 cup mayonnaise (or 1 cup plain greek yogurt) 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves 1 cup chopped fresh chives or green onion ½ cup fresh flat-leafed parsley 1 tbsp fresh chopped tarragon ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons) 2 cloves chopped garlic 1 tsp ground black pepper ½ tsp salt 1 cup sour cream instructions In a food processor or blender, purée all ingredients (except the sour cream) until smooth. Add sour cream and process until blended. If not using immediately, refrigerate the dressing until ready to serve. Store in refrigerator up to 3 days. (This dressing can be made the day before. Just cover and chill.) Yields: 2 cups Assemble your platter Place your bowl of dressing on a serving platter, then get creative with how you arrange the vegetables. For example, you could create a pattern or group similar colors together. The beauty of this dish is that the creativity is in your hands, and I love that it gets everyone to gather around the table to eat a variety of fresh vegetables. Be sure to take a photo and tag me, @joannagaines before you dig in. I’d love to see how yours turns out! You can find these products to build your own crudité platter in the collection: Magnolia Established Tabletop.