Vegetables 101: What Are Crudites? ♥ How to Create a Colorful Instagram-Friendly Platter of Raw Vegetables

What Are Crudités? (And How to Build a Stunning Platter) another Vegetables 101 ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 What do we call those simple-to-stunning plates and platters and trays of colorful vegetables so often served at parties but also, in simple form, at family tables? Let's talk crudités – the what, the how, the why. Wondering what vegetables to use and how to present them beautifully? Here are my very best tips! graphic button small size size 10

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graphic button small size size 10 Is there a vegetable that shows up in crudités that you absolutely avoid touching let alone eating?
graphic button small size size 10 Is there another that you steer toward, no matter what else is available?
graphic button small size size 10 If you're into crudités, do you have any surprise vegetables that you always sneak in?

WHAT ARE CRUDITÉS? Crudités are fresh, colorful and usually raw vegetables displayed attractively in some way, often on a plate or platter or interesting tray, nearly always with a dip or two. You know how grocery stores have those plastic trays with separate sections for carrots, celery and maybe some grape tomatoes? Yes, those are crudités! But trust me, we can definitely do better than that.

HOW TO PRONOUNCE CRUDITÉS? It's a French word, [pronounced kroo-de-tay, kro͞odəˈtā].

WHAT'S THE SINGULAR OF CRUDITÉS? The singular use is the same as the plural use. One crudités, two crudités. If you see the phrase "crudité" (without an s, attempting to create a singlular form) platter, the spelling is in error, the word always ends with s, singular and plural both.

IS THERE A BETTER WORD? Not that I can think of! What do you use? What do you call those veggie trays???


Hands-on time: allow plenty of time, it always takes longer than I think
Time to table: serve within a couple of hours of assembling
Serves 1 to many

Thinking Ahead

Give yourself a head start by washing the vegetables ahead of time, even the day before. But for the prettiest presentation and greatest freshness, don't cut up the vegetables until a couple of hours before serving.
Definitely make the dip the day or two ahead of time, they often taste better the second day! I have several favorite dips but Roasted Eggplant “Hummus" (Eggplant & Chickpea Dip & Spread) is definitely at the top of the list.
Choose a plate or platter or tray with either slope or sides, making it easier to "contain" the vegetables when moving it from your workspace to the fridge to the table. That said, no need to paint within the lines here, some vegetables look great when artfully hanging off the sides.
In hot weather, extra points if you can figure out a way for the crudités to rest on ice.

Oh! The Color! Choosing the Vegetables

You'll want at least three different vegetables, choose a mix that can "paint" the platter with different colors, shapes and textures.
But go ahead and break the "multi color" rule. One of the prettiest plates of vegetables I've ever seen was "tone on tone" – different shades of green.
Or go all holiday! It was this wonderful Thanksgiving Turkey Vegetable Platter that then led to Christmas Tree Vegetable Platter and then to Thomas the Tank Engine Vegetable Trains. These totally get attention – and eaten!
Know your eaters! Familiar vegetables are good for kids and conservative eaters. Unusual vegetables are fun for curious eaters.
More than anything, know that freshness matters with crudités. Last summer, we hosted a dinner at a fancy club and I was so upset to pay something like $12 per person for a vegetable platter that included ugly radishes, the old, woody ones from the bag, not even the fresh, pretty ones with leaves.

Not So Fancy Knife Work: Cutting the Vegetables

Keep the vegetable pieces just one to two bites big. For example, cut big pieces of cauliflower and broccoli down to small florets.
Before cutting vegetables, consider several things. What is its natural shape? What would be an unusual, unexpected way to cut it? What shape would be interesting on the platter, and maybe hasn't been used yet? What shape would be easy to eat?
Try to incorporate "more" of the plant than less. For example, instead of celery sticks, use the top section of a rib of celery, including the leaves. But do keep in mind what would be awkward for the eaters. For example, I often see Instagram-perfect crudités that include graceful swirls of carrot leaves. But who's gonna pick up a carrot with all that attached? (And they wilt, fast, so there's that too.) Instead, leave an inch or two of the green stem.
Show off the architecture of the vegetable. For example, I love to cut mini peppers in half vertically. Those beautiful multi-colored carrots from Trader Joe's are so pretty too!

Raw Veggies Plus ...

Crudités vegetables are usually raw but there's no reason not to sneak in a pickled vegetable such as Quick Pickled Asparagus.
In turn, some vegetables can serve as "carriers" for a bit of wet cheese or dip on one end. Think individual leaves of endive, endive, bok choy, butter lettuce and chard. And mini peppers, halved, can also be stuffed with a little something.
Crudités platters are often all vegetables but these are some fresh, creative additions:
Olives (in small bowls)
A few toasted nuts, stick to the savory side such as Party Nuts with Fresh Rosemary
Hard-cooked egg halves, perhaps the sweet little mini quail eggs
Roasted chickpeas
Fresh herbs, in sprigs
Cheese straws

Good Crudités Vegetables by Color

Asparagus (choose thin to serve raw, discard the woody ends, to use thick asparagus, use Party Asparagus with Aioli)
Broccoli (the stalks are especially nice, and unexpected!)
Cauliflower (those beautiful heads of romanesco)
Cucumber (usually English or mini for their tender skins but if you've got good garden cucumbers, you can "stripe" the skins and remove the center seeds and then cut rings)
Green beans (make sure they're tender enough to eat raw)
Snow peas (ditto)
Sugar snap peas (ditto)

Bell peppers & mini peppers
Carrots (especially multi-colored carrots; do peel carrots but consider leaving an inch or so of stem; repeat this three times: no baby carrots, no baby carrots, no baby carrots!)
Radishes (especially good halved and spread with a little butter, then sprinkled with a bit of good salt)
Tomatoes, grape or other mini (leave bits of stem on!)
Yellow squash

Daikon (its bit of bite is much appreciated)
Hearts of palm (drained well)
Jicama (one of my very favorites, so crisp and wet)

Cauliflower (those lovely purple heads!)
Beets (pickled, such as Refrigerator Pickled Beets, drained well and held in a bowl so the color won't stain other vegetables)

To Blanch or Not to Blanch

I'm no fan of blanching, it's another step and a fussy one to boot. But some vegetables are easier to eat if they've been dropped briefly into boiling water, then into ice water to stop the cooking and preserve the color. Me, I choose something else. But these are some vegetables that can be blanched or even, in the case of potatoes, need cooking in full.
Corn (cut in rounds)
Edamame in the shells (be sure to include a special bowl for the inedible shells)
Potatoes (the mini ones, maybe halved)

Crudités Vegetables to Avoid

Brussels sprouts
Butternut squash
Eggplant (shouldn't be served raw)
Green onions! (who wants onion breath?!)
Spinach & other greens
Sweet potatoes
Winter squash

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Still Hungry?


~ Thai-Style Celery & Peanut Butter ~
~ Baba Ganoush (Middle Eastern Eggplant Spread) ~
~ Asparagus Tapenade ~
~ more crudités ideas ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Cucumber Dip with Feta ~
~ Herbed Ricotta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes ~
~ Easy Italian Appetizers ~
~ more appetizer recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2018

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.