tricked out crudite platter

tricked out crudite platter
opt for the tender inside stalks if available, see notes
snap peas
cherry tomatoes
preferably with green tops
buy red endive if available
baby mushrooms
white ones in a cluster
mini bell peppers
in different colors with the tops still attached, select skinny ones if available
mini cucumbers
watermelon radish
or purple daikon, shaved into rounds, be sure to purchase ones that don't have dark spots on the outside
fresh herbs
such as cilantro, Italian parsley, or chives, finely chopped, optional
edible flowers
For our daughter's 2nd birthday party, we served finger foods - pizza, nachos, and lumpia. We needed to add some veggies to the spread and were tempted to incorporate a salad, but that would depart from the finger food theme, so we prepared a crudite platter. To make it look as appetizing as possible, we researched photos and selected veggies and slicing techniques that made it look amazing. In the photo, we forgot to add the mushrooms and couldn't find edible flowers that day, but everything still worked out. We served this with mother-in-law's veggie dip.
to prep the veggies
Wash the celery first, trim off the ends, then dunk them in a glass of water while prepping the other veggies. This treatment will freshen and crisp the celery.
Wash and dry this group of veggies in a salad spinner. The snap peas and cherry tomatoes can be washed in advance. The endive will need to be separated into leaves before being washed and spun. The mushrooms should be washed just before serving.
Wash and dry the mini bell peppers in the salad spinner. Wash the rest of the veggies in a basket then dry them. Scrub the carrots with a vegetable brush, and if any visible dirt remains in the deep creases towards the end, remove that bit with a vegetable peeler. Halve or quarter the bell peppers, carrots, and mini cucumbers vertically.
Wash the radish and scrape off any dark spots if needed. Shave the radish into thin rounds with a mandolin. If the radish is small, shave it into thicker rounds.
Last, dry and cut the celery into sticks. Halve the sticks vertically if the stalks are thick.
to assemble and garnish
To assemble, group the long veggies - cucumbers, celery, and endive - together. You can either set them towards the back of the tray like in the photo or orient them like rays so that each group points towards the center of the serving platter. Set the baby mushrooms in the middle, then fill in the gaps from there with the smaller veggies such as the snap peas, cherry tomatoes, mini bell peppers, and watermelon radish. Aim for alternating colors and textures between the piles of vegetables. Top with fresh herbs if desired.
To garnish, decorate with edible flowers. A few snap peas could also be opened/halved lengthwise and incorporated into the pile of snap peas. If you have celery leaves, those could also be used as garnish.
Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco sells individual celery stalks which gives us the flexibility to select the tender inside stalks when available. We also throw in some celery tops for visual interest. :)