No carrots and ranch in sight.
Nestled between the chicken wings and party mix, a plate of raw veggies is often the least appealing halftime snack. But when a colorful assortment of in-season vegetables is paired with a variety of creamy homemade dips, you might be surprised at how quickly the platter needs replenishing. We spoke with Sean Wilson, executive chef of Riviera Caterers, and Allison Stowell, nutritionist for Guiding Stars, for their best tips on making crudité the star of the Super Bowl.
Choose In-Season Vegetables
For a unique and vibrant platter packed with vitamins and nutrients, incorporate veggies that are at their peak this time of year. Purple brussels sprouts, tri-color romanesco cauliflower, grilled radicchio, sliced beets, and roasted butternut squash are all great options. And their flavor isn’t the only thing that will attract party goers: “Guests will be more inclined to eat brightly colored vegetables,” Wilson says. His tip for boosting their hue even more? Blanching. “Blanch your broccoli in boiling water and then shock in ice water for a bright green color,” he says.
Don’t Skimp on Variety
To ensure everyone has something to snack on, include a wide range of veggies on your platter. For a party of 20 people, Wilson recommends including one pound each of five types of vegetables—try a mix of both in-season veggies and more classic offerings, such as tomatoes and red pepper strips. Make sure to cut larger vegetables into one- or two-bite pieces, and arrange the veggies so that the colors alternate. And don’t limit yourself to the produce aisle. “Consider visiting the olive bar at your market for a bit of marinated mushrooms and olives—and add some artichoke hearts, too,” Stowell says.
Think Beyond Ranch
Let’s face it—raw veggies are lackluster without their partner in crime: dip. Ranch is the obvious choice for veggies, but there are a number of healthier, more interesting options, too. Homemade hummus is a crowd-pleasing pick, as is a red pepper dip. For a cheesier option, try this lemon-y pecorino dip, or go bold with roasted garlic and scallion. Place the dips in the middle of the platter, and arrange the veggies around the bowl. The color rule holds true for dips, too, so look for a spread that’s just as vibrant as the veggies. Just remember—don’t double dip!
Spruce Up Store-bought
If you don’t have time to prep your own platter, try doctoring up a store-bought one. Look for platters with veggies cut freshly in the store (as opposed to a pre-wrapped one the store buys already cut), as they tend to be fresher and look more appealing, Wilson says. He also suggests adding something homemade, such as warm, crispy pita chips. Simply bake pita wedges seasoned with salt, pepper, and olive oil at a 350° F oven until golden brown. A final touch? Providing your own platter. “Transfer the veggies to your own platter... Then add to it, beginning with colors that aren’t already represented,” Stowell says.