Rarely do you come across a buffet table that does not include a vegetable or relish tray. Although it's a healthy option, unfortunately guests tend to overlook the basic vegetable tray simply because its appearance often pales in comparison to other party food. With a bit more time and effort, you can create a platter that is more appealing to the eye. By adding a few gourmet vegetables, it will also be appealing to the palate, and your platter will quickly become a hit.
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Things you need
- Assorted olives
- Pickled vegetables
- Dip, hummus or tapenade
Rinse and prepare all fresh vegetables. For every 12 guests, plan on serving 0.907kg. of vegetables, 2 to 4 cups of olives and 2 to 3 cups of dip, such as tapenade, hummus or a sour cream-based dip.
Peel whole carrots, and rinse them again. Slice carrots on the diagonal or into sticks approximately 3 to 4 inches long. Baby carrots do not require peeling or cutting.
Peel or score cucumbers and zucchini. Scoring creates a colour contrast when the vegetable is sliced. Slice cucumber and zucchini on the diagonal.
Trim broccoli crowns so very little of the stalk is left. Cut broccoli crowns into bite-size sections.
Cut the tops off bell peppers, and remove the seeds. Cut peppers into thin strips approximately 4 inches long.
Cut celery stalks lengthwise into three strips. Set aside three or four pieces to use as garnish. Cut remaining pieces into sticks 3 to 4 inches long. To cut the garnish pieces, make thin cuts with a paring knife on both ends of the celery stick, sort of like a fan. Place pieces into a bowl of ice water, and within 10 minutes the ends of the celery will curl.
Rinse and dry cherry tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes do not need to be sliced, but you can score the tops of a few to use as a garnish.
Cut the tops of spring onions into 6-inch pieces. Make thin cuts to the dark green end of the onion with a paring knife. Place the pieces in ice water until the ends curl. Set aside to use as garnishes.
Arrange prepared vegetables on the serving tray. You can place the dip in the centre of a round tray and group the vegetables around the bowl. You can also place the dip at one corner of a square or rectangular tray and fan the vegetables out (starting near the bowl, fanning out to the edges of the tray). The key in creating an artfully arranged vegetable tray is to alternate colours, shapes and sizes of the vegetables.
Leave room between groups of vegetables for the pickled vegetables and olives. Alternately, place the pickled items and olives in separate bowls, and serve them next to the vegetable platter.
Place the reserved celery, spring onion, tomato and any other garnishes near the edges of the tray or on top of the vegetables.
Add dip, hummus or tapenade to a bowl, and your vegetable tray is ready for serving.
Tips and warnings
- Baby vegetables, endive, sugar snap peas and asparagus -- cooked or raw -- are elegant options for a vegetable tray.
- Make your own marinated olives or pickled vegetables to add a special touch to the vegetable tray.
- Always exercise caution when using a knife.
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