Vegetable trays are a common staple at parties and get-togethers, but you can make this appetizer a little more exciting by using colour schemes and exotic flavours in the platter. Add ethnic seasonings to vegetable dip, or include veggies other than cauliflower, carrot sticks and broccoli florets to make your crudite platter as colourful and impressive as it is delicious.
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Vegetable Dip Bowl
Instead of using a large bowl or ramekin to hold the vegetable dip in, scoop the insides from a vegetable to create an edible bowl. For instance, arrange bell peppers in red, yellow, and green in the centre of a silver vegetable tray, and place florets of broccoli and cauliflower, along with mini carrot sticks and pepper slices around the peppers. Cut the tops off of the bell peppers, and scoop out the veins and seeds. Fill the peppers with a sour or cream cheese-based veggie spread, seasoned with powdered gravy mix and fresh chives and garlic. You can also scoop out the insides of gourd vegetables like butternut squash or eggplant to serve the dip in, or line a clear glass bowl with large red cabbage leaves to resemble a cabbage head. Garnish the space around the "bowls" with fresh herbs to add more colour and a pleasant scent to the vegetable tray.
Tempura Vegetable Tray
Give the common vegetable tray an Asian flair by serving the veggies tempura-style. Flash fry slices of eggplant, cauliflower, portabella mushrooms and onions in a batter made of egg yolks, flour, cold water and a pinch of baking soda, and arrange the golden veggies on an ornate glass tray. In the centre of the tray, place a square or triangular dish for the dip -- a mixture of beef broth, sherry and soy sauce. A dish in red or gold is appropriate for the spread, the colours of happiness and royal sophistication in Chinese culture. Add shavings of horseradish between the vegetables and the bowl so guests can add a kick of spice to the tempura vegetables.
Vegetable Flower Pots
Purchase small terracotta-coloured flower pots from your local craft store to fill with vegetable dip. Or, buy a large flower pot for the centre of a ceramic tray, and line the pots with aluminium foil before putting the dip inside. Order carved "flowers" made from radishes and squashes from a local caterer to fit the garden theme, and mix a veggie dip made of sour cream, lemon juice and fresh herbs to go with the vegetables. Adding a few drops of hot sauce will add a nice spicy flavour to the crisp vegetables, and the themed presentation of dip-filled flower pots will make for great visual appeal.
Monochromatic Veggie Tray
Select vegetables for a picturesque platter that displays several edible treats in the same colour family. For instance, choose mini red and purple radishes along with slices of roasted eggplant and small ramekins of purple cabbage slaw to compose a tray full of rich colour. Mix a dip made with pungent spices like dill and basil, as well as savoury and salty flavours like anchovy paste and Worcestershire sauce. Or, create a vegetable tray with a green theme by featuring fresh broccoli florets, roasted edamame and green apple wedges rolled in spinach leaves. An avocado based dip flavoured with lime juice and marjoram is in keeping with the colour scheme and adds more subtle flavour to the tray.
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