You know what’s usually the most boring thing at a party?
The veggie tray.
But it doesn’t have to be! There is more out there than those plastic containers filled with sad baby carrots, celery sticks (WHY), and cheese cubes (how do these always make it in there??). The key lies with making it yourself, and it’s really not difficult! Plus, look how many colors you can include—it’s like a beautiful rainbow of veggies. You know what they say, we eat with our eyes first!
I like including a huge assortment of veggies, both for color, and to please every palate. It’s really nice to include a few one-off veggies that you don’t normally see on veggie trays because it draws interest, and people get to try new things. (Oh my god, I just wrote “thongs”… thank you proof-reading!) For instance, celeriac (also known as celery root) is a gnarly sphere covered in roots that, when prepared, is a beautiful white veggie with a delicate celery taste. And I bet you didn’t know that cauliflower comes in purple, orange, and green, as well as the usual white!
I’m also sharing two dip recipes—Garlicky Dip and Romesco—with you that I made for Super Bowl Sunday. Of course, if you don’t feel like making your own, you could always go with some store-bought hummus or something of the sort… but at least scoop it into a bowl instead of leaving it in the container!
For the Garlicky Dip, I highly suggest not telling people what the dish is actually comprised of… especially if you have finicky eaters around, and actually want people to eat it. It’s deliciously creamy (and warm!), but if you tell people all you did was boil anchovies and garlic in milk they’re going to be freaked out. You’re probably freaked out right now, aren’t you? I’m not trying that dip! you’re thinking. Do it. You will be pleasantly surprised. The olive oil and white wine vinegar temper the anchovies. Plus, I’ve scaled back the anchovies a bit just for you 😉
The Romesco is my favorite because it is such a random assortment of ingredients coming together to make something smoky, sweet, slightly spicy, and all-together awesome. I made a sandwich with it yesterday, and it was killer… like… you don’t even know (romesco spread on toast, deli chicken and sliced red beets, two slices of sharp cheddar broiled on top, mixed greens):
How To: Make the Best Veggie Tray Ever (with Garlic Dip & Romesco)
Yield: 1 huuuuge veggie tray perfect for a big party!
for the romesco:
2 dried ancho chiles
2 small red bell peppers
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup slivered almonds
4 garlic cloves
1 slice multigrain bread, toasted
5 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp + 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup hot water
1 tsp salt
for the garlicky dip:
6 cloves garlic
1 and 1/4 cup whole milk
8 anchovy fillets in oil
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + more to drizzle
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
for the veggies (this is what I used, but feel free to use whatever you wish!):
1 head broccoli, washed and cut into florets
1 head purple cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
1 bunch baby carrots, washed, peeled, and halved or quartered
1 big red beet, scrubbed, peeled, and thinly sliced
2 golden beets, scrubbed, peeled, and thinly sliced
1 celeriac, peeled and cut into sticks
1 pint cherry tomatos, washed
1 bunch small radishes, scrubbed and halved (small ones left whole)
4 watermelon radishes, scrubbed and quartered
1 small bulb of fennel, cleaned, trimmed, core removed, and thinly sliced (save the fronds to decorate your tray!)
for the romesco:
Place the ancho chiles in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and cover for 20 minutes. Drain well and remove the stems, membranes, and seeds. Set in a bowl.
Cut the bell pepper in half and remove the stems, membranes, and seeds. Place face down on a baking sheet lined with foil. Flatten each pepper half with your hand. Broil for 10 minutes on high until blackened. Place the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. Then, running the peppers under cool water, peel away the black skin. Add the peppers to the bowl of chiles.
In a pan on the stove, toast up the almonds and hazelnuts over medium heat. Add them to the bowl of a food processor with the garlic and toast. Process for about a minute until finely ground. Add in the chiles and peppers, vinegar, tomato paste, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Process for another minute until combined. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil, followed by the water. Add in the salt. Taste and season with more salt, if desired.
for the garlicky dip:
In a sauce pan on the stove, combine the garlic, anchovies, and milk. Simmer for 10 minutes on low or medium-low (don't worry if the milk separates---totally normal).
Pour the mixture into your blender and blend until combined. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil and vinegar.
Serve the sauce warm, with more olive oil drizzled on top.
romesco sauce adapted from here
garlicky dip slightly adapted from here