Instagrammers are obsessed with the crudité platters that LA-based boutique caterer Annie Campbell creates. As visually striking as they are tasty, these works of edible art make the ultimate holiday party centerpiece. And the best part? They’re totally doable, no culinary school degree – or even cooking – required.
For Campbell, a crudité platter is the ultimate way to start a holiday party. “First, they are so pretty and can become a part of the décor,” she explains. “They provide a healthy option, and a nice contrast to the more indulgent party offerings. They can be done in advance so that you’re not heating and fussing with hors d’oeuvres while you’re trying to entertain guests. Finally, if you are serving a dinner, crudités are a perfect way to let guests have a bite with drinks, but still leave room for the delicious meal.”
With an emphasis on organic, seasonal ingredients presented in colorful, imaginative ways, Campbell’s approach is a welcome remedy for the winter blues. Here are her top six tips for making your own stunning holiday crudité platter this season.
Fresh, crisp produce is so bountiful in summer, but come winter the options can feel, well, uninspiring. Still, for the best results, Campbell recommends staying seasonal whenever possible. While she admits to being spoiled by incredible year-round produce in Southern California, Campbell promises that there are great options regardless of where you are.
“This winter I am loving carrots in a variety of colors, radishes, and individual leaves of little gem,” she says.
Give Your Produce Some TLC
Don’t be afraid to show a bit of stem. “Picking local, pretty vegetables from the farmers market also helps create an elevated aesthetic,” says Campbell. “It’s nice to leave a bit of the stem on radishes and carrots to add that ‘of the garden’ quality.” Campbell also recommends soaking your peeled vegetables in ice water to give them extra crunch.
Embellish as needed.
Of course, we can’t all live in Southern California so if it’s slim pickings at your local farmers market, never fear. When the selection of fresh veggies is lacking, Campbell suggests embellishing your holiday crudité platter with ingredients like olives, pickles, and marinated artichokes.
The platter matters.
Though the food is the star of the show, what you serve it on matters too – think of it like a blank canvas. Campbell likes to keep things simple. “I love a wooden board for vegetables,” she says. “I experiment with other platters, but always go back to a great wood board.”
Make those platters pop.
To create the distinctive, eye-catching look of her crudité platters, Campbell uses a few simple tricks to take her presentation to the next level. One of her favorite techniques is to create an overlapping pattern with crisscrossing vegetables. She starts by scattering one kind of vegetable on the board so they are all facing the same direction. “From there we layer in the different vegetables, one at a time, keeping each vegetable in a uniformed direction,” she explains.
Color-coding is another way to go. “I like to group vegetables by similar or complimenting color, overlapping vegetables of the same color,” she explains. For example, she might place a grouping of cauliflower and white radishes next to a grouping of Persian cucumbers and snap peas. For a special holiday vibe she likes to play around with crudité platters that are entirely white and green.
Think about dip options.
You’ve got your veggies. You’ve got your platter. Next it’s time to think about dips. Campbell’s favorite is an herbaceous green goddess dressing. “It’s colorful, light, and healthy,” she says. Since green goddess is heavy on the dairy, she also likes to include hummus as a vegan option.