There's no more classic party appetizer than a dip and crudité platter. It's a fan favorite, a great way to introduce some healthy options into the evening, and perfect for vegetarians and carnivores alike. Whether you want to serve fresh carrots and savory hummus, a homemade dip and cucumber slices, or sugar snap peas and ranch, blanching your vegetables is the key to a perfect crudité platter.
Classic crudités (French for, unsurprisingly, “raw things”) typically consist of broccoli, carrots, celery, cucumber, bell pepper, cauliflower, tomatoes, fennel, asparagus, and green beans. Served with a vinaigrette or creamy dip, the veg serves as a fresh, crisp, eye-catching appetizer or snack before dinner.
While for many it would be just fine to thoroughly wash the vegetables, chop into florets or sticks, and serve, there’s one quick step that serves to set your veggie appetizer apart from the rest, giving the heartier veg a tender-crisp bite and steadfast, vivid color: Blanching.
What is Blanching?
Blanching is a technique that involves quickly cooking vegetables or fruits in boiling water to help set and keep their flavor, color, and texture. Not every fruit or vegetable is suited to this technique, but vegetables like carrots, broccoli, and green beans greatly benefit from it.
What is Blanching?
Blanching is a cooking technique that involves quickly boiling vegetables or fruits to help set and keep their flavor, color, and texture, then placing them in ice cold water to stop the cooking process.
After blanching, it’s important to then “shock” the hot veg in ice cold water to stop the cooking process as quickly as possible, further ensuring the color and texture stay as intended.
How to Blanch Vegetables
Blanching vegetables is easy, but requires a bit of foresight. You’ll want to have everything prepped in advance as the process, once it starts, moves quickly.
- Start by washing and prepping your vegetables. They should be cut into evenly sized pieces.
- Set a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Once boiling, salt generously, as you would pasta water.
- Prepare a large bowl of ice water. If you don’t have ice, make sure the water is as cold as you can get it, and even set the bowl in the sink, so you can continuously run the vegetables under cold running water.
- Carefully add the vegetables to the pot of boiling water and let cook until the pieces are brightly colored and crisp-tender. The time will vary based on the size and type of vegetable, but you should begin testing the pieces a mere 30 seconds after cooking, then again every 30 second thereafter. Most vegetables take between 2 and 5 minutes.
- When your vegetables are done to your liking, turn off the heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to the bowl of ice water or cold running water.
- Once the vegetables are cool to the touch, remove from the water and drain on a towel-lined plate. Serve with dip or store, as laid out below.
How to Store Blanched Vegetables
After blanching and shocking your vegetables, serve them immediately or keep them freshly packed for snacking on at any time. To store them, simply wrap up the florets or sticks in a slightly damp paper towel. Transfer to a ziplock bag, seal, and store in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.
Seasonally-Inspired Crudités Combinations
Now that you know how to prep your vegetables for a better bite, here are some ideas for show stealing crudités platters that will keep you happily snacking on vegetables, any time of year.
Spring: cauliflower, bell pepper, sugar snap peas, radishes, carrots, cucumber, and kohlrabi paired with an herby, creamy, ranch-y dip.
Summer: broccoli, green beans, snow peas, carrots, zucchini, cucumber, asparagus, grilled new potatoes, and tomatoes paired with a light, lemony vinaigrette.
Fall: cauliflower, watermelon radishes, purple carrots, yellow zucchini, bell pepper, thinly sliced mushrooms, and red grapes paired with a light, tahini-based dressing.
Winter: broccoli, cauliflower, roasted beet, fennel, carrots, green beans and roasted Brussels sprouts paired with hummus.