Let’s go back to the heyday of veggie platters. You know the ones I’m talking about. Veggie platters that made you salivate over a piece of broccoli or a carrot stick dunked into your mom’s famous dip. They were fresh and inviting, and there was never anything left at the end of the party.

      When grocery stores started making pre-cut veggie platters, it was the beginning of the end. Those trays are never as fresh as the ones you make yourself, are always lacking in flavour, and are often dried out and discoloured.  Somewhere along the way the veggie platter became the thing you brought when you ran out of time to make something.

        So, I say we reclaim the veggie platter. We go back to a time when they were the star of the potluck show. And you can have a hand in its comeback! Here are three ways to build a platter to make party goers swoon.

IMAGE: Roasted potatoes, cauliflower, mushrooms and fresh endive served in a cast iron pan with toasted almond-and-tomato dip.

 Cook the vegetables

  • Roast vegetables like peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, fennel and even potatoes.  Toss the veggies with a little olive oil and salt, or another favourite seasoning, and roast at 375 F until veg is slightly golden and still a bit crunchy. They can be served warm or at room temperature.

  • Blanch green beans, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.  Blanching intensifies the colour of vegetables and makes a more visually appealing vegetable platter. It also takes the bitter rawness out of vegetables while still leaving them crispy. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook vegetables for 1 min, then drain and chill.

Not just a platter

  • Most of us default to a round or square platter.  Instead, try using other dishes you have around your kitchen. I like cast iron pans, baking dishes and baskets. Try standing up longer vegetables (like carrots, celery, green beans, jicama, etc.) in differently sized clear glassware.

Quality over quantity

  • Instead of having 10 different vegetables, stick to a selection of three to six.  Focus on the quality of the vegetables you choose over having a wider selection.

  • Combine common vegetables with more exotic ones for interest.  Keep your favourite two and then try something different like jicama, fennel, endive, kholrabi, heirloom carrots, daikon radish or broccolini.  Wander around your produce section and select something new!

Long live the veggie platter, friends. Have fun!