Restraint is the essence of elegance to me: discretion versus being a chatterbox; the perfect single accessory instead of an abundance of adornment; it’s having the confidence to demonstrate simplicity when everyone else is making things complicated or pretentious. That’s why one of my favorite platters at a party (remember those?) was a crudites platter. Fresh, gorgeous vegetables, served simply. Cutting radishes into roses only ruins the effect. Keeping the ingredients whole as possible, and showing off the best of the season is a centerpiece that’s ready to eat. I decided to push it one step further and moved the crudites appetizer into the first course as a salad. Drizzled with my favorite vintage buttermilk recipe (it’s based on a 1959 recipe from Elsie Masterton’s wonderful Bluberry Hill Cookbook), this plate is so pretty, so simple, and so good, I hope it will become one of your favorites too!
VEGETABLES TO SERVE
Cucumbers, cut into spearsCherry tomatoes, halved
Celery, cut into smaller stalks
Bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch strips
VEGETABLES TO BLANCH
Carrots, small carrots peeled, large carrots peeled and halved
Broccoli, broken into small florets
Cauliflower, broken into small florets
To prepare the vegetables, boil a pot of water, add a handful of salt, and add the vegetables. Boil for 30 seconds (longer if you want them more tender, but only by 30 second increments) and immediately plunge into an ice bath. This immediately stops the cooking process and shocks the vegetables into having a vibrant, gorgeous color. Add the raw vegetables to the ice bath and hold until serving.
To serve, dry off the chilled vegetables with buttermilk dressing.
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon, dill, parsley, chives or celery leaves,
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine in lidded container and shake.