How to Make a Veggie Basket into a Conversation Piece

Alright…I’m feeling all smart and everything because you all had such nice things to say about my soup freezing techniques (you are all too kind…’cause I was kinda kidding about the brilliant thing really!)
I think this is totally brilliant too, but I sort of stole the idea.  I was at a small retail store that was just opening and they had some nibbles out for people to eat while they shopped.  I was completely enamored by their veggie tray because it was so pretty and became a make shift conversation starter!
That being said, this was more than 20 years ago…and I haven’t seen a veggie tray made like this since then…like anywhere.
So, since I have been making my veggie trays like this for the past 20 years, I am going to claim it as my own (same concept as squatters rights…if you wait long enough, something that is not yours becomes yours).
I’ll make you all a deal:  let me share this idea with you and you can all completely claim this idea as your own.  Just send me a line when everyone tells you how smart you are.
You’re welcome for that little boost of confidence…

1.  Start with lots of fresh veggies:  I am partial to peppers (I’ll tell you later why you need these in a few colours), cherry tomatoes, celery, baby carrots, mushrooms, cauliflower and radishes.  You will also need some veggies with height (spring onions) and a head of curly cabbage or kale.
2.  Take a basket like this (I bought this at Canadian Tire on sale for $4).  Fill it with crumpled newspaper and fill about 3/4 full.  I keep this basket, filled with the newspaper, in my basement so I don’t have to start from scratch every time I need a veggie tray made.
the easiest way to eat your veggies
3.  Loosen the outer leaves of the cabbage (the nice thing about this is you will only use the leaves you would otherwise throw away – the tough, large green leaves and a few of the lighter green leaves).  Rinse them and pat dry. Or, if you’re using kale, wash and dry that!

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4.  Hollow out your peppers like this but keep the lid part for decoration (will explain later)
5.  Rinse and set aside anything that has height (like the spring onions and the inner leaves of the celery stalk).

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7.  Prep the rest of your veggies (ie. cut your cauliflower into small florets, etc) and set aside.  Take your English cucumber and make it pretty by running a fork down the cucumber from one end to the other and repeat until you have done this all the way around.  When you cut it into disks, it will look pretty (or you can just leave them plain..you decide!)

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8. Now, start prepping the basket:  lay the cabbage leaves along the bottom of the basket, covering the newspaper and letting some
of the leaves hang out.  Or if you use kale, do the same (the basket below has kale so you can see the difference) and place the peppers strategically in the basket (they will be filled with dips so only use as many as you need)
the easiest way to eat your veggies
10. Place the rest of the veggies around the basket so that the colours as evenly distributed;  fill the peppers with purchased dips or ones you have made.
11.  Want a quick dip (made in 1.5 minutes)?  Take a small container of feta and drain it; place the cheese in a food processor along with a 340 ml jar of roasted peppers (not the liquid).  Whiz it up and add a few spoons of the reserved pepper liquid until it is the consistency you like.  All done!
Want to be a hero amongst your friends?  Just serve this.

They will think you are brilliant…it will be between me and you, honest!

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