Hooks for Cooks™

Let’s consider the benefits of the raw veggie platter. raw-veggie-platter

When I worked for Ina Garten at Barefoot Contessa more than twenty years ago, I learned the ins and outs of arranging crudite platters.

Crudite was very fashionable back then and many parties catered by Ina at the time had a large veggie filled basket prominently featured. Folks in the Hamptons loved them,
and indeed they were a healthy eyecatching party dish.

I hadn’t thought much about veggie platters until about a year ago. We were vacationing in Florida and I had enjoyed a nice sunny day at the beach. Dinner rolled around and I had zero interest in standing over the stove cooking veggies. So, I shifted my game plan by placing a plate on the counter and loading it up with an abundance of fresh farmstand veggies that I had on hand–peppers, quartered tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots etc. Much to my surprise my kids devoured the lot with dinner. And, they came back for more when dinner was over.

When we got back to Seattle, I continued the veggie platter tradition and started using it as the backbone of my afterschool snack repertoire. On many afternoons, I find it truly remarkable to see how many vegetables my kids can knock back. Sometimes I serve the veggies with hummus. On other days, it’s simply ranch dip.

One thing I’ve learned is that it’s critically important to construct my platters with fresh crispy veggies. If I try to pass off a veggie that’s limp or getting old, the kids detect that and won’t bother eating it.

So, if you want to slip more veggies into your children’s diets, be sure to stock a supply of fresh vegetables and serve them often.

NOTE: If you want more tips for arranging crudites, see page 111 of Ina Garten’s book, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

Also, be sure to check out my post on Amazon’s Al Dente blog, “Crispy Microwaved Pappadums–No Frying Necessary.” It’s a great tip for cooking pappadums quickly and easily.

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