This post is sponsored by Arla. Here’s how to make a better vegetable platter with recipes for tandoori spice carrots, lemon broccolini, radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes – or swap in any seasonal veggies – with a quick and easy cream cheese to dip!
When I was younger and much, much rounder, I remember learning the word for the baby carrots, celery sticks, and raw broccoli that sat alongside the other—let’s be honest, better—appetizers at parties: crudité. In my mind, they were taking up precious space. Filler, like the kale leaves underneath a deli platter that make it pretty but aren’t edible. Not until I lost 135 pounds did I begin to look at the vegetable platter differently. Suddenly, I got it. At a party, where I’d ordinarily be elbows deep in chips, dip, and cheese, the carrot sticks were my allies. Now the ranch dressing? Not quite as friendly.
The vegetable platters of yesteryear might have been pre-packaged, pre-cut veggies with a tub of ranch dip, but now a veggie platter can be a fresh, colorful garden on your table—the prettiest, healthiest centerpiece.
Build a Better Vegetable Platter: Better Veggies
I choose veggies based on look, taste, texture, and season, and like to raw options with 1 or 2 cooked ones like the Tandoori Spice Carrots and Lemon Broccolini I made here!
Tandoori spice carrots = baby carrots seasoned with a warm, smoky, mildly spicy blend of cumin, ginger, turmeric, garlic, coriander, and cayenne. The carrots are roasted until tender but still crisp, to bring out more of their natural sweetness. You can use the small carrots like I found or traditional baby carrots, sold in bags–just be sure to dry them really well with paper towels since they tend to be very wet and water-logged and won’t hold onto the oil/spice mixture quite as well when roasting.
Lemon broccolini = the long spears of broccolini make great dippers, and here they get a quick coating of olive oil, a sprinkling of dried dill, and then a trip in the oven to roast until browned. Last, I squeeze lemon juice and grate lemon zest over the spears for an ultra-fresh, zippy finish.
Keeping fresh vegetables on the veggie platter is still essential for texture and ease. My 3 fresh veggies: Persian cucumbers, which, if you’re not familiar, are just thinner-skinned, slightly sweeter cucumbers that measure about 4 to 5 inches in length. Feel free to use any kind of cuke! Also on the platter: radishes and grape tomatoes.
A Better Vegetable Platter Dip: Arla Herbs & Spices cream cheese
Every veggie platter needs a creamy dip, and one that has some punched up herb flavor. I use Arla Herbs & Spices cream cheese because it has kicks of dill, paprika, onion, and garlic (and I’ll admit I was swayed by that beautiful, beachy, sunset-orange color). The flavor can’t help but complement and enhance the vegetables. It’s silky and creamy enough to be dippable, and light enough to actually enjoy without regrets. Even as someone who thinks ranch dip/dressing is delish (ever dipped your pizza crust in ranch?), this herbs & spices cream cheese is a real cut above the typical dip mix. There are no added hormones* or artificial flavors. This is how I think about it: if I’m already eating good-for-me veggies, why not try for something simply better in the dip department?
*The FDA has determined that there is no significant difference between milk derived from rBST-treated and non-rBST-treated cows.
I hope this serves as some welcome inspiration to upgrade your vegetable platter, if not for a get-together, then for a light lunch or a snacky movie night at home (peek into my life). You can always mix and match veggies based on the season, just make it pretty to make your mother proud ;)