I have a wonderful memory I want to share with you on the "old school" crudite. Years ago my husband and I were fortunate that my sister and her husband invited us to an evening at the Columbus Citizens Foundation's Manhattan townhouse, which is very elegant. The Foundation is a philanthropic organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing Italian culture, traditions and values . I was enjoying a pre-dinner glass of wine at the bar where they served thinly sliced carrots, celery, fennel and Italian olives over shaved ice. This is the "old school" way to serve crudite, unadorned by creamy dips. I found this so delightfully refreshing that I insisted we include it in our holiday celebration menu.
"Old School Crudite"
2 lb carrots
- peel, cut in half lengthwise
- lay flat part down, cut in half lengthwise
- carefully cut in half lengthwise one last time and then cut all lengths in half crosswise
1 head of celery
- separate stalks and if the fronds (the leaves on top of the stalks) are attractive do not cut them off
- scrub with a stiff vegetable brush
- lay stalks flat (so the "u" is facing down), cut in half lengthwise
- cut in half lengthwise two more times and then cut in half crosswise
2 medium bulbs of fennel
- cut the stalks and fronds from the bulbs
- scrub bulbs with a stiff vegetable brush
- gently shave off with a potato peeler any brown spots
- remove the root end of the fennel and cut the bulbs in half lengthwise
- remove the core (it is the triangle shape in the center of the bulb)
- slice fennel lengthwise 1/8 inch thick
You can do this preparation the day before the celebration. Separately store each vegetable wrapped in a length of damp paper towel and placed in a 1 gallon zip lock plastic bag in the bottom of your refrigerator.
Fireplace Mantle at Mimi's
One half hour before the party starts, place crushed ice in a layer in an oblong platter. Arrange the vegetables on the ice and, if you like, sprinkle a few black Italian olives on top for added variety. To protect the table top from condensation that might form on the outside of the crudite platter, we placed it in a second larger platter on the table. It looked really elegant.
OK, so I'm going to jump in here because I can already hear the cynics out there saying: "Are you Divas REALLY going to tell us how to cut vegetables?" Well, YES we are doing exactly that. If you don't take the time to slice the vegetables very thinly and plate them the way we recommended you will lose that delicate refreshing experience that Sue shared with us. And who wants to serve limp, dried out, uninspired crudite?
You know how you always have bags and bags of leftover crudite after a party? Well, not with "old school". Every bit of our vegetable platter was devoured at our celebration!
Everyday Divas Celebrations
Mimi and Sue
Do the Holidays