Edible Vegetable Centerpieces

Recipes, Special Occasions
on April 1, 2007

We’ve always felt sort of conflicted about crudités. On one hand, they’re often sort of boring—forlorn rows of carrot sticks, broccoli florets in little piles. On the other hand, when we serve them at parties, they inevitably disappear, which is, of course, the ultimate hors d’oeuvres endorsement. And now that the weather is finally warming up, the spring vegetables at our local market are particularly tempting.

So if the crudité array is here to stay, let’s not just sigh and slice another celery stalk. Let’s elevate the whole shebang to centerpiece status!

Instead of laying our sticks and spears and slices flat on a tray, we display them vertically in a pretty bowl. In the center, place taller items like asparagus spears (blanch them first by dropping them into a pot of boiling salted water for three minutes, then draining and plunging into ice water to stop the cooking and preserve the color). Then surround those with shorter options, alternating colors where possible—orange and yellow bell peppers, while sometimes a little pricey, make for a beautiful arrangement. An insider’s trick that we borrow from professional flower arrangers: Put a small, shallow dish in the center of the larger bowl to get the innermost bunch to stay upright. From boring to beautiful. Hooray, crudites!

—The Purcell Sisters