When it's time to decide what to bring to a pot luck, I'm always on the fence. A pasta salad? Well, it will join all the other pasta salads. A big bowl of corn relish? The work involved in taking all that corn off the cobs!
I consider who is going to be at the event -- last Sunday it was a family reunion -- and lately my decision is to bring a platter of crudites. My husband and I always have a discussion about the fact that people don't want fresh vegetables. They want pasta, potatoes, pizza. We've been pleasantly surprised to learn that they're eating crudites. A nice dipping sauce helps. This mayo-based sauce is a little spicy.
To build a crudite platter
Imagine that you're planting a garden and want to spread out the flowers, so your black-eyed Susans are in different spots around your house. Start with carrots, say, and set them in clusters of threes or fours. I prefer to begin with real carrots and cut them into spears. Baby carrots are often carrots that have been stamped out of larger carrots. Do the same with celery hearts. Leave them long and leave some greens on some of them. On this platter, you'll see four clusters of carrots, two of celery, two of cucumbers (these are Armenian cukes; leave the skins on and slice them on a diagonal), with halved cherry tomatoes in four places, a little group of thinly sliced radishes (about 1/2-inch of green stems intact) in the center. From the side, the platter forms a dome; you want some height.
Mayo dipping sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons spicy cocktail sauce, or more to taste
Dash liquid hot sauce, or more to taste
1 teaspoon grated raw onion
1. In a bowl, whisk the mayonnaise and sour cream with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
2. Whisk in the cocktail sauce, hot sauce, and onion. Taste for seasoning and add more cocktail sauce or hot sauce, if you like.
3. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until serving. Sheryl Julian
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ContributorsSheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.
Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.
Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.