Take crudités out of the fancy box with these 3 hot and spicy sauce recipes

I have a theory that crudités, now very trendy and on many restaurant menus, were never meant to be as fancy as the word sounds. Sure, a talented chef serves up beautiful (maybe white?) asparagus or radishes with their pristine, pristine greens affixed to antique pottery. But, for this column and really, if you’re just having friends over, a plate of beautiful sweet peppers or ripe tomato wedges with a simple, flavorful sauce is actually a very humble thing to serve. You could say, “I like you, I like vegetables, and I think you’ll like these vegetables, too.”

I’m not putting crudités in a box, they may or may not be fancy, but it’s hard to deny that they’re the perfect summer snack, and the markets are full of veggies you’ll want to eat raw. That said, crudités platters are a solid year-round snack to stash in your back pocket.

There are some criteria. First, a plate of crudités should have beautiful vegetables, but not necessarily “perfect” because, honestly, ugly vegetables sometimes taste better.

It’s also fine to have a nonveg or two in the mix to round things out (this may seem like I’m backing off right away). For Blistered Sweet Peppers and Lavash with Hot Peppers, Cashews, and Carrots Sauce, I make very light and quick blisters on the sweet peppers to add a charred flavor and keep them crisp. In this same recipe, I call for toasted lavash – all you have to do is put some large chunks in a pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and toast them in the oven, and you have the best crackers. . Carrot Cashew Hot Sauce has a similar texture to hummus, but is nuttier, spicier, and sweeter.

Preserved lemon enriches mayonnaise for a cucumber and tomato dish.

Courtesy Christian Reynoso

That brings up another criterion: most vegetables need to be crisp, but not necessarily all. That way you can really savor the vegetables as they are, fresh and shiny, a great way to start a meal. I think a mix of crunchy, leafy greens can be fun, like in my very summery crudités of tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil with preserved lemon mayonnaise. Cucumbers add crunch. Tomatoes are firm and still submersible. The basil is not a garnish here: it should also be dipped in that tomato slice.

Of course, there must be a dip; otherwise it’s just a “raw” dish, I say. In addition, the dip must pair with the vegetables of your choice. If you are serving multiple sauces, try to make each one stand out. It can be as simple as canned lemon mayonnaise, where I ask that the store-bought mayonnaise be modified.

For the Green Beans, Little Gem Wedges, and Radishes with Roasted Garlic Apricot Labneh, the yogurt-based sauce is still simple, but takes a little longer to prepare with roasting, rotating, chilling, etc. Every minute that passes is worth it. caramelized sweet garlic and salty apricot is further compressed with a bit of turmeric. I top this with a crispy golden garlic and olive oil sizzling pine nuts. It’s a treat to get a bite of crispy garlic between those crispy tender leaves.

Roasted apricots and garlic take labneh to the next level as a dip for green beans and Little Gem lettuce.

Roasted apricots and garlic take labneh to the next level as a dip for green beans and Little Gem lettuce.

Courtesy Christian Reynoso

Lastly, you don’t need to have more than a couple (maybe three types) of vegetables for dipping. It really is as simple as “less is more,” and do people really need to have those crumbly raw cauliflower florets? the jicama? Belgian endive (which makes me pronounce “ahndeev” out loud every time I see one)?

No matter what crudités you make, have fun when it comes to styling your font. The questions I tend to ask myself are: Can these leaves or stems remain? Will this sheet look sexy if it has a more wavy or crunchy look? Does the plate look “together” or did I just put these vegetables here? Are there too many green vegetables on this plate, or does this monochromatic theme really look cool? There aren’t many right or wrong answers here, but take a few extra minutes to enjoy the process. It’s hard not to have fun whipping up a beautiful dish of the best bounty of the season.

Christian Reynoso is a chef, recipe developer, and writer. Originally from Sonoma, he lives in San Francisco. Email: food@sfchronicle.com Instagram: @cristianreynoso Twitter: @xtianreynoso

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