Dining Trend: Crudité
Chefs are reimagining crudité—no ranch dressing required.
The abundant crudité platter, laden with raw celery sticks and slivers of radish, is a humble hallmark of the dinner party. But it’s no longer solely the domain of wallflowers plunking carrots into creamy ranch dressing, as a crop of forward-thinking chefs is reimagining the beloved vegetable-and-dip classic.
“Our style is produce-inspired cuisine, which makes crudité the most honest and representative dish of our philosophy,” says Sarah Adams, sous chef at Spike Gjerde’s Woodberry Kitchen, in Baltimore.
“We work closely with farmers in our community and strive to do justice to the grower and respect the vegetables. We find the best way to do that is to feature the produce in its raw state.”
One vibrant example Adams points to is her crudité with Granny Smith apples and Purple Haze carrots, paired alongside Chesapeake Rockfish dip made with homemade cream cheese, Union Craft Brewing’s Balt Alt vinegar, red onions and garlic.
“Granny Smith apples are one of our favorite things because they’re crisp and delicious, and the carrots are petite, sweet and visually stunning,” Adams says.
“The dish is creamy, crunchy, fresh and smoky all at once.”
In-season produce also inspires Chef Adam Sobel’s crudité rendition at San Francisco’s RN74.
“First, crudité doesn’t have to be so blah. Second, when you have perfect little vegetables that look like jewels, you feel compelled to let them sing on their own,” Sobel says.
For his “hummus,” Sobel swaps out chickpeas for puréed carrots, and studs it with parsley roots, baby beets and tiny celery. It’s then dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt before it’s dusted with a black-olive crumble and artichoke chips.
Adam Leonti, chef at Vetri, in Philadelphia, says crudité is one way he loves to channel Italy.
“I’ll never forget a meal I had at Marco Rossi’s restaurant in Bergamo, where he served a huge wooden basket full of raw vegetables,” Leonti says. “It’s the Italian way of showcasing the freshest cuisine from the garden.”
For his take on the old standby, Leonti seeks out the same kaleidoscope of colors, filling a Kosta Boda glass bowl with raw vegetables and herbs sourced from Green Meadow Farm in Lancaster County.
One recent special combined carrots, fennel and zucchini with sage leaf, tarragon, spinach, kale and chard. It was served with an emulsified balsamic sauce, mixed with a touch of mayonnaise.
In New York City, Chef Craig Koketsu of General Assembly says crudité is a platform for “fresh, seasonal vegetables in their purest form. We don’t peel any of them. We just scrub them with a vegetable brush so they keep their natural look.”
Because the raw vegetables and accompanying grilled flatbread are so textural, Koketsu’s dips offer a smooth contrast, like a vegan fava and avocado dip, a smoked sun-dried tomato and garlic confit blended with cannellini beans and labneh yogurt and the house-made ricotta with local honey-chili oil.
At Rose. Rabbit. Lie., the otherworldly new supper club at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Chef Wes Holton’s crudité is about recreating an edible garden. It arrives on a vintage plate, resembling a till row, with vegetables growing out of a mushroom truffle “soil” littered with soft, airy truffle sponge cake “rocks.”
This new wave of crudité is about being surprising, Holton says. “When guests order crudité, they may expect the classic version: a pile of vegetables and a dip,” Holton says. “Ours is much more playful.”
Pair It: Four Wines That Play Well with Your veggies.
91 Eradus 2013 Sauvignon Blanc (Awatere Valley); $18
90 Bloomer Creek 2011 Vin d’Eté Cabernet Franc (Finger Lakes); $18
88 Raats Family 2012 Original Unwooded Chenin Blanc (Coastal Region); $15
86 Quinta das Arcas 2013 Arva Nova Colheita (Vinho Verde); $12