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22:25  06 december  2019
22:25  06 december  2019 Source:   msn.com

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a plate of food on a table© Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Prop Styling by Beatrice Chastka, Food Styling by Anna Billingskog
Why crunchy, powerfully-seasoned raw vegetables are your holiday appetizer move.

Does this headline seem like click bait? Probably.

Now that I've won your coveted click, I'll just admit that I advertised falsely and in fact I do love a good dip. I'll get down on a savory bagna cauda and I'll pack away a nice muhammara. I will come to your house and absolutely obliterate your seven-layer dips and your buffalo chicken "dips". (Just so you know, this is an entree, everyone!) I'll partake of your Lipton onion soup mix stirred into sour cream then be filled with regret and shame later. I'm fun, free, and ready to party like it's game day every day.

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But when it comes to my own dinner parties and holiday gatherings, I'm not one to serve a dip. Me? I'm more of a crudité gal.

Sure, you can dip crudités. Sure, you don't have to choose one or the other. (True story: I went to my grandparents' anniversary party in Kansas this summer, where ranch was served inside of a hollowed bell pepper, with baby carrots for dipping. I ate a lot of it!) But my favorite way to serve crudités—the only really revelatory way to serve raw vegetables as an appetizer, in fact—is to cut them into pretty, one-or-two-bite slivers, sprinkle them with a bomb seasoning mix, and add copious amounts of something tart.

I'm thinking first and foremost of my coworker Anna's recipe for chile-lime crudites. This is what introduced me to the true power of a crudité appetizer—no dip necessary. It's hard to imagine my life before I knew about zesting lime over sliced vegetables, sprinkling chile and flaky salt over the top, and squeezing the lime juice over the whole thing. I serve this app at every dinner party I host, and it's a part of every snack spread I assemble. The seasoning makes something as boring and virtuous as raw vegetables exciting: tangy from the acid, salty from the salt, spicy from the chiles. People go crazy about it because they didn't realize raw vegetables could be, well, exciting.

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Crudités with Chile-Lime Salt

a plate of food on a table: Forget dip: this zesty spiced salt wakes up any sliced raw fruit or veggie. This recipe calls for cucumbers, oranges, radishes, and jicama, but you can definitely throw in others, as well. See recipe.© Photo by Joseph De Leo, Prop Styling by Sophie Strangio, Food Styling by Monica Pierini Forget dip: this zesty spiced salt wakes up any sliced raw fruit or veggie. This recipe calls for cucumbers, oranges, radishes, and jicama, but you can definitely throw in others, as well. See recipe.

Putting out this sort of snack is also much easier than making dip—which are low-key a lot of work if you think about it, sometimes requiring that you cook and often requiring that you purée. For crudités, you just prep the veg and sprinkle the seasoning. Seasoned crudités are also cleaner finger food for your guests, who won't have to worry about dripping dip on their shirts. It's also a less filling option for people who are actually excited about whatever main dish is coming.

You don't need to feel married to chile lime vegetables, either. Recently, Anna's crudite game has evolved toward sweet, fruity Urfa chile and rice wine vinegar instead of ancho and lime. She also likes using Aleppo-style chile flakes, which are great for bringing not just a touch of heat but also some sweetness and complexity.

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Your crudites don't have to be spicy, either. Top them with a seedy mixture, like toasted sesame seeds and Maldon. When she wants a simpler spread, Anna likes to toss the vegetables in rice wine vinegar, then top them with black sesame seeds and crunchy salt. You can use za'atar, dukkah, kelp flakes, togarashi, or gomasio (a combo of seaweed and sesame seeds). The acid can come in the form of lemon, lime, or any of your favorite vinegars. Recently, I've been into a ground black lime you can get at Burlap and Barrel, an online single-origin spice purveyor. It's a powder made of sun-dried limes, which oxidize and turn black and develop a savory quality in addition to their bright acidity. Any seasoning mix you love will probably work. Ditto for any flavored salt.

It's important, though, that you select your vegetables wisely. Ban baby carrots, especially if they're dry or slimy. Instead, opt for flavorful, funky guys like slivers of daikon or watermelon radish. Add Persian cukes and endive. Jicama is a great option. Slices of orange are great, too, and will give you that hit of savory seasoning combined with sweet fruit. Small heirloom carrots cut in half are nice. It's okay to do a combo of all of these, or just opt for one or two of them.

As a seasoned-crudité guiding principle, just keep this in mind: you want a balance of acid, salt, and either savoriness or heat. And you want fresh, actually-flavorful vegetables. And, okay, fine, if you want to make a dip to go alongside, I'll be over in ten with the chips.

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