There’s an art to serving raw vegetables with dip. First, the vegetables must be agreeably bite sized. I cringe when I see veggies the size of redwoods on a raw vegetable platter. Someone will go dip the offending broccoli or whatever into the dip, take a bite, and stick the same piece in for more dip. Yuck. So, I suggest making everything of the one-bite size to prevent double dipping. Provide toothpicks on the side. Next, of course, the vegetables should be in very good shape, as they are going to be served raw. Only the pick of the crop, or produce section, as the case may be. Broccoli, cauliflower, celery, and carrots are generally safe bets. Unless it is summer and you can get tender young ones, don’t bother with green beans, as they tend to be stringy. Cukes are pretty safe. Summer squash can be okay, texturewise, but winter specimens have so little taste it’s hardly worth it. Finally, the dip must have the right texture: too thin and it will dribble all over the place onto your pretty holiday clothes; too thick and it won’t coat the vegetable when you dip it, but rather cling in big lumps. Keep that in mind when you’re adjusting the blue cheese dip here.
Yield: Makes 5 to 6 servings
For the blue cheese dip:
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 ounces cream cheese
Small handful fresh parsley leaves
3 tablespoons chopped onion
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 to 3, teaspoons prepared horseradish, to your taste
2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, to your taste
2 teaspoons tarragon vinegar or wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the vegetables:
2 cups small broccoli florets
2 cups small cauliflower florets
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
2 ribs celery, cut into smallish sticks
1 carrot, cut into smallish sticks
Chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional), for garnish
1. To prepare the dip, put the blue cheese, cream cheese, parsley, onion, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse several times, to blend.
2. Add the remaining dip ingredients and process again, until smooth, adding salt and pepper and more lemon juice and vinegar, if needed. If the mixture seems too thick, add water 1 teaspoon at a time. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. You can prepare this up to a day ahead.
3. To serve, put dip in the middle of a serving platter and arrange the vegetables around it. Garnish the dip with parsley, if desired.