Crudite platters – they don’t have to be the unwelcome guest that stayed on long after the party is over. Here are some ways to transform them.
Think of the recipes you’ll use as “guides” not something set in stone, especially as the types & amounts of your veggies might not exactly match those in a recipe. You may need to scale up or down, substitute and make do.
about crudite platters
Crudite is experiencing a revival of sorts: they’re no longer simple trays of celery and carrots served with Ranch dressing. They’re often a bounty of raw, blanched or roasted vegetables of all types. Check this Huff Post article: 15 Times Crudite Was the Most Beautiful Thing on the Table. So what’s on your crudite platter?
Your tray may include expected veggies like carrots, celery, cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, green onions, red onion, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, small cooked potatoes, and mushrooms.
It might also have fun & unexpected veggies: edible flowers and herbs, specialty hot peppers, endive, radicchio, winter squash or zucchini, asparagus, fennel, sugar, snap or snow peas, blanched green beans, shaved beets, blanched brussels sprouts, blanched parsnips and/or bok choy, to name a few.
Tucked in, here or there could be specialty items like artichoke hearts, pickles, other pickled vegetables, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, nuts, even hard boiled eggs or other staples to fill it out. There could be cheese or meats, on your platter, but that’s a whole different post.
eliminate waste up front
You might not have total control of the vegetables on your Crudite Platter if you’re buying, but if you’re assembling it yourself, use vegetables you like. That will make it easier to repurpose any leftovers and eliminate potential waste.
If you’re reading this, you likely have every intention of repurposing those veggies, but be honest; if you’re not going to use the vegetables, or if there are vegetables that aren’t to your taste, there’s no sense in wrapping, storing and shoving them in the fridge only to toss them days later. Same goes for any vegetables that are really past their prime.
break it down
After a party, fridge space is likely to be at a premium. If you can muster the energy, break it down, by type in individual containers or bunched in larger ones.
Use Ziploc bags, individual or a large flat storage container. If everything else is in use, go for an 8 x 8″ or 9 x 13″ baking pan. Anything to avoid trying to stuff a huge, poorly wrapped tray in your fridge is helpful.
consider food safety
Wrap and refrigerate as soon as possible & keep in mind that cooking the vegetables will always be your safest options. You’ll want to keep Food Safety in mind when cooking or dealing with any leftovers.
The safest bet is to cook any vegetables that have been sitting out at room temperature for while, with a few exceptions, like whole radishes & whole cherry tomatoes. Items, like sliced cucumbers that aren’t aren’t going to be good cooked, are best discarded. Be careful of dips & spreads.
using the bounty
Whew. That can be a lot to deal with! It’s likely that some of your vegetables are going to be “user-friendly” and need hardly a thought. Others may be a tougher call. It’s going to be your choice on where to mix and match in a recipe, based on the types of vegetables and the amounts.
The no-brainer advice is to separate by type and use each as you normally would. But read on for ideas more ideas, many that are multiple vegetables friendly.
prep for later:
1. blanch & freeze:
Blanching is dropping the veggies in boiling water for a minute to stop the enzymatic process, then shocking them in cold water to stop the cooking process. For more information, check this article by the Spruce. Divide by type or types that make sense; for instance, cauliflower & broccoli go well, together, blanch & freeze.
2. cook & freeze:
Items like onions, celery, and bell pepper can be diced, sauteed, bagged in portions and frozen, at the ready for a recipe later. One cup portions are handy & make sure to label.
3. chuck it in the freezer:
If you’re not worried about enzymatic action but just want to preserve vegetables for a short-term & the quality of the vegetable isn’t as important, just freeze. This works best for items that will be pureed as the veggies will be soft and give off a lot of water.
Do you have a dehydrator or are willing to use your oven? Blanch veggies in water for a minute, dry, chop and dehydrate. Maybe combine veggies and bag them for soups. Dehydrate greens to drop in smoothies. Mushrooms are marvelous dried and can up the umami in all kinds of dishes.
5. quick pickle:
I’m not suggesting you get up the day after a party and start canning, but quick refrigerator pickles are easy and take minutes to make. You’ll find recipes from all different cultures for sweet, hot or dill type pickles. Items that pickle well are carrots, cauliflower, red onions, beets, peas of all types and green beans. Just cook or blanch your veggies and proceed with the recipe. Here’s my Grandma’s One Jar Pickled Beets recipe.
breakfast & brunch:
If you read my blog, you know I love me some frittata – and maybe you will, too. Frittatas are marvelous ways to use up many kinds of vegetables, individually or mixed. Try this recipe and substitute veggies depending on what you have on hand.
You can never go wrong with a quiche to use up bits of this and that – here’s an easy Broccoli, Ham & Cheese quiche to use as a base recipe.
8. egg scramble:
Such a no-brainer, but an egg scramble is always delish. Chop and saute your leftover veggies, season, then toss in your eggs. Top it with a simple tomato sauce if you have a lot of cherry tomatoes. Just saute them with garlic in olive oil until soft and broken down.
Omelets are a little fancier than an egg scramble, but a little more impressive. Saute the veggies you’d like first, then top the omelet, add cheese if you wish and fold it over.
Veggie hashes are becoming a staple at my house. Just dice and fry up any vegetables you’d like until they’re golden brown and crispy deliciousness. Add a little flavor with herbs, spices or a blend. Serve over grains, grits or polenta and top with a poached egg if you’d like.
11. dip it:
After sauteing or roasting, whir in the blender with a little vinegar and olive oil and serve as a dip. Add cooked lentils, beans, chickpeas to stretch or nut butter or tahini to heft it up. Sun-dried tomatoes make a great dip, so do roasted red peppers, and need I mention Artichoke Dip?
12. batter and fry:
Use a tempura or a beer type batter like the one for my Crispy Vidalia Onion Rings. This works best with items like asparagus, summer squash, zucchini, broccoli & cauliflower. Par cook the harder vegetables first. The onion ring batter is light enough to coat edible flowers and tasty enough for fried pickles.
Shred or grate veggies, bind with a little egg and flour. Griddle until golden brown and heated through, flipping once. This is a great use for any of the harder vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots. Check out Make a Fritter out of Any Vegetable from the KItchn.
Shred or grate veggies, bind with a heavy white sauce, bread and deep fry. Find instructions for Croquettes from anything in my post on White Sauces. This works well with a mix of just about any vegetables.
Take a peek and see if there are veggies that can be blanched and marinated. Asparagus, artichoke hearts, and beets come to mind. This Greek-inspired Marinated Asparagus is a family fave, here.
16. vegetable stock:
Vegetable stock or broth can use all kinds of veggies. I like to add a turnip or rutabaga and a few mushrooms. In addition to the basics, consider carrots and their tops, radish tops, celery, greens. Find a recipe like this one from Allrecipes and use it as a base.
17. vegetable soup:
Make vegetable soup on its own or with beans, rice, grains or noodles. Do you have celery, carrots, cabbage, and mushrooms left from your party tray? This Classic Vegetable Soup, Perfected is pretty amazing.
18. cream soups:
Cook vegetables from the tray for cream soup or use up veggies you’ve frozen. Just google up a recipe, but I’m going to give you one for something a bit different, Spring Vegetable Potage in case you happen to have an abundance of peas or any spinach left. Cook the peas, first.
In winter, this Winter Minestrone (Which can take care of onion, celery, carrots & greens but would be good with bell peppers, cauliflower, beans & peas) comes to mind. There are all kinds of Minestrones and most are heavy on the veggies, like this Spring Minestrone from Good Housekeeping.
20. relish tray soup:
This Roasted Vegetable Party Tray Soup looks pretty mouth-watering. The recipe is from the Gracious Pantry.
cook as sides:
Even a tired veggie can be revived with a good drenching in olive oil, herbs, and garlic, then roasted in a hot oven. Use Almost Alton’s Oven Roasted Broccoli as a guideline. Any peppers, from mild bells to hot as hades can be roasted and bagged in small portions for future use.
22. mash & puree:
While this won’t work for every vegetable on the tray, any baby potatoes or cauliflower are marvelous mashed. Assess other items for possibilities – maybe carrots? If you have greens, add them right into the mash.
Grilling brings out the best in so many vegetables and is a great way to treat those that might not survive other cooking methods. Try grilled endive or radicchio. Maybe you’d like Charred & Smoky Endive from Michael Chiarello?
24. cooked salads:
Here me out. In this Sumer Bean Salad, shown above, most of the vegetables are simmered to perfection and then marinated. You’re not limited to beans in a salad like this. It would be marvelous with so many veggies.
Many vegetables can easily be sauteed and served, but why not get creative? A recipe that comes to mind is this dish of Summer Squashes topped with an herbed yogurt sauce.
26. fried rice:
Chop and add to Fried Rice. I have several on my blog, but the easiest is this simple Fried Rice adapted from the Asian Grandmother. Add just about any vegetable you’d like to fried rice. Maybe stay away from the naturally wet ones like zucchini or squash.
Stir fry, with veggies already to go? No sous chef needed! One of my favorite stir-fry recipes is Beef, Bell Pepper & Tomatoes, and it’s simple enough to add other veggies.
Go Indian, or maybe go Thai! Adapt this easy, peasy Thai Curry to use up your veggies. Use just about any vegetable you’d like.
If you’re faced with a lot of crudites after a party, make a vegetarian lasagna. Layer in what you have or supplement with other veggies. This article from the New York Times has a recipe and lots of leftover ideas from top caterers.
Not every veggie on the tray will work in a Kabob, but chances are that many will! Some veggies need to be par-cooked. Try tossing them in the microwave and steaming them. Here’s a recipe from Serious Eats as a base; just adapt to what you have.
Is it too much of a no-brainer to suggest you roast or saute your veggies and toss them with pasta and Parmesan cheese? Maybe add a little cream, a little bacon?
Of course, I’m going to mention pizza! Any kind of pizza with roasted vegetables, and if your crudite platter has it, artichoke hearts, olives or other items! If you’re hopeless at shaping pizza, don’t despair. This Grandma type pizza, originally from Tyler Florence, is fantastic as a base for just about anything.
Alright, I mentioned pizza, but with “flatbread” people seem to be free to add all kinds of toppings they wouldn’t add to pizza. Amirite? Plus you can use tortillas, flatbreads, pizza rounds or even English muffins as a base.
Yes, put your veggies in a casserole! How about this vegetarian Vibrant Veggie & Brown Rice Casserole? Or maybe this Artichoke Chicken casserole that’s good for dinner or a brunch.
Shred your veggies and add them to burgers of all kinds, whether beef, ground turkey or chicken or make veggie burgers. I’m in love with the Sparrow Tavern Veggie Burgers here on my blog. It uses carrots, zucchini, corn, and peas with a potato binder, but I think it’s a good contender to use all kinds of veggies from your tray.
36. quick bread:
Shred the veggies and substitute for zucchini in your favorite zucchini bread recipe.
I like the idea of hiding all kinds of vegetables into these healthy muffins by Foodlets, but there are all kinds of veggie muffins out there.
I wouldn’t turn down one of these Garden Veggie Scones from Sugar Dish Me. I might not even wait for a leftover veggie tray to make them! Heather used bell pepper & spinach but you might tweak her recipe to use what’s on hand.
39. yeasted bread:
Veggies are great in a bread. Maybe this marvelous Harvest Bread, like this one from Vegetarian Ventures.
Yeah, I’m going there. There’s always Carrot Cake, like this family recipe from Wayside Inn, but check out this article on desserts using other veggies, by Food 52.
41. green sauces:
Make pesto, chimichurri, chermoula, or garnishing oils like this Cilantro Oil from your veggie tops and leftover herbs. Heck, toss some greens in there if you’re so inclined.
42. freeze herbs:
Freeze any leftover herbs to use in soups, stocks, and recipes. I often just toss them in a Ziploc, but you can take it one step further and add herbs to an ice-cube tray. Top with olive oil and freeze.
43. olive tapenade:
It’s a shame to waste olives – make tapenade. Here’s one served with a crudite platter (oh no! Not another crudite platter, lol!) that looks delish, Culinary Hills Home-made Olive Tapenade. Tapenades keep for months and are great on soups, in sandwiches or as an appetizer.
44. desiccated olives:
There is such a thing and they are wonderful! See this recipe from Cortijo de la Plata.
45. use pickle juice:
If you’ve had pickles or marinated vegetables think about using the leftover juice. You’ll find lots of ideas if you search, but here’s a fun article from Wonder How To. Yeah, pickle juice, you betcha. It’s a thing!
I know I’ve only scratched the surface with ways to use leftover crudite or party platters! What are your favorite trips, tips and ways to utilize any leftover? I’m always loving finding something out that’s new to me and would love it if you shared back!
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