It’s officially too hot to cook. Seriously, I’m melting.
Enter the humble veggie platter. It’s my go-to lunch or dinner when the temperature goes through the roof, and you can easily customize it to make the most of whatever summer produce you have available. Veggie platters are also great for entertaining, especially since you can make a lot of the components in advance.
In this post, you’ll find some tips on how to assemble a colorful and delicious veggie platter. I also share two of my favorite dips to serve alongside it: a garlic-everything hummus and a smoked salmon dip.
Tips for Building an Easy, Tasty, and Beautiful Veggie Platter
Use what is in season. Summer comes late where I live, so we still have an abundance of spring veggies like radishes, snap peas, and garlic scapes (more on these later!). They will never be as tasty as they are now, which is why I chose to feature them in my veggie platter. Also, can we talk about how beautiful purple daikon radishes are? Even if you don’t like radishes, something that pretty is hard to resist. You might also want to add some crowd favorites like carrots and cherry tomatoes to make sure that picky eaters feel included.
Include a variety of colors and textures. I went all out for this platter in terms of color, but you don’t have to take it this far. When I don’t have a wide variety of vegetables available, I just tend to pick two or three main colors that work together and alternate them in a visually appealing way. Greens, oranges, and yellows, for example, look really pretty together and there are many veggies that fit this color scheme. Texture is also important. You might think that most vegetables are crisp and/or crunchy, and they are, but there are subtle differences between them that you should keep in mind. Bell peppers, for instance, are both crisp and juicy, whereas radishes are more on the crunchy side. If you are serving dips alongside your veggie platter, including crackers like I’ve done here is a good idea because they provide a nice contrast to the dips’ creaminess.
Prep ahead. This is important especially if you are planning on serving a veggie platter at a party. There is nothing worse than being stuck in the kitchen for hours before the party starts and then being too tired to socialize. Prepping the veggies doesn’t take that long, but making the dips in advance can save you a ton of time and stress on the day of the party.
Feature whole veggies alongside chopped ones. Including a couple of carrots with the tops on adds a lot of visual interest to this veggie platter. I also chose to add whole daikon radishes and a bunch of whole garlic scapes because people might not be familiar with them. Being able to show your friends what the whole vegetable looks like is a great way to get a conversation started, and it may even encourage them to try something new.
Let me tell you a little bit about the dips that I chose to feature alongside this veggie platter. The first one is a garlic-everything hummus, which makes use of several interesting alliums. Alliums include many different species of plants in the onion family, such as chives, scallions, shallots, and leeks. For this hummus, I decided to use fresh garlic stems, garlic chives, and garlic scapes.
Garlic stems, as the name implies, are the green shoots attached to the actual garlic bulb. The whole stem is edible, but make sure to only use the most tender parts in this hummus. Garlic chives are a type of onion native to China. They look like long, flat green leaves, and taste more garlicky that oniony. Finally, garlic scapes are the curly green stems that you see in the picture with the purple daikon radishes. The whole plant is edible except for the tough tops, which look like bulbs. You can use all of these alliums in the same way as you would use chives or scallions, but my favorite way to eat garlic scapes is to throw them on the grill until they get charred and serve them with a sprinkle of Maldon salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Other than the unusual alliums, the hummus that I’ve made for you here is very traditional. It will have a subtle rather than strong garlicky flavor. If you can’t find any of the aliums I’ve mentioned here, feel free to just use garlic instead. One medium-sized clove should be enough.
Now let’s talk about my favorite salmon dip in the whole world. It’s my go-to appetizer whenever I get invited to a potluck, simply because it’s so easy to make. If you bring the cream cheese to room temperature, you should be able to mix everything by hand, but I prefer to put everything in the food processor just to make extra sure that the salmon gets spread out evenly.
What is your favorite thing to make when it’s really hot out? Leave a comment below!
Garlic-Everything Hummus and Dilly Salmon Dip
These two dips are the perfect accompaniment to a spring or summer veggie platter. Both can be made ahead of time and are gluten free.
- For the garlic-everything hummus:
- 2 cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed (make sure to reserve some of the water to thin out the hummus if necessary)
- ½ cup each of roughly chopped garlic scapes, garlic chives, and garlic stems (or 1 medium garlic clove)
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- For the dilly salmon dip:
- 4 oz cream cheese brought to room temperature
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ⅛ cup of chopped chives
- 2 oz smoked salmon, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped dill
- Salt and pepper to taste
- For the veggie platter:
- Your favorite assortment of seasonal veggies (I used purple daikon radishes, French radishes, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, carrots, and yellow bell peppers)
- Your favorite crackers
- A cheese that compliments the dips (I used feta)
- Step 1 To make the garlic-everything hummus: Put the first five ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until well combined. With the food processor running, add the olive oil until everything comes together into a smooth paste. If the hummus looks dry, you can add some of the reserved garbanzo bean water until it reaches the right consistency.
- Step 2 To make the dilly salmon dip: Put all of the ingredients except for the salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and mix until well combined. Season to taste.
- Step 3 To assemble the veggie platter: clean and chop the veggies reserving some whole ones to garnish the platter. I like to use a baking sheet as my “platter.” Put the dips on the platter first and arrange the vegetables around them following some of the tips included in this post.