Aimee’s Pretty Palette: Flower Power
Move over, charcuterie—it’s time to lighten up and give our seasonal spring vegetables their turn to shine. Living in a Pinterest world means our days of grabbing a vegetable tray from the grocery store (though I’m not judging if you do so) before heading to a gathering are long gone when there are so many ways to allow your creativity to shine with a handcrafted vegetable tray.
Not creative, you say? Stress not, dear friends.
Start your vegetable tray with a homemade dip like my Classic Spinach Dip. As someone who doesn’t necessarily love spinach, I speak for fellow non-spinach lovers in saying that this one is a keeper. It’s great with crackers, veggies, chips, and even great stuffed in eggs as Spinach Dip Deviled Eggs. Bonus points for anyone watching carbs!
Looking for yet another way to truly elevate your vegetable tray? Say hello to the Stuffed Tomato “Tulips.” That’s right, edible flowers. From the asparagus stems to the cherry tomatoes stuffed with feta cheese, you and your tray of vegetable goodness will be the stars of the show.
And finally, if you’ve never made your own parmesan crisps, you’re going to be easily converted once you give my Everything Bagel Parmesan Crisps a whirl. With just two ingredients, you’ll wonder why you’ve never made them before!
Whether you’ve been assigned appetizers for your Easter gathering, you’re helping host a bridal or baby shower, or you’re simply gathering with friends, I hope these fun twists on the traditional vegetable tray inspire you to transform your own.
Stuffed Tomato “Tulips”
4 oz. cream cheese (½ block), softened
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp. dried oregano
Pepper to taste
1 bunch asparagus, thinly sliced
1 pint grape tomatoes
Add cream cheese, feta, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and pepper to a small food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy. Place mixture in a piping bag or a resealable plastic bag and place in refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare tomatoes.
Gently slice each tomato about ¾ of the way through in a cross pattern. Remove any seeds that try to escape. Cut a small slice into bottom of tomato just enough to semi-hold an asparagus stalk in place.
Thinly slice each asparagus sprig, cutting the tip that will be inserted into the bottom of the tomato diagonally.
Fill each tomato with a bit of cream cheese mixture. Chill until ready to serve. Use any leftover filling as a dip.
Makes about 16 tulips.
Spinach Dip Deviled Eggs
6 hard-boiled eggs, halved
1 cup Classic Spinach Dip (recipe below)
Fresh dill for garnish
Slice each egg in half lengthwise and carefully remove yolks to a medium bowl. Mash yolks with a fork. Add spinach dip and blend until yolk mixture is creamy. Using a piping bag or a resealable plastic bag with a bottom corner snipped off, pipe mixture into egg halves. Garnish with a bit of dill and serve chilled.
Makes 12 eggs.
Classic Spinach Dip
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ cup sour cream
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
Thaw spinach and squeeze out excess water.
Mix softened cream cheese and sour cream in a medium bowl. Add chopped spinach, salt, pepper, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder and garlic powder. Allow flavors to meld by refrigerating for at least 15 to 30 minutes. Serve with crostini, crackers or vegetables for dipping.
Everything Bagel Parmesan Crisps
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 tsp. Everything Bagel seasoning (can also use a combination of pepper, sesame seeds, sea salt and dried minced garlic and onion)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place small piles
of parmesan cheese on pan, spaced about
1 inch apart (they will spread). Sprinkle each parmesan round with seasoning. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and edges turn golden brown. Let crisps cool on baking pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb some of the grease. Serve like a cracker and enjoy with your favorite dip, or just eat as is.
Makes about 12 crisps.
Aimee Broussard is a Southern food blogger and award-winning cookbook author. Seen on QVC, Rachael Ray and more, she is a self-proclaimed accidental entrepreneur with a penchant for porches and sweet hospitality. Find her online at aimeebroussard.com.