For the vegetables:
An assortment of vegetables, cut to similar lengths and widths (enough to fill up 2 baking sheets); we used:
1 bundle asparagus
3 large carrots
1 sweet potato
1 crown broccoli
Cumin, paprika, salt, & pepper (to taste)
For the bearnaise sauce:
1 Tbsp plus 1 cup butter
3 Tbsp minced shallots
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
- First, make the bearnaise sauce. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and a pinch of salt and pepper, stirring to combine.
- Stir in vinegar, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until vinegar is evaporated, 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking shallots, stirring frequently, until tender and translucent. Transfer shallot reduction to a small bowl and let cool completely.
- Meanwhile, fill a blender with hot water to warm it; set aside. Melt remaining 1 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter is foamy. Transfer butter to a measuring cup.
- Drain blender and dry well. Combine egg yolks, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon water in warm, dry blender. Purée mixture until smooth. Remove lid insert. With blender running, slowly pour in hot butter in a thin stream of droplets, discarding milk solids at bottom of measuring cup. Continue blending until a smooth, creamy sauce forms, 2-3 minutes. Pour sauce into a medium bowl. Stir in shallot reduction and tarragon and season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Prep the veggies, making sure that the pieces are roughly the same size and thickness, so they cook at approximately the same speed.
- Spread the veggies in a single layer on two baking sheets. Coat lightly with olive oil and season to taste with salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika.
- Roast the veggies for about 25 minutes, or until the veggies are cooked through and beginning to get brown and crispy on their edges.
- Serve veggies on a platter and the bearnaise in a small bowl for dipping.
Now that we are living in Massachusetts, we are a convenient driving distance to many (most, really) of my family members — an exciting development after living on the other coast for a few years. And that means being around for family events: the normal birthdays, Christmas, and Thanksgiving, but also the celebrations that are more unique to my family, like the giant family reunion we host every Labor Day or “Turkey Kill” Day, which is exactly what it sounds like.
Some of these events come with their own, specific food traditions. For my family, Christmas often, but not always, comes with ham. Thanksgiving is pretty traditional around here, with a home-raised turkey, stuffing, various forms of cranberry, and a few pie options for dessert. Turkey Kill Day is always graced with my aunt’s delicious chili recipe. And there are other foods that aren’t tied to a specific tradition but pop up at various get-togethers over the course of the year. My family’s version of Mexican layer dip is always a big hit; there are always a group of us hovering over the golden, bubbling cheesy pan immediately after it comes out of the oven, risking burnt mouths to get in the perfect bite of cream cheese, vegetables, salsa, and cheese. Peanut butter blossom cookies are also often present (however briefly) at family parties. It doesn’t hurt that those are quite easy to make gluten free, so for events where all three of the family’s celiacs are present, they can be a handy dessert to have around.
James and I are big fans of traditions, both continuing them from both of our families and coming up with our own. But we’re also big fans of trying out new things, novelty for the sake of novelty. So when James suggested the other day that we make a roasted version of the normal party crudite platter, I was excited to try. Roasting tends to do magical things to vegetables, and dipping vegetables into a sauce is always a good choice, so why not combine the two?
We chose vegetables that are fairly tough and/or dense naturally so that they would stand up well to a long roasting period and would all take about the same time in the oven. We wanted this dish to be almost as easy to throw together as a regular, raw crudite platter, so cutting out the complicating factor of separate cooking times was important to us. We also wanted just enough seasoning on the vegetables themselves to complement a delicious but simple sauce like the bearnaise from Epicurious that we use here. You could definitely switch out the vegetables for your favorite roasting veggies and tinker with the sauce accordingly. For example, I think that roasted sweet potatoes and carrots would also go well with some sort of slightly spicy tahini sauce.
What about you, dear readers? What kind of appetizers do you like to bring to social functions?