If you are hosting a party or a gathering of friends, you may wish to serve snacks or hors d’oeuvres. A vegetable relish tray can work for almost any occasion. If you want to be traditional, you can stick to the usual items. If you’re feeling creative, branch out and let the vegetable relish tray fit the theme of your gathering.
For a basic vegetable relish tray, include any or all of the common items on these trays. These include cherry tomatoes, carrot or celery sticks, pickles and gherkins, broccoli, cauliflower, sliced bell peppers of various colors, olives and cucumber slice. If you have a relish dish with separated areas, you can simply put one of these ingredients in each section. If not, use carrots, celery or parsley to divide your dish into sections. Serve the relish tray with a container of toothpicks for your guests to pick up the items if they do not want to use their fingers. Include at least one bowl of dipping sauce—which, if you’re not feeling creative, can be as simple as salad dressing straight from a bottle.
Let your vegetable relish tray serve as an expression of your creativity. Include fried eggplant slices, replace the pickles and gherkins with pickled beets and pickled red onion slices, and trade the carrot and celery slices for jicama slices. Instead of providing salad dressing as a dipping sauce, offer your guests harissa (a Tunisian pepper sauce) or tzatziki (a Greek condiment made of yogurt, cucumber and often mint). For an Indian twist, provide a section of broken papadums on the tray and offer tamarind sauce for dipping.
If you care about supporting local business and offering seasonal, organic ingredients—or if you simply want to offer your guests the freshest, best-tasting produce—visit the farmers’ market. As you walk through the stalls or booths, pick out fresh, flavorful items to include in your vegetable relish tray. Visit the market with an open mind and consider adding unusual items to your tray; slices of a fresh, perfectly ripe pomelo, for example, can be a pleasant complement to your otherwise traditional tray.
There is no need to limit yourself to vegetables. If you see a basket of perfect strawberries or glistening blackberries at the market, by all means buy them and include them in your tray. Add slices or chunks of cheese for a bit of variety--stick with cheddar or mozzarella for a basic tray, or use raspberry goat cheese or horseradish cheese for a more creative tray. Add a grain-based product to round out the tray; try slices of a baguette, pieces of sourdough bread, crackers, chips or pita bread.