Q: What do you serve for a healthy appetizer?
A: Veggies and dip of course.
Q: What’s usually left over at the end of the party?
A: Veggies and dip. 🙁
No offense to anyone out there who has a blog about veggies and dip (and I’m sure there are many), but unless the vegetables are tempura battered, and the dip involves mayonnaise and cheese, and comes out of the oven golden and bubbly… there are probably a few more tempting appetizers on the table that catch your eye first. (By the way, I actually like veggies and dip, so if I happen to do a post in a few weeks on my favorite new crudité dip, please kindly disregard the above :)).
To shake things up a bit, but still keep it on the healthy side, try this hot, sweet, and spicy pickled vegetable recipe. A little bit different, and great for a healthier party appetizer, or just for snacking on while you’re making dinner. The secret ingredient is fennel, which when blanched, is mild flavored and slightly sweet, and usually makes people say, “What is that flavor I’m tasting?” It’s always a hit, even with those who swear they don’t like fennel. I like using firm vegetables in this recipe, because they stay crisp and crunchy when pickled, but feel free to substitute any favorites – green beans, peppers, zucchini, or even sliced cabbage would be great. These will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator, but I doubt they will last that long.
- 1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 3-4-inch strips (quartered or about ½ inch thick)
- 1 small head cauliflower, cut into 1- 1½-inch florets
- 1 bunch radishes, sliced into ¼ inch thick rounds
- 1 large fennel bulb, (trimmed of stalks), cut into ½-inch wide strips
- 3½ cups white vinegar
- 1½ cups white sugar
- 1¾ cups water
- 3 large garlic cloves, smashed
- 1½ Tbs Kosher salt (do not use iodized)
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- Bring a large pot of unsalted water to a boil, and add vegetables. Immediately remove pot from heat, and let stand for 2 minutes, uncovered.
- Drain vegetables in a colander, and spread out on a clean kitchen towel to cool.
- Bring remaining ingredients to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove pickling liquid from heat, and let cool to room temperature.
- Discard garlic, pour liquid into a large glass bowl or container with a lid, and add cooled vegetables to the pickling liquid.
- Make sure vegetables are well submerged. Chill, covered, at least 48 hours for flavor to develop.