Cocktail parties are a festive way to celebrate any time of year. As people become more health-conscious, however, many avoid classic hors d'oeuvres featuring bacon, cheese and high-fat spreads. One alternative is a platter of colorful vegetables with a healthy dip. It's easy and economical -- and with proper planning, it can satisfy any guest list.
Calculating Amounts for a Party Vegetable Platter
Before shopping, determine your budget by deciding how much to spend overall. Divide that amount by the number of guests expected. Based on this figure, you may choose which items, and how much of each, will go on your platter.
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Figure about 4 ounces -- a quarter pound -- of veggies per guest. This works out to 1 pound for every four people. If 20 people are coming, buy 5 pounds, or for 100, get 25 pounds of produce.
Economical platters feature low-cost items like carrots, broccoli, zucchini, celery and green peppers. For a larger budget, move up to cherry tomatoes, colored peppers and baby vegetables. If the sky's the limit, choose organic produce and include veggies like sugar snap peas, miniature patty-pan squash, jicama, radishes and fennel.
Chop and arrange the vegetables on a platter, leaving a six-inch circle at the center. Vary shapes for visual interest.
Dip can be spooned into a hollowed-out bell pepper and placed in the platter's center. Surround the dip container with a textured leafy green like parsley or the tips of kale. For a healthy dip recipe, puree yogurt with canned white beans -- then add garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and your choice of fresh herbs to the blender or food processor.
If you're short on time, try a packaged platter. At large discount grocery stores, an inexpensive five-pound spread with dip will serve 20.