Our plateau is inspired by two of the world’s more delicious things: a plateau de fruits de mer and a grand aioli. The key to the success of both is to have a variety of shapes, textures and flavors; the maxim holds true for achieving maximum veg tower impact and pleasure, too.
Step 1: Hit the market and pick up the loveliest vegetables you can find. You’ll want a mix of things you can eat raw, poached (or steamed or blanched), roasted, grilled and/or fried.
Step 2: Pick your dips. As with the veg, the goal is variety! We consider some type of aioli to be a must (roasted garlic or smoked paprika are favorites), plus something green and herby (salsa verde, perhaps?), something bright and sweet (beet muhammara or squash hummus), something oily (like dukkah, olive oil and lots of lemon zest), something creamy (garlicky labne!)…really, whatever you want to dip things in over and over will work.
Step 3: Prep your veg. Par-cook whatever needs it before hitting the grill (tiny potatoes, Japanese sweet potatoes, beets); blanch whatever’s getting blanched (haricot vert, asparagus); slice what’s getting roasted, and so on.
Step 4: This one’s the key to it all: Season EVERYTHING. The only things that should hit the plateau plain are the most basic crudité (fennel, cucumbers, radishes). Everything else should be seasoned — with olive oil and sea salt, at the very least — so that it tastes lovely even if you pop it in your mouth naked, without a lick of dip. (More on seasoning below!)
Step 5: Roast, grill, season, etc. Spoon the dips into little bowls and garnish them as needed. Stagger them on a platter, a board, tiered plateau, or whatever vessel you’re using to hold this array of earthly delights. Place the prepared vegetables around the dips in a semi-random fashion. (There’s no beauty in perfect order here! Delicious vegetable mayhem is the visual goal.) Tuck fennel fronds, carrot greens, rosemary sprigs or edible flowers here and there to make it extra pretty.
Step 6: Place on a table and prepare for “ooooooooh!”s. We view this as a use-your-hands-and-triple-dip situation, but we understand that sometimes plates and serving spoons have their place.
As promised, a word on seasoning: Start with olive oil and salt on most everything (except a few basic crudité) and go from there. We like to toss raw brocollini with olive oil, salt, pepper, chile flakes and lemon zest; blanched haricots verts get olive oil, salt and lemon zest or za’atar. We roast delicata squash and watermelon radishes with olive oil, salt and Aleppo pepper, and toss poached potatoes with olive oil and smoked paprika before their turn on the grill.
Here’s an example of a recent plateau:
• Dips: beet muhammara, carrot top pesto, salsa verde, smoked paprika aioli, za’atar with olive oil/garlic/lemon zest
• Raw: breakfast radishes, fennel, Persian cucumbers, tiny carrots, wee snacking peppers
• Roasted: watermelon radishes, delicata squash
• Grilled: tiny potatoes (par-boiled and tossed with olive oil/smoked paprika/salt/pepper), Japanese sweet potatoes (par-boiled, quartered and tossed with olive oil/salt/pepper), yellow and red beets (par-boiled and tossed with olive oil and salt), tiny pattypan squash (olive oil/salt), carrots (olive oil/salt/smoked paprika)
• Blanched: green and yellow beans (olive oil/salt/lemon zest)
Go forth and plateau!