If you're hosting or contributing to a party and looking for an appetizer, a cruditÃ©s platter is always welcome. For years, Americans had a mundane approach to this French tradition by dipping veggie sticks such as carrots and celery into ordinary mayonnaise-based sauces. Raw broccoli and asparagus spears joined the usual suspects, and bowls of Russian dressing were displaced by more complex flavors such as blue cheese or mango salsa. The look changed too. It went from toothpicked vegetables and cheese cubes affixed to heads of cauliflower - and resembling alien spacecraft - to elegant displays on silver platters or earthenware pottery. But still the veggies remained a little ordinary.
This combination offers a variety of taste: bitter radicchio, buttery endive, licorice-laced fennel, crunchy red or green cabbages, and peppery radishes make a colorful display of vegetables with character. The vegetables are cut into wedges, each with a piece of core intact, which helps them hold their natural shape and provides an easy pick-up spot.
For the dipping sauce, combine aka miso, the dark reddish-brown salty bean paste, with sriracha, the fiery Southeast Asian chili sauce. These are softened by honey and apple juice. Sesame oil gives the dip a toasty taste with a velvety finish. You haven't done any heavy lifting, and your dish may be the hit of the party. -- DEBRA SAMUELS
(Food styling / Debra Samuels; Yoon S. Byun / Globe staff)