Vegetables with Tangy Tahini Dip

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Yield: 8 portions

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Natalya really outdid herself on this ambitious arrangement! Vegetable or fruit trays are a sure way to please the majority of people at a potluck. Add some simple carvings, and you just may be bringing an empty tray home, while feeling guilt-free about the food you brought to the party.

DIRECTIONS

Ingredients for the dip (makes about 2 cups):

  • 1 yellow pepper, seeds removed and cut into pieces
  • ½ cup raw sesame tahini
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup avocado, peeled and pit removed
  • 2 pre-soaked dates, chopped
  • ½ tsp. Celtic sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • pinch curry
  • pinch ground coriander
  • ¼ cup water left from the dates

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend together until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, and set aside. When the vegetable tray has been put together, add the dip to the pepper bowl.

To make the Christmas tree:

  • Styrofoam cone from the floral department of the craft store
  • 4 lbs of Brussels sprouts, washed and pat dried
  • cranberries
  • jicama (for the star)
  • star shaped cookie cutter (or you can use the knife)
  • toothpicks
  • wax paper

Directions:  Wrap the Styrofoam cone with wax paper and secure with pieces of toothpicks. The idea is to not let food touch the foam. Starting from the top and going down the cone, attach the Brussels sprouts to the cone using half of a toothpick, and inserting it perpendicular to the cone. Continue going around the cone with the Brussels sprouts in this manner, until the whole cone is covered. Decorate your tree with fresh cranberries by inserting them in the gaps between the Brussels sprouts with the help of half of a toothpick. Slice a piece of jicama (or a turnip, or a thick carrot, or a beet), and using a star-shaped cookie cutter, make a star and insert on top of the tree with the toothpick.

To make 1 big penguin:

  • 1 eggplant, that is slightly bent, and still has a stem attached
  • 2 black-eyed peas for eyes
  • sharp paring knife

Cut the base of the eggplant at a slight diagonal, so that your penguin can stand unassisted. Peel away the skin in an oval shape to create the penguin’s “tuxedo” markings. Rub the peeled area with lemon juice to prevent it from turning brown. Make wings by carefully making shallow slits on either side, then gently pulling up. For the eyes, make slits with the end of the knife and insert black-eyed peas into the openings.  Baby penguins are made in exactly the same way, only with smaller eggplants.

To make a pepper serving bowl:

  • 1 red or green bell pepper
  • sharp paring knife

Wash the pepper, remove the top part with the stem, cutting in a zig-zag manner. Take off and save the stem “lid”, remove the seeds, and use it to cover your pepper bowl once you put the dip into it.

Final touch: adding the vegetables:

When all your carvings and arrangements are in place on the tray, arrange colorful vegetable pieces around them in any manner you wish. You can’t go wrong here. Most importantly, have fun! To store the assembled tray or any part of the arrangement overnight, spray with filtered water, place in a plastic bag, tie the bag up, and store in a cold place.