Crudités with Aniseed Salt and Goat Cheese-Buttermilk Dip
Simple yet sensational, this starter comes from Katie Button, chef and owner of Cúrate and Nightbell restaurants in Asheville, North Carolina. Here she combines rainbow carrots, watermelon radishes, cucumber, fennel and purple cauliflower for a colorful effect, but you can substitute other vegetables if you like. Thinly shaving some of the vegetables with a mandoline makes for an especially pretty presentation, but if you plan to serve this before sitting down to the dinner table, cut the vegetables into bite-size wedges or sticks so that they’re easier to eat with your fingers.
For the aniseed salt:
- 2 Tbs. whole aniseed
- 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
For the dip:
- 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml) sour cream
- 2 oz. (60 g) fresh goat cheese
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) buttermilk
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tbs. minced fresh chives
- 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
For the crudités:
- 1 small bunch rainbow carrots
- 6 to 8 radishes, such as watermelon or black radishes
- 1/2 head purple cauliflower
- 1 Persian cucumber
- 1 fennel bulb
In a small, dry fry pan over medium heat, toast the aniseed, stirring frequently, until very fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, grind the seeds until they are mostly pulverized but still retain a little texture. Add the salt to the spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind briefly to combine the salt with the aniseed. Set aside.
To make the dip, in a bowl, whisk together the sour cream and goat cheese until the mixture is completely smooth. Add the buttermilk, lemon zest and juice, chives, garlic and salt and whisk until thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.
To prepare the crudités, trim all the vegtables. Using a mandoline, very thinly slice the carrots lengthwise into ribbons and thinly slice the radishes into rounds. Using a knife, cut the cauliflower and cucumber into bite-size pieces. Cut the fennel bulb in half lengthwise, then cut each half into bite-size wedges.
Arrange the vegetables on a serving platter and sprinkle very generously with the aniseed salt. (Because there’s so much more aniseed than salt in the mixture, you can season the vegetables generously without oversalting them.) Transfer the dip to a small bowl and serve with the vegetables alongside. Serves 6 to 8.
Recipe courtesy of Katie Button, chef/owner of Cúrate and Nightbell restaurants, Asheville, North Carolina