Oh, the holidays! So many gatherings and good times with friends and family. Also, a time to seriously impress in the kitchen. My friend, Shannon, and I created this vegan holiday spread to inspire your entertaining this season. Featuring an array of raw veggies and fruits, this spread also includes roasted romesco, squash, mushrooms and potato spheres, pickles, buckwheat crunchies brought back from Japan, candied hazelnuts and cranberry sauce from Starvation Alley.
We decided to center this spread around one main dip, a tofu-based Caramelized Fennel dip. If you are inspired, try adding a couple more dips to your spread and some cheeses or crostini and dried fruit. The sky’s the limit here. For styling, add whole fruits onto whatever board or tray you’re using. Think about varying pops of color and add any greenery you may be using at the end. Work in circular patterns, adding separate bowls and plates onto a larger tray helps create some height and natural pattern.
Caramelized Fennel Dip
Recipe written by Shannon Sims
[Makes 4 cups]
2 large fennel bulbs (and remaining frond stems)
1 large onion
4-6 garlic cloves
2 packages silken tofu, drained and dry as possible
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 jalapeño, diced
1 teaspoon + heavy pinch salt
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
[Optional:] 1 teaspoon fennel pollen
1.)Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Against the grain, slice both of the whole fennel bulbs into 1/4 inch slices on a slicer or with a large kitchen knife. Slice onion in half, then again into 1/4 inch half-moon slices, removing skin. Peel 4-6 garlic cloves, crush with the blade of the knife parallel to the counter. Toss together in a mixing bowl with enough olive oil to cover, and add a heavy pinch of salt. Spread evenly onto a baking sheet (or two, if needed) and bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring frequently to insure they brown evenly. Set aside to cool.
2.) In a high-speed blender or food processor, add two packages of silken tofu, the caramelized fennel and onion mixture, lemon juice and zest, jalapeño, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and fennel pollen, if using. Pulse until all is well incorporated. Use a rubber spatula to remove into a serving bowl. Can be served immediately or covered and chilled in the fridge. Can be made up to 3 days ahead and sealed in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.