The Christmas season is such an intense time for overindulgence. It seems the menu planning goes something like this: Turkey smothered in gravy? Check! Several varieties of cookies and decadent chocolates? Check! Copious amounts of alcohol? Check!
Now don’t get me wrong – I love every minute of it. Anyone who knows me is well aware of how much I love food – and that I can pack away a surprisingly large amount of it. But now that I’m a “thirty-something” it tends to catch up with me a bit faster than I’d like. It also seems a strange coincidence that those stretches of holiday gluttony coincide with the mysterious “shrinking” of several pairs of my pants.
I found the concept for this online (I can’t take credit for the creative vision involved in the placement of the broccoli), but since it was something I’d never heard of before, I felt compelled to share. I actually stumbled upon several photos of different vegetable trees, but had a difficult time finding good directions or recipes for making them. The best one I could find was for a ‘Christmas Tree Edible Centrepiece’ on Food.com. The instructions were OK – but I should note that Rita, the author of the recipe, suggests that 20 minutes is enough time to make this. Perhaps I’m creatively challenged, but I spent closer to an hour arranging all the vegetables.
I also changed my approach just a bit – I opted to put each veggie on a separate toothpick, to make it easy to remove, as opposed to pushing vegetables into the styrofoam (maybe it’s just me, but it didn’t seem that appealing to pull a veggie out of a nest of styrofoam). I also substituted a yellow pepper – cut with a star-shaped cookie cutter – for the tree topper.
Now, I’d like to draw attention to the fact that the vegetable tree is not only pleasing to the palate, but also to the eye – it makes for a natural conversation piece. So it gets people talking about vegetables – which is a bonus since they are often kicked to the side amidst all the good stuff on the holiday menu.
Don’t forget to serve up your veggies with a couple of dipping options – I went with roasted red pepper dip and hummous (store-bought since I’d spent all my time making the tree!). One of my friends suggested that a cheese fondue would also be the perfect compliment – perhaps alongside a basket of freshly-sliced baguettes.
So think of the vegetable tree the next time you’re planning a Christmas snacking menu – your gut will thank you, and maybe – just maybe – your pants will still fit you after New Year’s.