I love a picnic. And we spent yesterday evening at the best picnic of the year.It was a party with friends and friends-of-friends, all in white at a waterfront park in Seattle. The location was a secret until late afternoon, then the text messages flew, the final arrangements were made, and we began to descend upon the appointed destination. White balloons fluttered at the park’s entrance, white lights lit the path to the water, and soon long tables were set with white linens and plates, flowers and candles. Feasts were laid out. The guests, of course, wore white. A band kept time to the festivities and after dark descended, hundreds of white sparklers lit the air. A very nice picnic indeed.
Luckily our friends are excellent cooks and we ate very well. (They are great photographers, too; you can see my friend Knox’s photos from last year here and my friend Tara’s photos from last night here.) There were meats and cheeses and chutneys and quince paste and three kinds of pickles. There were salads in a palette of brilliant hues: beets with oranges and pistachios, roasted cauliflower and chickpeas, salmon nestled into greens, plums on a bed of grilled kale with ricotta, a saffron coucous with raisins. There was a fancy cake. And, in a nod to the party’s white theme, I brought vegetables with this dip.I also brought it because it’s so good. It’s a savory, moreish way to eat your vegetables. It’s perfect with green beans but I couldn’t resist adding blanched carrots and crisp radishes to the plate as well. The more color the better, I say, at least on my plate.
Colorful Vegetables with White Dip (adapted from Gourmet): Okay, yes, the secret ingredient here is a can of anchovies. Brave them, try them, even if you’re skeptical. This is a gentle introduction for nonbelievers.
Drain and rinse a 2-oz. can of anchovies and dump them in a small pot with 2 big cloves of minced garlic, 2 Tbsp. water, and 2 Tbsp. sour cream (I used low fat). Simmer for 10 minutes over low heat, stirring often. Transfer the resulting anchovy-garlic paste to a food processor with another 1 c. sour cream and 1/3 c. mayonnaise and blend until smooth. Optional: add 1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice. (I like it both ways, with and without the lemon.) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill at least an hour before serving with blanched green beans or other blanched or raw vegetables.