Josef Centeno’s Recipe for Raw and Charred Winter Crudités With Ranch Vinaigrette

With an herb-flecked ranch dressing for dipping or drizzling, a mix of raw and roasted vegetables makes a perfect salad for riding out the transition from winter to spring in this recipe from L.A. chef Josef Centeno

By Kitty Greenwald in the Wall Street Journal


THAT STALWART OF Junior League luncheons, the crudité platter, wasn’t exactly a childhood staple for chef Josef Centeno. “I grew up eating Tex-Mex and barbecue,” said the San Antonio native.

 “American Cookery,” James Beard’s seminal 1972 tome, broadened Mr. Centeno’s perspective considerably. In it, Mr. Beard codified an American culinary canon just as Antonin Carême had done for French cuisine in the 18th century; its more than 1500 recipes extended even to dishes as simple as veggies and dip. “My aunt gave me that cookbook when I was 18, at the University of Texas and working as a dishwasher,” Mr. Centeno said. “Suddenly the range of chefs I thought about opened up.” Stints at such temples of fine dining as La Côte Basque in New York and Manresa in Los Gatos, Calif., eventually followed, and he had the opportunity to try his hand at cuisines from around the world.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and Mr. Centeno has injected new life into downtown Los Angeles with four singular restaurants: The first skews Spanish and Middle Eastern, the second Mexican and the third looks to Japan and Italy. His latest, Ledlow, specializes in American classics of the kind Mr. Beard valorized, passed through the prism of Mr. Centeno’s own sensibility. “It’s a natural progression for me,” he said.

This plate of crudités, Mr. Centeno’s second Slow Food Fast contribution, is pure Ledlow. Blistered broccolini, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts mingle with raw avocado, carrots, radishes and Asian pear slivers; the herb-flecked, creamy yogurt dressing can either be used for dunking or drizzled over top. “When I make this I get the best vegetables and fruits. With some served raw and others roasted, you get different textures and temperatures,” the chef said. “It’s a modern take.”

Raw and Charred Winter Crudités With Ranch Vinaigrette

Total Time: 20 minutes Serves: 4-6

·         15 Brussels sprouts, halved

·         ½ large head cauliflower, broken into bite-size florets

·         1 bunch broccolini [], ends trimmed

·         ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste

·         Salt and freshly ground black pepper

·         ¼ cup mayonnaise

·         ¼ cup Greek yogurt

·         ½ clove garlic, grated

·         ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste

·         1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped chives

·         1 tablespoon finely chopped dill

·         8 small carrots, halved lengthwise

·         1 small avocado, cut into thin wedges

·         6 breakfast radishes, halved or quartered, depending on size

·         ½ Asian pear, cut into thin wedges

·         1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. On a large baking sheet, toss Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccolini with 2 tablespoons oil and a pinch of salt. Roast until tender yet still snappy and browned in spots, about 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make ranch vinaigrette: In a small bowl, beat together mayonnaise, yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon chives and dill. Whisk in remaining ¼ cup oil and season with salt, pepper and additional lemon juice to taste. Set aside.

3. To serve, toss roasted vegetables with carrots, avocados, radishes, pears, parsley and remaining chives and arrange on a platter. Drizzle with additional oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve with dressing alongside or drizzled over top.