The charcuterie board has become a very popular restaurant and party starter, but for us plant-based eaters, it is something we usually steer swiftly away from. In its truest form, a charcuterie board is a snack platter of preserved meat with other snacks that complement it. This typically comes in the form of fruits, cheese, nuts, and crackers.
In reality, modern charcuterie boards can often look like cheese boards, primarily featuring fine cheeses with possibly a sampling of meat and the other aforementioned accouterment. And, while the charcuterie and cheese board are not technically the same, neither one is doing the vegans any favors.
As is often the case, it’s time to make a plant-based version, and the prospects of doing so are pretty exciting. After all, finger foods are fun for all, so shouldn’t we plant-based people get some of the action, too?
Vegan “Meats” for the Board
Charcuterie boards are the home of cooked meats, often porky type stuff like salty, cured hams and sausages. Of course, there are many highly-processed, store-bought vegan versions of this stuff, but why not keep things healthier and homemade? What could the plant-based board use instead? Homemade vegan bacon!
There are many types of smoky, salty vegan bacons that could create a variety of flavors and textures. Carrots, coconuts, and mushrooms (especially shiitake) are commonly used for this. Tempeh and tofu can also be marinated to create different flavor profiles and crisped on cast iron skillets to give them a wonderful texture.
Vegan “Cheeses” for the Board
Cheese and crackers are a classic favorite for so many, and there have been some true leaps and bounds in the plant-based cheese world of late. One could easily buy a selection of vegan cheeses at the store, but again, it’s fun to make them at home and often quite simple.
For a good appetizer or snack board, we can go for a variety of different flavors and textures with our “cheeses”. We can have everything from spreadable cream cheeses to baked brie to sliced, crumbly, and crusted cheese. Here are 25 vegan cheese recipes to check out.
DIY Crackers for the Board
If one goes to the trouble of making the “meats” and “cheeses” for a charcuterie board, why not add homemade crackers to the mix as well? This could take the typical cracker to a whole new flavor level and rustic appeal that fits perfectly with this dish.
Plus, these crackers can come with healthy fats and extra protein when they include the likes of flax seeds, chickpea flour, pumpkin seeds, and more: Salted Rosemary and Chickpea Crackers, Spelt-Oat-Chia-Flax Crisps, Garlic and Herb Flax Crackers, and Raw Pumpkin Seed Crackers with Spinach.
Another option would be to delve into some funky homemade chips, such as crispy baked zucchini chips, easy homemade pita chips, or chili-lime spiked corn chips.
Choosing Awesome Board Backers
Once the three basics are in place, it’s time to have some fun with the extras. These are tasty little morsels that can go between bites of the mainstays, or they can get stacked on the cracker right along with “meats” and “cheeses”. What’s certain is that now is not the time to get boring. It’s time to go for some really nice treats!
- Pickled items are perfect for the charcuterie board, and it’s a great way to use some of those homegrown veggies out the in the garden. With some fresh herbs, apple cider vinegar, and salt, it’s easy to whip up pickled okra, green beans, beets, green tomatoes, onions, radishes, and more.
- Roasted stuff also works wonderfully on the board, and this, too, can be fresh from the garden and roasted at home. Peppers, eggplants, and cherry tomatoes all work wonderfully.
- A nice dip is an amazing addition to a board. This could be an unusual hummus, salsa, chutney, or any number of other fantastic dips/spreads that work well with crackers and chips, or even some carrot and celery sticks.
- Otherwise, dry cured olives, marinated artichoke hearts, dehydrated figs, a sprinkling of fresh fruit, and some nice nuts (go with something you don’t always get) can fill in gaps.
Add Some Wine and Some Friends
One of the best parts is the social aspect. They are built to share, and they are a perfect accompaniment to a glass of wine. Put those two ingredients in the mix, and that’s going to make for a good time. This is a divine way to have a picnic.
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