What Can I Put On A Vegan Charcuterie Board?
What can I put on a vegan charcuterie board is probably the question that is asked most often in forums for charcuterie lovers and charcuterie businesses. I have been keeping an eye on that space for a while now, and noted down all of the great answers, especially the unique or unexpected ones. So, here is my round up of vegan charcuterie ideas, loosely separated into theatrical categories ranging from center stage (the focal items on a charcuterie) and side stage (hovering just out of the spotlight but still important), to back stage (the somewhat boring, but necessary items) and glitterati (the garnishes and decorations that make your board look like a work of art).
Cheese and charcuterie boards come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes entire tables are filled to graze from. In saying that, don’t feel pressured to have twenty different items, especially on vegan boards as there are overall a few less options for ingredients. It is entirely acceptable to repeat items a couple of times in different spaces so that guests serving themselves can easily reach, and so that you don’t have to restock as often. Having a few different charcuterie knives or serving tools will make this easier as well.
This will be plant-based cheeses and meat alternatives, as they are the substance that you build a charcuterie board up around. Luckily, there are numerous plant based hard-cheese options on the market now, such as Culchered Aged & Smoky cheese, Blue Heron Creamery Lady Lupin and Nuts For Cheese Cheddar. For a long time, there were only spreadable vegan cheeses, but the variety now available allows for much more interesting inclusions. As with any charcuterie, try to include a variety of textures and flavors in your spread to cater to everyone, and to encourage diverse and unique combinations.
Meat alternatives are probably the most difficult aspect of a vegan charcuterie board, but here are some ideas. The first thing you can do is to use faux-meat products like vegan plant based deli slices, burgers, or harmless ham in place of the meat version. Another route is to replace meat with other protein heavy items, such as nut clusters, hummus, crispy chickpeas, celery filled with bean dip or nut butter, eggplant or tempeh bacon, aged tofu, plant-based chorizo dip or grilled portabello.
This is probably the easiest category for vegan boards as a lot of these items are plant-based anyway. This includes (in no particular order) dried apricots, grapes, fresh or dried figs, strawberries, apple, peach, pickles, pickled carrots, cucumber, olives, carrots, bell peppers, roasted peppers, cornichons, pineapple, dates, antipasti, sundried tomatoes, kale chips, endive spears, sliced radishes, pomegranate, pretzels
For me, having a couple of different spreads on my charcuterie or cheese board is important. Many are already 100% plant based, but it is definitely best to stick to fruit or vegetable spreads that don’t have animal gelatine, or hummus. Dips are more often milk based, and honey is a no-go for vegan boards. Caramelized onion spread is one of my go-to items – it appeals to a huge range of palates and pairs well with a variety of cheeses from Swiss to cheddars to brie and camembert… maybe its just me, but there aren’t many cheeses that I don’t enjoy with caramelized onion spread!
This category is all of your breads and crackers – basically the essential items for being able to eat the fun stuff on the cheese or charcuterie board. Aside from making sure that the items you use are plant-based, there isn’t really much to say in this category. There are two tips that I have which apply to vegan or not, and they are to try and find a variety of colors, textures and shapes, and to go for plainer flavors rather than heavily seasoned crackers.
I love making my own crostini from thinly sliced loaf, olive oil, salt, and pepper. I don’t usually add too much other seasoning as I like to let the cheese and charcuterie meats be the stars of the board. Vegetable chips, rice crackers and break sticks are all fair game for vegan charcuterie boards.
Herbs, vegetables, nuts and fruit make great garnishes for boards. Most stores sell a mix of fresh herbs in a ‘Poultry Mix’ bag, and I love to use these as there will be some soft sage leaves, sprigs of rosemary and thyme which stand up beautifully on a board, as well as parsley which gives a lovely green kick to the top of dips or preserves.
If you have a collection of small cookie cutters, you can cut fun shapes from slices of cheese or fruit to use as garnishes on your board. Even if you just cut up a majority of the fruit in regular shapes, you can just cut one or two to put on top for garnishes.
Nuts are also an important garnish or gap filler. They are generally added last, and placed in between other items so they are corralled, and don’t scatter everywhere! Almonds, walnuts and cashews are a couple of my favorites, but almost any nuts will do. I don’t recommend overly seasoned or salted nuts as that tends to overpower the cheese you will be pairing with, but sometimes it is fun to think outside the norm and theme boards definitely give rise to some fun ingredients such as spicy nuts, or even candy.