With all the beautiful winter and autumn vegetables blooming in our gardens and a moody weather that gets people inside snuggling up in their warm houses, I feel its time to talk a bit about sharing platters. There is something so comforting about relaxing at home with friends chatting over food and drinks for hours and it is one of my favorite things to do in the world. So I thought it would be time to share some of my favorite ideas on how to create a vegan grazing platter or how some call it a crudités platter. Crudités are traditional French appetizers consisting of sliced or whole raw vegetables which are typically dipped in a vinaigrette or other dipping sauces. Following my step-by-step guide will help you to create a colourful, seasonal vegetable vegan grazing platter (or crudite like the French would say).
1. Plan your Platter
Think about what theme you would like to follow. This will make putting things together much easier. I am totally just throwing some ideas at you here and you can decide if it’s useful to you or not. You might want to go for a rainbow sharing platter so make sure you choose foods from every color. Or you might want to go for a harvest platter displaying all autumn harvest fruits/veggies featuring pumpkin, potatoes, carrots. You might want to go international and create a Mediterranean platter featuring different hummus versions and turkish bread or maybe even an Indian inspired platter with coconut chutneys accompanied by naan bread. Maybe you want to go for a Christmas platter featuring warm flavors of cinnamon and clove.
2. Start with the Base
The bigger in size, the more it will impress. Round and longish shapes will work best, it depends a bit on your table shape, if you have a long table you will want a longish board so everyone is in good reach of the food. I love natural wooden boards or a marble one even which is easier to clean afterwards. If you do not have a big enough board consider using an old baking tray. You could also use a tray or a pizza stone. Alternatively, a large cake platter might work nicely too.
3. The selection of crudites/foods
Always go for a colorful mixture of organic foods. What I mean by that is the more food colour shades you add the more beautiful it will look. Also go for wholesome natural foods and avoid highly processed foods. Try to keep a good balance of light veg and fruits but also good carbs as a tummyfiller. To the mixture of vegetable and fruits I add nuts, dips and spreads.
So let’s break the foods down for a second:
veg: use firm and crisps veggies like carrots, celery, olives, dried tomatoes, radish, Treviso radicchio, asparagus, tomatoes, steamed broccoli and cauliflower chunks, sugar snaps, baby corn, green beans, capsicum.
fruits: go for fruit that doesn’t go brown quickly and remains fresh for some hours. Grapes in all variations are perfect, strawberries, figs, cherries, blackberries work well too.
dips and spreads: hummus, vegan cheese, olive tapenade, peanut sauce, guacamole, miso cream cheese (1 cup coconut yogurt, black sesame seeds toasted, 1 tbsp. miso paste, salt) are all perfect dipping sauces.
tummy-fillers: whole meal bread, crisp bread, glutenfree seed bread, pita bread chips, chapatti, naan, pretzels, popcorn, baked or steamed sweet potato slices, marinated tofu
nuts & seeds: fill up those empty spaces on your grazing platter with little bowls of almonds, cashews or pumpkin seeds.
4. Preparation of food
Think about how to cut your veggies and fruits to keep it interesting on the eye. Don’t be afraid to cut carrots lengthwise or use a crinkle cutter. If you want to go super creative use a cookie cutter to cut for example cucumber slices in cute shapes. When using small veggies, consider creating little skewers to make eating a bit easier.
5. Arrangement of the sharing platter
This very much depends on the kind of theme you want to go with but try to keep it interesting by keeping it colourful and make sure foods are mixed up well so everyone can reach every condiment easily. I would always suggest to start with the biggest foods and gather the small ones around. Also if you have bowls with dips, it pays off to arrage them first as you won’t be able to shift them around once you have placed all the veggies/fruits.
6. Planning beyond your sharing platter
Don’t forget to serve some refreshing drinks with your Vegan Grazing Platter: go for light lemonades, flavoured waters or light wines. Also consider sustainable napkin options like recyclable or even better cloth napkins. Place little tasting plates and forks on the table in case your guests want to help themselves with their own plates. Also add little spread knives and spoons to your dips and spreads.
I really hope you enjoyed this little tutorial! Let me know in the comments my loves! For a German version of this article click here.