How to Build a Beautiful Vegan Cheese Board
There's nothing more stunning than a bountiful cheese board. But after deciding recently to go easy on dairy, I thought I'd have to say goodbye to them—that is, until I discovered some incredible vegan cheese options. To walk us through the steps of constructing the perfect vegan cheese board, I turned to Ian Martin, co-founder of plant-based, dairy-alternative brand, Misha's Kind Foods. Here's how to assemble a spread even your non-vegan friends will enjoy.
Combine an array of shapes, tastes, and textures
First things first, how many cheeses should go one the board? "The number depends on the size of the board and how many people you plan to serve," says Martin. "Six to eight cheeses are nice for four guests. A variety of shapes, tastes, and textures makes for a beautiful oral esthetic and an incredibly enticing cheese board." A soft burrata or mozzarella, a semi-soft gorgonzola, hard cheddar, asiago, and parmesan are all fine choices.
Misha's Black Truffle has become a hit in my house. It packs lots of umami with a rich, buttery and velvety texture; plus, it spreads well. Misha's French Connection is also a winner, with aromatic notes of Herbs de Provence. It resembles a French boursin or goat cheese. For cheese wheels, Miyoko's award-winning vegan cheeses, which come in eight flavors, are also a great addition. Once the cheeses have been anchored on the board, the fun begins as you build it.
Make sure to have plenty of sweet accoutrement
You want to have sweet and savory accoutrements that pair well with the cheeses. Think apples, guava, dried cranberries, kumquats, dried apricots, pomegranate, persimmon, quinces, winter pears, and passion fruit. As for spreads, you can't go wrong with ramekins (that offer height) filled with fig jam, or plum chutney. Honey is a cheeseboard staple that adds a nice touch for drizzling; go with a honeycomb for a more rustic look.
And don't forget savory
Once you've placed the fruits, add savory accompaniments like hummus with a swirl of olive oil, nutty and herbed crackers, crispy, crunchy okra, carrots, or cauliflower crisps. Fill open spaces with Marcona almonds, candied pecans, or shelled pistachios. Martin also likes to add piles of cinnamon, coarse salt, and flavored pepper for spice to a board.
Lean into the vegan thing with veggies and vegan meats
Don't forget the veggies. Salty pitted Kalamata olives, sweet mini peppers, snap peas, tomatoes, jicama, caper berries, endive, and radishes all make for a colorful, nutritious, and pretty presentation. Many stores now carry a variety of vegan sausages and prosciuttos, too. Add aromatic sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary, chives, and tarragon that pair well with the cheese and fruit to garnish the board.
Make it pretty
The board is a canvas, so the more varieties of colors and items there are on it, the more it stands out and is appealing. Consider a board of different wood grains, an agate platter. Find boards that have unique shapes, or that swivel; trays also present well. If you want to add flowers or fall foliage as décor, go for it. The key is to make it festive and inviting.
As for tools, mini knives with pearl handles, silver tongs, and fancy forks add a bit of pizzazz and elegance. And since we are still in the age of COVID, consider assembling two or more boards to minimize the number of guests hovering. Pre-slicing the cheese can also eliminate the need for guests to touch every handle. Martin says the only rule when constructing a delectable board is to, "think outside the box and have fun with it."