How To Make An Impressive Party Board
Let's not call it a charcuterie board. Let's make our own word: Party Board.
Charcuterie boards are usually populated by meats, cheeses, dips, spreads, and sometimes olives and seasoned nuts, and crackers or bread. This is obviously a challenge for anyone allergic to dairy, nuts, wheat, or legumes. You can read my thoughts on legumes in yesterday's article. So how do you go about making a delicious spread that's perfect for a party and safe for you and your guests? Just eliminate the bulk of it!
I'm serious, just cut it out entirely.
Starting from scratch, here's what I removed:
All varieties of cheese
Store-bought dips (often contain a cream base)
Salami (often contains lactose) and any cold cuts that are sliced on a communal slicer
Olives - if from an olive bar that also holds cheese, or olives stuffed with almonds
The EAF recipe is free from dairy, nuts, peanuts, wheat, egg, and soy
1. Dips + Spreads
You need to sauce it up. Dips, spreads, and oils add intense flavour and it's nice to have the interaction of dipping or spreading flavour onto something instead of eating it plain. I made three really simple flavours that you can easily prepare ahead of time.
Olive spread: Blend up half a clove of garlic, 1/4 cup good olive oil, 3/4 cup black olives (read the label!), and about half a handful of fresh parsley. Pulse until chunky. Drizzle with a good amount of olive oil once plated.
Red pepper spread: Roast 3 red bell peppers at 400F until the skin is blistered and they look utterly lifeless and shriveled. Peel the skin off and discard along with the seeds and stems. Blend with 1 tsp. salt, 1/3 cup good olive oil, 1 clove of garlic, and a few fresh basil leaves. Pulse until almost smooth. Garnish with basil leaves once plated.
Roasted garlic oil: cover a whole clove of garlic in tinfoil and roast it at 400F for about a half hour to 40 minutes. Once cool enough to handle blend it up with 1/2 tsp salt, some freshly ground black pepper, and 1/3 cup olive oil.
2. Assorted Proteins
Protein is often the star of the show. It helps sustain you and is very important if you're serving drinks too. I used prosciutto because it's a solid piece of meat that I can buy already sliced in packs. Most brands just contain pork, salt, and pepper, but be sure to read it of course. I also gave some shrimp and scallops a quick stir fry in olive oil with salt and black pepper. But you can steam them too. If you or your guests has a seafood allergy I would suggest cutting up cubes of chicken or beef to stir-fry or grill. Keep the meat simple so it lets the sauces shine.
3. Things to dip
Aside from protein you'll need some other things to dip and snack on. I used these lovely carrots with the stem nubs on, as well as red pepper (I roasted an extra one while making the dip), and zucchini "chips". I tossed it all lightly in olive oil and then roasted at 400F for 45 - 55 minutes. Flip the zucchini partway through so they crispen on both sides. You can of course do this with thinly sliced potatoes as well. Who wouldn't love that?
How you present the party platter is just as important as the ingredients you choose to include. Line the tray with basil leaves, dill, or whatever herbs you have on hand that are fresh and bright. Pick veggies from all colours of the rainbow, tuck in some pear slices or berries, include a little bowl of pumpkin seeds and a small pot of honey. Be creative and make your party board shine.
I promise no one will even notice that the cheese is missing, they'll be too busy savoring zucchini chips with black olive spread.