A Plating Palate: Vegan Charcuterie

Posted May 6, 2015

Charcuterie traditionally refers to cured and otherwise prepared meat products. With spring finally upon us, I was inspired to create a ‘charcuterie’ board highlighting springtime produce. If you have a potluck, picnic or brunch coming up, here are some plating ideas for these concentrated, flavorful bites. This board also does well as a tapas-style lunch, or a stationary party appetizer.

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A large platter works great for this style. For a more rustic feel, choose wood; choose white for a cleaner, modern finish. Make sure to keep the rim clean. Keep enough space between items to create some negative space. This plating is easy to refill for a larger gathering, and does not get messy as quickly. Garnishes come in handy in this situation to add height and the illusion of effortlessness.

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This plating style is the perfect opportunity to expand your jar collection. If you do not have jars on hand, try arranging the items in ramekins or small bowls. And they don’t have to match, either. Symmetry works in this situation for the eye to successfully catch and focus on all components, as all items are equally showcased. If serving at a party, remember to place small utensils or tongs with each item, as well as small plates and napkins. These go nicely served with some bread or crackers.

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If you want to enjoy these components as an individual appetizer, they can arranged on smaller wooden or slate boards, or on simple white plates. Place the sauce on the bottom, making five shooting star-like formations and start building your plate along those sauce lines, but not covering it completely. Repetition is good, and odd numbers make it look more natural. Arrange each item four or five times on the plate, and move on to the next component, instead of arranging each pile to completion. Get creative, but take care not to overcrowd.

For cashew mozzarella:

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked
  • 3/4 cup hot water, plus more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon miso
  • ½ teaspoon truffle salt, or more to taste
  • 1 package (1 oz) Pamona pectin

For pickled baby turnips:

  • ½ lb baby turnips, peeled
  • 1 cup brown rice vinegar
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup

For spring onion puree:

  • 6 cups water
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1/4 cup salt

For grilled vegetables:

  • 1/2 lb baby carrots, peeled, halved
  • ½ lb king trumpet mushrooms, quartered lengthwise
  • ¼ lb shishito peppers
  • About 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

To serve:

  • ½ cup Dijon or mustard of choice
  • 1 cup mixed olives
  • Micro scallions, thyme and carrot tops, for garnish
  1. For cashew mozzarella: In a high speed blender, puree cashews until smooth. Slowly stream in 3/4 cup hot water, and add vinegar, miso, truffle salt and pectin powder. Dissolve the calcium activating packet in ¼ cup water and slowly stream into the blender while it is running until the mixture is thick and creamy. Pour into a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until the mixture has set, about one hour.  Slice into wedges, or other desired shapes.
  2. For pickled baby turnips: Combine turnips, vinegar, water, red chili flakes and maple syrup in a small saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain and cool.
  3. For spring onion puree: Bring the water to a boil in a medium pot. Add scallions and salt, and blanch for 30 seconds. Transfer to an ice bath, and rinse under cold running water to cool.
  4. For grilled vegetables: Preheat a large grill pan. Toss carrots, mushrooms and shishito peppers in olive oil and sea salt. Grill in a single layer for 2 to 3 minutes per side, flipping once. Cool slightly before serving.