If you are an ardent cheese lover but have transitioned into a vegan diet, you might feel like you’re missing out on one of life’s greatest pleasures. However, we are here to tell you that you don’t have to feel left out. You can still enjoy that same rich, creamy, and deliciously tangy essence of a traditional cheese platter with 100% plant-based cheeses! The world of vegan cheese has expanded beyond tofu and soy to include a variety of nuts, seeds, and even root vegetables. Let’s dive into the art of arranging a vegan cheese platter that will leave even the most ardent dairy lovers asking for seconds.
Before we get to introducing the stars of our platter: the cheeses, it’s crucial to understand the art of arranging a platter. A well-crafted cheese board is visually appealing, with a variety of textures, colors, and flavors that complement each other.
First off, select a board. It could be a wooden chopping board, a slate cheese board, or even a large platter. A good cheese board is like a blank canvas, ready to be filled with vegan goodness.
Next, you want to add in your cheeses. When selecting your vegan cheeses, aim for variety. There are numerous plant-based cheeses available on the market today, and several of them are made from nuts, which offer a richness and depth of flavor that’s surprisingly close to dairy cheese. For instance, almond cheese has a creamy texture and a delicate flavor, while cashew cheese can be made to resemble both soft brie and aged cheddar. Other great nut-based vegan cheeses to consider include macadamia and pistachio cheeses.
An exquisite cheese platter is more than just about the cheese. The accompaniments you choose can significantly enhance the overall taste experience, adding texture and additional flavors to your board.
Firstly, no cheese board, vegan or otherwise, would be complete without a selection of crackers. Opt for a mix of flavors and textures, such as seeded whole grain crackers, crisp rice crackers, or even flavored ones like rosemary or olive oil crackers.
Fruits, both fresh and dried, are another essential addition. They provide a sweet contrast to the savory cheese and are visually appealing. Think juicy grapes, sweet figs, tart berries, or crunchy apples. For dried fruits, options like apricots, cranberries, or dates work well.
Nuts and seeds add a lovely crunch to your board. Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, and pumpkin seeds are excellent choices.
Olives, pickles, and gherkins contribute a delightful tang that pairs well with the creamy cheeses.
Lastly, dips and spreads can add an extra dimension of flavor. Consider adding a sweet jam or jelly, like fig or strawberry jam, and a savory spread, such as a tangy olive tapenade or a spicy red pepper spread.
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try your hand at making your own vegan cheese, we have a couple of recipes for you. Homemade cheese has a freshness that’s hard to beat, and the process, while slightly time-consuming, is quite straightforward.
Almond feta cheese is a wonderfully versatile vegan cheese that’s perfect for your cheese board. It has a creamy texture and a slightly tangy flavor, similar to traditional feta cheese.
You’ll need blanched almonds, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and some water. You’ll also need a cheesecloth to strain the cheese. The process involves soaking the almonds, blending them with the other ingredients, and then straining the mixture to achieve that feta-like consistency.
This vegan blue cheese made from cashews is creamy, tangy, and has that distinctive blue cheese flavor, thanks to the addition of spirulina for a touch of ‘blueness.’
This recipe requires raw cashews, water, probiotic capsules (these help to ferment the cheese), refined coconut oil, nutritional yeast, spirulina, and salt. The process involves soaking the cashews, blending them with the probiotics and some water, and then letting the mixture ferment to develop that distinctive tangy flavor. Once fermented, you add in the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate your cheese until firm.
Once you’ve arranged your cheese board with all the cheeses, fresh fruits, dried fruits, crackers, nuts, dips, and olives, it’s time to enjoy. Remember, a cheese board is all about the communal experience of sharing and trying new flavors together. So gather your friends and family, pour some vegan wine, and make lasting memories over your gourmet vegan cheese platter.
A wonderful addition to your vegan cheese platter is a glass of vegan-friendly wine. Choosing the right wine to pair with your vegan cheeses and accompaniments can enhance the flavors, creating a more enjoyable dining experience.
If you’re wondering what makes a wine vegan, it’s all about the fining process. While wine itself is made from grapes, certain fining agents used to clarify the wine may include animal-derived products. Vegan wines use plant-based or mineral alternatives, such as bentonite clay or activated charcoal.
For a nut-based cheese like almond feta, a light and crisp white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or a dry Rosé would pair beautifully, complementing the creamy and slightly tangy flavor of the cheese without overpowering it.
If you’re serving a stronger flavored vegan cheese like the cashew blue cheese, consider pairing it with a bold red wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Merlot. These full-bodied wines can hold their own against the robust flavors of the cheese.
For your accompaniments, if they lean towards the sweet side with fruits and jams, a sweeter wine like a Riesling or a Moscato might be a good match. If your board has more savory elements like olives and tapenades, a dry and fruity red like a Pinot Noir could work well.
Remember, wine and cheese pairing is a matter of personal preference, so feel free to experiment and find combinations that you love.
If making your own vegan cheeses seems daunting, there are plenty of store-bought options available. These dairy-free alternatives are crafted with the same love for food and respect for animals as homemade vegan cheeses. Here are a few recommendations for the best vegan cheeses to include in your platter:
Miyoko’s Creamery offers a range of nut-based cheeses, like their Classic Double Cream Chive, which is rich, creamy, and made from organic cashews.
Treeline Treenut Cheese has a selection of French-style nut cheeses. Their Scallion French-Style Soft Cheese is tangy, creamy, and perfect for spreading on crackers.
Kite Hill is well-known for their almond-based cheeses. Their Soft Fresh Original has a light, delicate taste that can pair well with any accompaniment.
Vtopian Artisan Cheeses create small-batch, cultured cashew cheeses. Their Camembert is aged and has a deep, robust flavor that’s sure to impress.
Buying store-bought vegan cheeses not only saves time but also allows you to sample a range of flavors and textures that will make your cheese board truly irresistible.
Crafting a gourmet vegan cheese platter is not just about slapping together some dairy-free cheese and crackers. It’s about thoughtfully selecting and pairing different flavors, textures, and colors to create a harmonious and visually appealing spread. Whether you choose to make your own vegan cheeses or opt for store-bought alternatives, remember to include a variety of accompaniments that enhance the overall taste experience. Don’t forget to pair your cheese board with vegan wines and enjoy this delightful culinary journey with your loved ones. Embrace the art of plant-based cheese plating and relish the joy it brings to your vegan lifestyle.