This holiday season, there's a strong possibility you might be cooking, baking, or buying something gluten-free. Perhaps it's for yourself or a family member or friend. That's why if you're making up a tray of snacks for dinner — basically our favorite way to "cook dinner" and casually entertain around the holidays — it's good to have a gluten-free number up your sleeve that everyone can enjoy.
What Is a Snack Board?
Let us introduce you to the snack board — the casual, anything-goes cousin to the sometimes-stuffy cheese board. You might even say it's like a Lunchable, except for adults and families, and more often an option for dinner rather than lunch. In fact, snack boards are what you should make when don't feel like cooking. All the effort goes into the shopping, prep, and assembly. Here are a few pointers.
- Start off with four to five main items. Serve them on a board, tray, or plate and add more items if more people are going to be in on the munching.
- Since snack boards about are about causal meals on busy nights, rely on pantry staples, store-bought items, or even leftovers when making them.
- Choose foods that are good at room temperature. This is about snacking, so make sure things can last the length of your meal.
- Always include vegetables — even when you snack board is full of meat and cheese.
- Cooking is not required, so if you do make something, keep it simple. This whole fuss-free endeavor should only take 15 minutes to throw together.
Think Like a Snack Board Architect
Making a successful snack board does requires some strategy, but once you understand the concept, it's easy to cobble together the snack board in your mind while you walk from the office to your car.
Our strategy for making a gluten-free snack board starts with choosing items that are inherently gluten-free. That's why you'll see a ton of veggies on this board. From there we're adopting the philosophy of buying what takes too long to reverse engineer. Making gluten-free breads, crackers, and the like is a great project, but don't sweat it for these simple snack boards. Buy that stuff! Here's our list of what to buy, what to grab from your pantry, and some suggestions on what to make.
Things to Pick from the Grocery Store
Some of these things you may already have on hand already, but if you're making a special pit stop for snack board supplies, make sure you have these components too.
- A rotisserie chicken
- Plantain chips
- Pirate's Booty (not all puffed corn snacks are certified gluten-free, so be sure to read the labels on these and other snack foods)
- Rice cakes or crackers
Things from Your Pantry or Fridge
You could make a gluten-free snack board entirely from these items alone, but then it would just be a veggie tray. Chances are high you have four or five of these waiting to be eaten right now.
- Sliced cucumbers
- Sliced bell peppers
- Carrots, cut into sticks
- Celery, cut into sticks
- Radishes, quartered
- Any pickled vegetables
- Greek yogurt for dipping
- Sweet potatoes, thinly sliced, roasted, and turned into chips for dipping
Things to Make
One thing that sets snack boards apart from cheese boards is the flexibility to include a cooked component. You can roast a few sweet potatoes (or even winter squash) or try one of the recipes below.
Building Your Snack Board
Once you've got all your snack board supplies collected, start with the cooked components first by roasting any hard vegetables or steaming the edamame. While these things cook, season the yogurt with lemon juice and fresh or dried herbs. Set the dip bowls on the board first and add the cut chicken and jars of pickles among them. Be sure to include small knives for spreading dips, and forks for piercing pickles.