A plant-based snack board sounds like something you might find at that new vegan restaurant downtown, but it's actually the answer for dinner when all you want to do is eat a bunch of snacks (in a wholesome "I have it together" kind of way). A veggie snack board is perfect for busy weeknights or Sunday dinner after a cookie-decorating marathon. It can also double as an appetizer for a low-key get together — when make your snack board all about the vegetables, it's a savvy way to get more in around the holidays.
Here's what you need to know about preparing a plant-based snack board, including a few tips on what to buy (basically all of it) and what to make (hardly any of it), and how to serve it to your vegan-dabbling and veggie-loving friends.
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 the shopping, prep, and assembly. Here are a few pointers.
- Start off with 4 to 5 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 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 your 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. Keep a running inventory of what you have at home in mind so you can decide what you can pull together from the pantry. Here's our list of what to buy, what to grab from your pantry, and some suggestions on what to make.
Things from the Grocery Store
Some of these things you may have on hand already if they are staples in your pantry, but if you're making a special pit stop for snack board supplies, make sure you have these components too.
- Pita bread
- Purchased falafel
- Vegan cheeses
Things from Antipasti Bar
The antipasti bar, sometimes labeled as the "olive bar," is just the place to find the special components to make a plant-based snack board magical.
- Marinated artichokes
- Marinated olives
- Stuffed grape leaves
Things from Your Pantry or Fridge
Plant-based is really just a fancy way to say "vegetable-heavy." Break free from the veggie tray cliche of broccoli, baby carrots, and cherry tomatoes here and choose vegetables that have lots of crunch and plenty of surface area for hummus dipping.
- Sliced cucumbers
- Sliced bell peppers
- Carrots, cut into sticks
- Celery, cut into sticks
- Radishes, quartered
- Any pickled vegetables (beets and grapes pair well with the other suggested components here too)
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 component first by roasting any hard vegetables or crisping the tofu. While these things cook, slice the pita and put hummus and the very soft vegan cheeses into small bowls. Set the dip bowls on the board first and layer the cut vegetables and jars of pickles among them. Be sure to include small knives for spreading dips, and forks for piercing pickles. A small bowl for olive pits is also a nice touch.