How to Make a Plant-Based Charcuterie Board, According to a Cheese Plate Expert

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It's safe to say that charcuterie boards are currently in vogue, especially when it comes to holiday parties. But, what happens when you have vegan and vegetarian guests who can't partake in the meat or dairy sections of your cheese plate? According to charcuterie expert Marissa Mullen, it's all about creating the perfect plant-based board.

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To get the scoop on how to create charcuterie boards for vegans and vegetarians, we reached out to Mullen, who is collaborating with tofu brand House Foods America.

"While crafting a tofu charcuterie board, it's important to consider flavor pairings and textures. Charcuterie boards tend to have many savory, decadent, and creamy notes incorporated into the cheese varieties and cured meats," Mullen tells Hunker. "With tofu, one can mimic these details by utilizing spices, marinades, and herbs. My go-to tofu recipes for a charcuterie board include tofu 'bacon' made with House Foods' Organic Extra Firm Tofu for an umami, smoky element, extra-firm tofu crackers for some crunch, and a soft tofu green goddess dip." (Recipes below!)

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In addition to tofu, Mullen also recommends using "briny and salty plant-based items like roasted red peppers, marinated olives, and cornichons." For a refreshing, crunchy bite, she likes to add fresh produce — like cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and radishes — along with smoked, spiced, and salted nuts, bread, and crackers.

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When it comes to creating a vegetarian charcuterie board, you'll want to use cheese pairings to your advantage. Mullen provides the following example: "Because tofu bacon has a smoky, savory flavor, it would pair well with smoked cheddar or a robust blue. I'd also pair it with a nutty gruyere for something less intense." On the other hand, if you're using an herbaceous dip like tofu green goddess, you should instead reach for a fresh-tasting cheese, like feta or goat.

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Ultimately, if you're creating a plant-based charcuterie board, Mullen advises, "Be intentional with the items on the board! I notice that sometimes people focus too much on the aesthetics of a charcuterie board instead of the actual pairings." Specifically, you'll want to think about how all your different flavors work together to create a unique board.

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If you're still stuck on how to create the perfect plant-based board, Mullen offers the following outlines and recipes:

Vegan Chips and Dip Charcuterie Board

  1. 'Cheese':​ tofu queso using House Foods Organic Soft Tofu
  2. 'Meat':​ tofu chorizo using House Foods Organic Firm Tofu
  3. Produce:​ cucumbers, celery, watermelon radishes, carrots
  4. Crunch:​ crispy tofu crackers using House Foods' Organic Extra Firm Tofu, potato chips, tortilla chips
  5. Dip:​ spinach and olive tofu dip and tofu ranch dip using House Foods Organic Soft Tofu
  6. Garnish:​ fresh cilantro

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Tofu Queso

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of House Foods America Soft Tofu
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon Frank's Red Hot Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • Generous amount of salt and fresh black pepper to taste

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Instructions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Tofu Chorizo

Ingredients:

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  • 1 package of House Foods America Firm Tofu, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl, combine crumbled tofu, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, adobo sauce, and spices.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  3. Add seasoned tofu crumbles and sauté for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until browned and crispy.

Crispy Tofu Crackers

Ingredients:

  • ½ package of House Foods America Extra-Firm Tofu
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Thinly slice the tofu into 1/8-inch strips.
  3. Coat evenly with a light layer of kosher salt.
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the tofu is golden brown and crispy.

Spinach and Olive Tofu Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of House Foods America Soft Tofu
  • ½ cup spinach, steamed
  • ¼ cup pitted green olives, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Tofu Ranch Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of House Foods America Soft Tofu
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened oat or almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Vegetarian Sweet and Smoky Charcuterie Board

  1. Cheese​: smoked cheddar, Le Cremeaux
  2. 'Meat'​: smoky tofu bacon using House Foods' Organic Extra Firm Tofu
  3. Produce:​ cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers, Spanish olives, cornichons
  4. Crunch:​ everything-seasoned tofu crackers using House Foods' Organic Extra Firm Tofu, breaded basil tofu bites using House Foods Organic Firm Tofu, smoky pecans
  5. Dip:​ savory green goddess tofu dip using House Foods Organic Soft Tofu
  6. Garnish:​ sage, rosemary

Tofu Bacon

Ingredients:

  • ½ package of House Foods America Extra Firm Tofu
  • ½ cup of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Slice tofu into thin 1/8-inch strips.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, soy sauce, tomato paste, maple syrup, liquid smoke, salt, and pepper.
  3. Place the tofu in a shallow baking dish and cover with liquid. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1-4 hours (can go as long as 24 hours).
  4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a non-stick baking tray with a light layer of oil.
  5. Evenly space the tofu strips on the tray and bake for 20 minutes. Flip and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until browned and crispy.

Everything-Seasoned Tofu Crackers

Ingredients:

  • ½ package of House Foods America Extra-Firm Tofu
  • 1 tablespoon everything bagel seasoning

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Thinly slice the tofu into 1/8-inch strips.
  3. Coat evenly with everything bagel seasoning.
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the tofu is golden brown and crispy.

Breaded Basil Tofu Bites

Ingredients:

  • ½ package of House Foods America Extra Firm Tofu
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup unsweetened oat or almond milk

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Slice the tofu into even 1-inch cubes.
  3. In a shallow dish, combine the panko, basil, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
  4. In a small bowl, add the milk.
  5. Dunk each cube of tofu into the milk, followed by the panko mixture, covering all sides.
  6. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 40-50 minutes until brown and crispy, flipping the tofu every 15 minutes.

Savory Green Goddess Tofu Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of House Foods America Soft Tofu
  • ½ avocado
  • Juice from ½ a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • ½ tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
  • ½ tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

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