Colourful sweet and savoury grazing boards

Grazing boards or sharing platters are an excellent way to prepare food when entertaining. They’re easy to put together and can look very impressive, so are a great idea if you’re pushed for time but still want the WOW factor. They can definitely look better than a bowl of crisps! Plus, it’s a perfect opportunity to eat seasonally as these foods will be the most delicious and nutritious. 

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There’s no particular science to putting them together but start by placing larger items (such as bowls of dip or cheeses) in the corners and the centre to create an outline, and then fill in the spaces with the smaller items. Go for a range of colours, textures, and sizes to create interest. Time to let the creativity flow! 

Savoury grazing boards

Centrepieces

  • Organic cheese wheel – cheddar, brie, stilton,
  • Vegan feta 
  • Organic goat’s cheese
  • Smoked tofu
  • Nitrate-free charcuterie, eg naturally cured salami
  • Tempeh bites

Colour

  • Sun-dried tomatoes or artichokes
  • Olives and capers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Dates or dried apricots
  • Sliced apple or pear
  • Grapes or figs
  • Pomegranate seeds or cherries
  • Roasted butternut squash pieces
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Green beans

Crunch

  • Gluten-free crackers
  • Oatcakes
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Smoked almonds
  • Carrot batons
    Celery sticks
  • Gluten-free breadsticks
  • Radishes
  • Cucumber slices

Depth

  • Hummus
  • Beetroot hummus
  • Olives
  • Capers
  • Guacamole
  • Baba ganoush
  • Tzatziki
  • Falafel
  • Cornichons or pickled onions

Interest

  • Handfuls of rocket or watercress
  • Fragrant sprigs of rosemary or sage
  • Edible flowers

Method

  1. Depending on the needs of your guests, choose a mixture of meats and cheese, or go entirely vegetarian or vegan. If guests have dietary requirements, such as dairy-free, it’s easy to adapt.
  2. Opt for the best ingredients that you can get, e.g. nitrate-free charcuterie, organic, free-range cheeses, and sugar-free, additive-free dips.
  3. Try to assemble the board not long before serving, so the softer elements don’t bruise or go dry.
  4. Don’t forget crackers, oatcakes, or celery for people to use with the dips and cheeses.
  5. Use a good variety of textures. For example, make sure to pick a few ingredients from each column so you have crunch and depth.
  6. If you are using larger fruits, like figs, pears or apples, tear or chop them into different shapes, so that it looks appealing on the platter and is easy to pick up.
  7. Dot around decorative small bowls to hold dips or items like olives and capers.
  8. With any jarred ingredients such as sun-dried tomatoes or artichokes, don’t forget to drain them before putting them in bowls. You can then drizzle with olive oil or chilli oil, and sprinkle with seeds or herbs to add more flavour and interest.

And grazing boards don’t have to be savoury! Here are some ideas for a gorgeous sweet platter.

Sweet grazing board

Centrepieces

  • Strawberries dipped in dark chocolate
  • Home-made flapjacks
  • Bowls of organic or vegan yoghurt sprinkled with cinnamon

Colour

  • Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries
  • Watermelon slices
  • Mango and pineapple pieces on cocktail sticks
  • Clementines or satsumas

 Crunch

  • Fruit and seed oatcakes
  • Walnuts or pecans
  • Almonds or hazelnuts
  • Dark chocolate bark

Depth

  • Dark chocolate dip
  • Honey
  • Halved passion fruit

Interest

  • Edible flowers
  • Sweet herbs such as tarragon or basil
  • Flaked almonds and dried coconut

Method

Follow the same steps as above, swapping out your savoury ingredients for sweet. 


The healthy bit 

Grazing boards look beautiful and you can get all sorts of tastes, colours, and textures in order to appeal to any guest. Most importantly, sharing platters are a great way to provide food for entertaining in a healthy way. You don’t have to resort to crisps and dips, or other processed snacks, plus, the variety of plant foods that you can include on your boards - fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, herbs and spices - all add up to your 5-a-day and more!

Grazing boards also give you the perfect opportunity to put the phrase ‘Eat the rainbow’ into action. Eating fruits and vegetables of all colours can impart great health benefits. Plants contain different pigments, or phytonutrients, which give them their distinctive colours, and different phytonutrients have distinctive health benefits. For example, research shows that anthocyanins, the phytonutrients in berries and grapes which gives them their lovely red, purple and blue colours, may have anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, and anti-microbial effects!

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, SS9 2UX
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Written by Alex Allan, Registered Nutritional Therapist BSc (Hons) NT, mBANT, rCNHC
Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, SS9 2UX

Alex Allan is a Registered Nutritional Therapist and member of the Guild of Health Writers. She specialises in gut and hormone health, and is passionate about food, cooking and health.. She writes regularly on her blog (alexallannutrition.co.uk/blog) and can be found on Instagram and Facebook (alexallannutrition).

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