How To Create An Epic Vegan ‘Cheese’ Platter (With 3 Spread Recipes)

I’ve been dying to make a beautiful and festive platter all summer long, especially after seeing them all over Instagram and Pinterest. (@elsaswholesomelife, @lichipan, and @apairandaspare were my biggest inspirations.) Then a few Saturdays ago, my boyfriend and I happened to find the most perfect wooden boards at ABC Home (with a 20% sale!), and we picked up the juiciest figs, berries, and currants at the farmer’s market nearby. I knew it was meant to be.

Since my body doesn’t digest dairy very well, I decided to make a vegan platter. Instead of using three different cheeses like a standard platter, I used two of my go-to hummus recipes and a vegan cheese dish as the heroes—my Easy Homemade Hummus, Pretty in Pink Beet Hummus, and Baked Almond Feta (scroll down for recipes and tips). The spreads are super flavorful and there’s a good mix of sweet and savory bites, so you won’t even miss the cheese.

This dream platter would be amazing for any social gathering, whether it’s a rooftop picnic or a girl’s night in. You can switch up the ingredients to whatever’s in season and adjust the size of the platter, as long as the board feels vibrant, colorful, and abundant. Think of this post as a helpful guide, and put your own twist on it!

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • A pretty wooden board
  • A minimum of 3 cheeses/dips (I used all vegan recipes. Scroll down for recipes!)
  • 3 savory extras
    • Marinated olives
    • Marinated red peppers
    • Nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, etc.)
  • 3 sweet extras
    • Fresh fruit (grapes, blueberries, strawberries, apricots, fresh figs, pear)
    • Dried fruit
    • Jam (my favorite Rawberry Chia Jam recipe is below)
  • Crackers
  • Arugula (and lots of it!)
  • High-quality dark chocolate (I love Hu Kitchen’s Salty Chocolate Bar, which is refined sugar, gluten, and dairy free)
  • Optional add-ons
    • Colorful raw veggie sticks: Red peppers, carrots, celery, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes
    • Wine of choice or sparkling water with lemon slices and fresh herbs
Some tips & tricks:
  • Imperfect is perfect when it comes to laying out these boards. Don’t make it too symmetrical, and let it flow organically.
  • The goal is to fill the platter up as much as possible, with no empty spaces showing through. It should be overflowing with a feeling of abundance (think Game of Thrones feast). Get lots of arugula and blueberries—they’ll be your best friends.
  • Save money by shopping in-season fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market and using nuts and dried fruits from your pantry.
  • The more people you’re serving, the better the value—so invite some friends over :)
How to lay it all out:

While I was creating my very first platter, I found this post, How To Create A Serious Delicious (& Instagrammable) Platter by a pair & a spare, to be extremely helpful and followed it pretty closely. Be sure to check it out for detailed tips and step-by-step photos. Here are some of my own takeaways:

  1. Layer arugula generously before you lay ingredients on top. It will help make the board feel more full, prop up the ingredients, create dimension, and help everything stay in place.
  2. Place the three hero dishes/dips in different parts of the board. These will be your anchors.
  3. Swirl crackers around the hero dishes. Let it flow organically, and don’t put all the crackers out when serving—refill them as you need.
  4. Start layering and adding ingredients. This is where you can get playful and have some fun! Ingredients like marinated olives, red peppers, or veggie sticks can go into smaller bowls, while fruits can go directly on the board.
  5. Keep layering and filling in the empty spaces with more arugula, blueberries, and nuts.
  6. Finish up by adding pieces of really good dark chocolate—my favorite part!

PRETTY IN PINK BEET HUMMUS

This gorgeous pink spread brightens up the platter and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. The roasted beets make the hummus extra flavorful, earthy, and slightly sweet.

Ingredients
  • 1.5 cups of cooked garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small beet, scrubbed, stems removed
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Optional
  • Chopped parsley leaves for garnish
  • Sprinkle of pine nuts or sesame seeds for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. On a baking tray, place beets on foil, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and wrap tightly in foil. Roast for 40-45 minutes, until beets are tender enough to run a knife through easily.
  3. Let beets cool to room temperature, then peel the skin under running water with your hands. Add beets to food processor and process into smaller pieces.
  4. Add remaining ingredients except olive oil into food processor and blend until smooth. While hummus is mixing, drizzle in olive oil and blend until creamy and smooth. Chill in fridge until ready to serve. Garnish with parsley, pine nuts, and sesame seeds just before serving. Hummus keeps well in the fridge for up to a week.

HOMEMADE HUMMUS

Hummus is a must for any platter. It’s the perfect healthy dip for finger foods like crunchy raw vegetables, crackers, and pita chips. Making your own dip will give you a lot more bang for your buck, allow you to adjust the flavors, and taste much fresher than store-bought hummus. This recipe is rich, creamy, savory, and perfectly balanced.

Ingredients
  • 1.5 cups of cooked garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to taste
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Optional
  • About 1/2 tsp of cumin, to taste
  • About 1/4 tsp of coriander, to taste
  • Garnish with dash of paprika and chopped cilantro or parsley
Instructions
  • Add all ingredients except olive oil into food processor, and blend until creamy and smooth.
  • While hummus is mixing, drizzle in olive oil and blend until creamy and smooth.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding more lemon juice, olive oil, or salt. Add a little bit of water to thin. Transfer to an airtight container and chill in fridge until ready to serve. Drizzle with extra olive oil and garnish with cilantro or parsley just before serving. Hummus keeps well in the fridge for up to a week.

BAKED ALMOND FETA ‘CHEESE’ WITH HERB OIL

This is a miracle vegan cheese. I’m usually pretty picky about these nut-based ‘cheeses’, but this one seriously tastes like real cheese and has the crumbly texture of feta. Baking the final dish makes it warm and crispy on the outside, but soft and gooey on the inside.

As a heads up, it will be kind of a lengthy process and you will need some patience—you need to soak blanched almonds for 24 hours, blend, chill overnight, and bake it for 35-40 minutes. But the final ‘cheese’ is worth the wait! I would recommend this recipe for special occasions.

Here’s the recipe I used from the Vegetarian Times: Almond Feta Cheese With Herb Oil

NOTE: I simply adjusted the recipe and added 2 garlic cloves and 1 tsp of salt (anymore was too salty for me). I used a Vitamix to blend the nuts and create a smooth and creamy ‘cheese’.

Visually, I found this article with step-by-step photos to be really helpful.

RAWBERRY CHIA JAM (BONUS)

If you’re looking for a sweet spread, try this chia jam. It’s my favorite homemade jam of all time. So refreshing, healthy, and versatile! It’s super delicious spread on toast or crackers. Here’s my step-by-step recipe.

I hope this post was helpful! Let me know if you whip up your own summer platter. Would love to see what you create! Leave a comment or #thehealthyhour on Instagram.

–Stephanie

Photographs by Stephanie Park

P.S. The hummus and beet hummus make amazing toast toppings.


Don't Miss A Post!

Sign up to get our latest recipes, interviews, and tips delivered straight to your inbox.