I love creating a beautiful and tasty spread that shocks people when they learn that everything on the table is vegan and gluten-free (and grain-free except for the stuffed grape leaves which has rice in them). I recently hosted a baby shower, and it was so much fun making charcuterie boards filled with beautiful fruits, vegetables, vegan cheeses, nuts, dips, crackers, tea sandwiches and cookies. This particular menu is ideal for an afternoon celebration, and I am going to breakdown all the details here so that you can recreate it! Don’t let the fact that it is vegan and grain-free fool you; this spread will impress your guests and they will thoroughly enjoy it! The key to setting up a beautiful spread like this is to get a bunch of wooden boards to lay out the variety of finger foods that you are going to serve. Using wooden boards make is easier to organize your assortment and creates a pretty presentation for your food. You can find a large selection of wooden boards at Home Goods that are reasonably priced. I like to use a mix of different shapes and sizes to make the arrangement visually pleasing and easy to organize. You can get super creative and mix things up, but this is what I used to fill my boards to celebrate the life of my friend’s new baby.
Celebration of Life Menu
- Chickpea egg salad tea sandwiches
- Pesto, tomato, basil & vegan mozzarella tea sandwiches
- Herbed cream cheese, cucumber and arugula sandwiches
I used a grain-free bread from Plantiful Kitchen for my tea sandwiches but if you don’t have access to that brand, you can use gluten-free sandwich bread. I personally love the Plantiful Kitchen loaves because the bread has an amazing texture and a moistness that is delicious even untoasted. I find that many gluten-free breads need to be toasted because the texture doesn’t match up to a regular sandwich bread. Regardless of which bread you use, the key to a yummy tea sandwich is to trim the crust and cut the bread into small squares for easy two-bite eating.
Chickpea “Egg Salad” Tea Sandwiches
I used my chickpea “egg salad” recipe and put it in the food processor to mash it up so that it was easier to adhere to the sandwich bread without falling apart. In the recipe, I give the option to leave the chickpeas whole (I like this version when using it as a salad topper) or mashing it up in a food processor (for serving in sandwiches). You definitely want to give the salad a whirl in the food processor before building your tea sandwiches. I like to top each tea sandwich with a sprig of fresh dill; it looks pretty and gives it a little more taste.
Pesto, Tomato, Basil & Vegan Mozzarella Tea Sandwiches
I used my avocado pesto recipe from my Roasted Vegetable Pesto Pasta recipe. If you are tight on time, Trader Joe’s has a good vegan pesto and if you are in the San Diego area, Jimbo’s has an even better vegan pesto that they make in the store. For the vegan mozzarella, I think the Miyoko’s Creamery is the best option for this sandwich. I layer each sandwich with a generous scoop of pesto, a tomato slice, mozzarella, and a basil leaf. It is simple but so delicious!
Herbed Cream Cheese, Cucumber & Arugula Tea Sandwiches
This sandwich is simple but is one of my favorites: I love the combination of the herbed cream cheese with the crunch of the cucumber and the peppery flavor of the arugula. Simple but so delicious. You have a few options for the herbed cream cheese. For this particular party, I used the Boursin Vegan Cheese spread (you can get it at Trader Joe’s). If you want to make your own, you can chop up a variety of herbs and blend it into a vegan cream cheese. If you want to go next level and make your own cream cheese, you can use my recipe for the Herbed Cashew Cheese Spread. Regardless of which cheese you use; you will want to spread a generous amount of cheese on each piece of bread and top with thinly sliced cucumbers and a few leaves of arugula.
- Passion Fruit
- Pomegranate Seeds
This arrangement of fruit is beautiful; especially if you are using slices of passion fruit. Passion fruit is often overlooked because many don’t realize that beneath its prickly/bumpy skin is a beautiful and sweet fruit. When sliced, it creates a beautiful pattern, and it has become one of my favorite fruits. The key to arranging your fruit is to cut it in a way that looks nice and easy to serve. There are many videos online that show how to cut the mango and the kiwi like how it is displayed in these pictures. It is super easy and adds to the visually pleasing display of your fruit.
Dried Fruit & Nuts:
- Dried Persimmons
- Dried Apricots
- Truffled Marcona Almonds
- Candied Pecans
You can use any assortment of nuts and dried fruit, but these are my personal favorites. If you are using candied pecans, just make sure you chose a vegan version because some are made with real butter. If you want to make your own, you can use my recipe for Candied Pecans.
- Steamed Asparagus
- Roasted broccolini
- Snap peas
- Carrot sticks
- Sliced carrots
- Sliced cucumber
- Jicama Sticks
I like to throw in a few cooked vegetables into the mix on my board. Some of my favorites include steamed asparagus, roasted cauliflower, roasted Brussels sprouts and roasted broccolini. For this spread, I used the steamed asparagus and the roasted broccolini. To roast the broccolini, I cut eat steam lengthwise in half to make the broccolini long and thin. I toss the sliced broccolini in olive oil and season with sea salt and garlic powder before putting them in the oven at 400 degrees until cooked but still crisp.
- Cheddar slices
- Vegan Brie
- Herbed cheese spread
- Smoked mozzarella with sundried tomato
I used the Violife cheddar sliced and cut them into fourths for easy pairing with the crackers. I also served the tub of the Boursin Herbed Cheese (same cheese I used for the tea sandwiches) but if you make your own, make some extra to serve with crackers on the cheeseboard. This spread also included a vegan brie that I got from Plantiful Kitchen and a smoked mozzarella with sundried tomato from Miyoko’s Creamery. Finding vegan cheese at your local farmers’ market is also a good source for this kind of spread.
Pickles, Olives & Other Goodies:
- Assorted black & green olives
- Caper Berries
- Stuffed Grape leaves
Dips & spreads:
There are many options for dips, but my spreads always include some type of hummus, a spinach dip and the Tzatziki sauce. I love a lemony, dill hummus. You can either make your own or Ithaca makes an excellent lemon dill flavor if you are short on time. I used the Ithaca brand for this spread but my recipe for Lemon Dill Hummus is pretty rewarding because it tastes so fresh. If you have time, I highly recommend making your own. It’s also very easy to make my Spinach & Artichoke dip and is always a favorite among guests. However, if you are short on time, I highly recommend the spinach dip by Rabbit Hole Foods. The Tzatziki sauce that I used for this spread was from Trader Joe’s.
- Simple Mills Almond flour crackers
- Crave cassava crackers
- Ella’s Flats
When it comes to gluten-free crackers, there are many options out there. I like to stick to grain-free crackers and the almond crackers by Simple Mills, the cassava crackers by Crave and Ella’s Flats are my favorite crackers and what I used for this spread
Dessert: Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
My recipe Peanut Butter Cup Cookie is by far my greatest creation and people go crazy for this cookie. It is grain-free, vegan and low in sugar but tastes amazing! Anytime that I entertain, I always include this cookie. Of course, there are many other options that would be good for an afternoon tea party, but I went with the cookie here. I have served mini cupcakes in the past and those can be fun and festive as well.