Whether you've decided to embrace a totally vegan diet – or you're trying to cut down on dairy – you're probably angsting about all the treats you'll be missing come Christmas. After all, what would the festive period be without a big platter groaning with different cheeses, pickles and stacks of crackers? It's the perfect Christmas or New Year starter (or post-dinner delight). Well, angst no more – you can still have your cheeseboard, vegan or not, and we're here to tell you how...
Start with the cheese
Variety is key – you can't go wrong with that crowd-pleaser, a tangy cheddar. Provide a big wedge and ensure you allow enough space on the board for guests to easily cut themselves a slice. Add a blue cheese, as well as a creamy soft cheese. You can find vegan options for all three online, including an award-winning Free From Mature Cheddar Alternative – it looks, smells and tastes just like the real deal.
Don't forget the crackers
What do you like to pair your cheese with? Substantial (vegan) oatcakes, crispy crackers or a crunchy baguette? When in doubt, provide stacks of each to keep everyone happy. You could blow your guests away by making your own crackers – or, better yet, bake your own loaf of bread. Choose from one of these super-simple recipes. Of course, if you'd rather avoid the carbs, you could serve a wholesome spread of crudites alongside your cheese selection – pile up celery, carrot, pepper and cucumber batons, whole radishes or florets of cauliflower. Both healthy and pretty!
Add fruit – and lots of it
A heap of raisins or a large bunch of grapes is the perfect addition to any cheeseboard. Crunchy slices of apple, crisp pears, dried apricots or soft figs also work beautifully, while adding a little colour and decoration to your board. And as we're on the subject of fruit, lets not forget those all-important chutneys and relishes; choose from spiced plum, roasted tomato, caramelised onion or sweet mango. Yum!
Find the right wine
Is there a more classic combo than cheese and wine? We think not! Whether you opt for a white, red, sparkling or sweet wine, it's the perfect tipple to pair with a cheeseboard. Be sure to look out for vegan wine options, though (those made using without animal-derived fining agents). For a non-alcoholic option, you can't go far wrong with a glass of Nosecco, or chilled fruit juice – apple, pear or pomegranate are winners. Happy cheeseboarding!