It’s December, the season of holiday entertaining, of hospitality. And I seem to have lost the knack for it. The pandemic ended the big Christmas Eve parties Benjamin and I used to host, but I can’t let it end the party forever. It’s gotten too easy to become isolated. And it’s harmful. I’m wading back into socializing by having more gatherings, but smaller ones. I’m saying the time to celebrate, to gather friends, or even people you want to know better, is now. Big blowouts or intimate dos don’t take a big budget, just a warm heart. And maybe some advice from entertaining pros.
@Thevegancheeseplate team suggests — surprise! — vegan cheese boards for easy entertaining. Instagram didn’t invent the idea of boards. They’re a delicious show of graciousness in many cultures and cuisines. If you’ve ever enjoyed a Spanish tapas spread, a Middle Eastern mezze platter, an Indian thali, a Japanese bento box, or an Italian antipasto, you’ve got the concept. It’s an array of tempting little bites displayed for maximum eye appeal.
Put together a nice selection of artisanal plantbased cheeses, an assortment of crackers and a few fun accompaniments, and you’ve got a guaranteed wow. Boards are easy to assemble, look glam as anything, and make for easy clean-up. You can even make boards ahead and keep in the fridge till your guests show up.
About those fun accompaniments — spreads and dips make hosting easy and affordable, make your party delicious, and make your guests happy. Hummus and/or guacamole are beloved, tried and true, but I’m glad to share a handful of other favorites:
Borani esfanaj a creamy, dreamy combination of spinach and plantbased yogurt, heady with fresh herbs
Nduja — a tomato-intense version of an Italian spread that traditionally contains pork. Not here, honey.
Romesco, smoky with mild dried chile, savory with almonds — truly good on everything
This Greek-as-anything spread has a few ingredients — yellow peas, garlic, lemon and olive oil, but wow, it sings of the Mediterranean — easy and elemental
Luscious mushroom pate developed by Ivy Manning. She says don’t call it vegan. I say tell the world.
@thefullhelping’s Gena Hamshaw kindly shares her golden, glorious turmeric chickpea yogurt dip from her brand new book, The Vegan Week.
I’m honored to share @mstanyaholland’s recipe for benne crackers and black-eyed pea dip. It’s a double delight, and vegan, too, from her brand new book, Tanya Holland’s California Soul.
I’m grateful for you, my wonderful community, for sending comments, questions, recipe feedback, or just the occasional atta girl message. These things matter more than you know.
Consider giving someone else a reason to be grateful, too.
Potcake and I wish you wonderful, warm-hearted holidays.
11/30-12/4 Art Basel, Miami’s city-wide arty party
12/2 1:30 pm ET – Catch me on Rainer Avenue Radio with Change Your Food host and organic emcee extraordinaire Dennis Weaver.
12/18 Hanukkah begins at sundown
12/21 Winter solstice -- the year’s shortest day, its longest night and the official start of winter
12/24 Christmas Eve
12/29 Benjamin and my wedding anniversary
12/31 New Year’s Eve
1/1 New Year's Day
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