Plant-Based Charcuterie

Question. When did antipasto become charcuterie? I mean seriously. Is it just that many Americans think “antipasto” is something you eat before pasta? Because it’s not. “Anti” is Latin and means “before” just like most Americans think, but, “pastus” is the Latin word for “meal” … so antipasto is simply something you eat before a meal, be it a pasta dish or something else.

Antipasto is essentially an Italian appetizer consisting of cured meats, cheeses and various fruits and nuts. Charcuterie is a French appetizer of the same sort.

So back to my question, when did we all start saying “charcuterie”? Is it just that Americans have a fondness for France over Italy? Uh, not likely … and I mean not to gross anyone out, but the French word “chair” means “flesh” and “cuit” means “cooked.” Hence the origin of the term “charcuterie.” 

Regardless, whether you prefer to say antipasto or charcuterie, they really are essentially the same thing. And as it turns out, those of us who follow a plant-based diet can enjoy one, or the other, or both (it’s confusing, I know). How? Simple. Really, we make boards/platters a lot … it’s like I’ve said a million times over, it’s all about balance and 98 percent of the time, what we eat and what we cook is plant-based. So there you go … and here’s what you need to make the perfect “almost vegan” plant-based charcuterie board/antipasto platter.

  • Olives
  • Dried apricots, figs, grapes (any or just a few)
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Sliced apple and or pears
  • Pomegranates if they’re in season
  • Cornichons (those little pickles)
  • Roasted garlic
  • Nuts of your choosing, served in a small ramekin
  • Mustard, served in a small ramekin
  • Vegan feta
  • Vegan sausage, cooked, cooled and sliced
  • Oven baked camembert or brie, wrapped in phyllo dough, which just happens to be vegan
  • One other hard cheese, rind on, of your choice
  • Crusty bread and or crackers or your choice
  • Smoked salmon, mussels or other fish
  • Fried ravioli (just an idea)
  • And cured meats, if you want to add them

Make sure you have a cutting board or serving platter big enough for all your goodies. I prefer using cutting boards over trays, but hey, you do you. Oh, and a few ramekins to serve spreads, jams and or separate the olives or nuts. 

Wrap garlic heads in tin foil and add one tablespoon olive oil to each. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Wrap camembert in phyllo dough, then surround with parchment paper and reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees, and bake alongside garlic for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, grill or pan fry sausage until golden brown. Once cooked, place on board and slice part of one, but not all. Surround sausage with the mustard-filled ramekin, bread if you choose or crackers, and pretty much whatever else will fit on the board. I like to serve the baked cheese next to the apples and pears but hey, you do you. Just make sure you remember to serve with a few different small knives and spoons so you can slice cheese and sausage as you go. Enjoy!

On Being a Flexitarian

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