The ultimate vegan snack board - The First Mess

This post is sponsored by method.

The ultimate vegan snack board - The First MessThe ultimate vegan snack board - The First MessThe ultimate vegan snack board - The First Mess
I developed and photographed a cookbook by myself and generally spend a lot of time making things from scratch, so it goes without saying that I’ve now accepted the amount of dishwashing I have to do in this life. Wasn’t always the case though!

Around this time last year, I was scrambling in the final phases of making my first draft of the book. I had convinced myself that I needed to re-shoot a ton of stuff. On one particularly draining marathon day, I was wrapping up the mountain of dishes and kept doing that final scan of the murky water, thinking I was done but perpetually coming up with another caked spoon or sticky spatula. I snapped.

At that point, it felt like I had been wearing the same sweatpants for a week, and the only outings I had allowed myself were to the local 24 hour grocery store. I had dishpan hands real bad, and if you can imagine the possibility of dishpan hair, I probably had that too. Despite the full immersion in healthy cookbook production, our consumption of pizza was sky-high at the end because I was SO sick of my own food. I wasn’t really looking after myself. I knew this, and the never-ending utensils at the bottom of my swamp water sink made for a proper breaking point.

In those harried weeks leading up to my due date, one of the things I had been dreaming about making was a plant-based charcuterie board of sorts. I kept thinking about pâtés , savoury mousse, and layered concoctions, all with vegetables or nuts/seeds as the base. I saw it as a colour explosion that would bring anybody in, regardless of their dietary preferences. Unexpected but totally irresistible.

So just in time for holiday get-togethers, I present you with this ultimate assortment of vibrant, plant-based snack deliciousness. It’s a little messy to throw together because of the multiple go-arounds in the food processor/blender, but that’s where today’s partner comes in. I’m working with method on their #fearnomess campaign. This snack-scape is totally kind to the earth, and guess what? So was the cleanup because method’s products are vegan (no animal testing or bi-products) and biodegradable. Also, my dishpan hands have pretty much disappeared since I switched to their dish soap (the honeycrisp apple scent is my fave).

The three main components of the board are: a silky butternut dip with roasted garlic and tahini, a beetroot-hued cashew “cheesy” spread with dill, and a classic mushroom pâté fancied up with balsamic vinegar and tamari. Something for everyone, right? You could even throw in this roasted carrot harissa dip if you’re feeling ambitious. And if you just want to make one of these tasty spreads/dips to add to your weekly lunch sandwich situation, I totally get that ;)

The ultimate vegan snack board - The First MessThe ultimate vegan snack board - The First MessThe ultimate vegan snack board - The First MessThe ultimate vegan snack board - The First Mess
SERVES: Makes 2 1/2 cups
NOTES: I roasted the butternut in cubes because I wanted some for the garnish, but you could just roast the squash whole/in halves and scoop out if you aren’t concerned about the look.

1 medium butternut squash (about 675 grams), peeled
3 garlic cloves, skin on
3 thyme sprigs, leaves removed
1 tablespoon + 3 tablespoons sunflower oil, divided
1 cup cooked chickpeas
juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup tahini
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
sesame seeds, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Scoop the seeds out of the butternut squash and dice into 1-inch pieces. Transfer the diced squash, garlic cloves, and thyme leaves to the baking sheet. Drizzle the squash mixture with 1 tablespoon of the sunflower oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Slide the baking sheet into the oven and roast until squash is tender, about 35-40 minutes. Allow squash and garlic to cool slightly.

Set up your food processor on the counter. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skins into the food processor, discarding the skins afterward. Transfer the roasted butternut squash to the food processor (reserve about a third for garnish, if you like), along with the remaining 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil, chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, salt and pepper.

Run the food processor on high until you have a totally smooth and rich paste/dip. You may have to stop the motor and scrape the sides down a couple times. Adjust the dip for seasoning. Scrape the dip into a serving bowl and garnish with a drizzle of good olive oil, sesame seeds, and the reserved roasted squash.

SERVES: Makes 1 cup
NOTES: I used all cremini because it’s a pretty accessible and tasty variety. If you want to mix it up with some shiitakes or other type, feel free!

1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons olive oil
353 grams/1 lb cremini mushrooms, stems removed
sea salt and ground back pepper, to taste
1 clove of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup kalamata or sundried/fully ripened olives
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon gluten-free tamari soy sauce

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Slice all of the mushrooms and throw them into the pan. Let them set for a good minute before stirring. Then, let them sit another full minute.

Stir the mushrooms. They should be slightly glistening at this point. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper. Keep stirring. Add the sliced garlic to the pan and stir. Once the garlic is slightly softened and translucent, about 1 minute, transfer the mushroom mixture to a food processor.

Place the olives, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, tamari, and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the food processor as well. Run the motor on high until you have a smooth paste. You will have to stop the motor and scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple times. Transfer the pâté to a serving dish. I like to garnish this with a nice drizzle of balsamic glaze/reduction and some herbs to break up the brown-ness :)

SERVES: Makes 1 ½ cups
NOTES: I haven’t tried making this in anything other than a high speed blender, and I’m not confident in the ability of other machines to get the job done here. You want it to be so silky smooth, almost like cream cheese.

1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and rinsed
1 small-medium beet (about 140 grams), scrubbed
1 tablespoon light miso
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
juice of 1 lemon
1 -2 tablespoons filtered water (if necessary)
handful of fresh dill, chopped
2 tablespoons drained capers

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Tightly wrap the beet in a sheet of foil and place it in the oven. Roast the beet until tender when poked with a knife, about 40 minutes. Allow beet to cool slightly before rubbing skin off and dicing.

In an upright, high speed blender, combine the diced beet, the rinsed and drained cashews, miso, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper, and lemon juice. Blend on high, pushing contents into the blades with a tamp. If the contents are not working themselves into a whipped cream cheese-like consistency, add some water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Once you have that whipped and smooth consistency, transfer the cashew cheese spread to a sealable container and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Garnish the cheese spread with chopped dill and capers.

*This post was created in partnership with method. All opinions/endorsements are my own. Thanks for supporting!

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