No matter how well timed my Thanksgiving cooking is, the meal is almost always served later than expected. This is not a problem if: a) It’s not more than an hour later than my original plan, and b) I have snacks to tide my guests over.
You might be thinking, “I’m preparing a feast and I have to worry about hors d’oeuvres now, too?” Thankfully, no—there’s no need to make a fuss because the main meal is what everyone will remember. Besides, you don’t want family and friends to fill up before the turkey makes it to the table. My recommendation for a stress-free appetizer is to assemble a platter. Here are two of my favorites:
Cheese Board: This typically includes three to five cheeses, selected for flavor and variety. Ben loves smoked cheeses, and I recently discovered that Ford Farm Dorset Red is one we both love. I like to include a softer cheese—either rich and buttery like Brie, or slightly lighter like Boucheron. Boucheron is really beautiful, so I am often drawn towards it when building cheese boards. My third cheese is always a wild card—anything from Gouda to Manchego to something bold and blue. (This article explains why blue cheese has not always been considered safe for celiacs. It also links to a study confirming that blue cheese is, happily, gluten free.)
The goal is to seek out different flavors, textures, milk sources, and of course, select cheeses that visually appeal to you. I found this guide to creating a cheese board beautiful and straightforward. My favorite cheese board accompaniments include:
- Gluten free crackers (I like Sea Salt Lentil Crackers, Sesmark Sesame Rice Thins, and Edward & Sons Purple Rice and Black Sesame Exotic Rice Toast)
- Toasted hazelnuts or almonds
- Local honey
- Fig spread or quince paste
- Fresh fruit, such as sliced pears and apples and/or dried fruits like apricots and dates
- For meat eaters, a charcuterie plate is always a nice pairing
A Mezza Platter: A Mediterranean inspired mezza platter is a great way to satisfy almost any crowd. I start with a good quality hummus, or you can make your own, and build from there. Just be sure to balance fresh ingredients with pickled/prepared ones. My favorite accompaniments include:
- Assorted olives
- Pickled peppers (sweet or spicy)
- Fresh sliced vegetables (carrots, bell peppers, and Persian cucumbers are my personal favorites)
- Olive or Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade
- Stuffed grape leaves or Tabbouleh
- Za’atar (you can make your own with this recipe)
- Chips (I like Food Should Taste Good Multigrain)
Word to the wise: If you’re assembling a platter to satisfy celiacs and non-celiacs alike, please be aware of cross contamination. Supplying gf crackers is only helpful if all of the cheese knives and dips aren’t used with gluten, too. One easy way to handle this is to allow the gf people to serve themselves first.
Although I rarely get hungry while cooking (maybe it has something to do with “taste testing” everything along the way?), having snacks around keeps me moving at a relaxed pace all the way through the meal preparation. I hope this helps you get all the kitchen time you need to make a memorable Thanksgiving dinner!