Updated: Jun 20
If you follow me on Instagram you'll know that I adore platters; I find them the perfect solution for easy yet stylish entertaining. So here I'm sharing my top tips for preparing them at home.
I hope these will be useful if you have guests over on the bank holiday weekend or just anytime you don’t feel like cooking, yet want to entertain friends and family without any hassle.
First things first.... use a tray rather than a board to stop food falling off!
I have some nice wooden boards that I occasionally use but they aren’t as practical.
Also, most people often don’t have big enough boards for large platters, so a large tray works well for a crowd.
A plate for just a few people also works.
Line the base of your platter/sharing board.
It looks nice and protects your boards from getting greasy and stained.
Options include leaves (edible is best if possible, like vine leaves or fig leaves), salad (rocket, or lettuce leaves), herbs (bunches of thyme, rosemary or chives work well) or simply parchment paper.
Plan your big items like dips first.
The choice is huge: hummous, guacamole, tzatziki, tomato salsa, sour cream and chives, tapenade, roasted vegetables (blitz up roasted carrots or beetroot with cream cheese), pesto, sun dried tomatoes dip, muhammara, mackerel pâte, lemon hollandaise for fish and pots of mustard for cured meats.
Place in small bowls (generally the middle of the board works best and then fan your food
around them) and sprinkle with black sesame seeds, chopped pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, pink peppercorns, red bell pepper flakes, sumac or dukkah.
Decide on your medium items next.
Examples include cheese (cut into batons, slices, kept whole or an entire Camembert melted for two minutes in the microwave works well), veg batons, cured meat, boiled eggs, prawns on sticks, smoked salmon or crackers etc.
Try to use vegetables in season and local if you can. Ideas include: fresh peas, cucumber, red pepper, radishes, tomatoes, celery, carrots, red or white chicory, sugar snap peas, avocado and roasted vegetables in the winter.
Finish with small items to decorate.
These can be nuts (pecans, walnuts, pistachios look nice and you can roast them and add salt, spices and honey if you like), olives (bright green work best visually) berries (when in season), fruit (lemon wedges, figs, grapes, passion fruit, berries, physalis, melon, tangerines cut in half and pomegranate look lovely), dried fruit, edible flowers, herbs, gherkins, capers or cranberries in the winter months.
Pick a theme!
You can design platters completely randomly (based on what you fancy or what’s in the fridge) or you can prepare them around themes like cheese, charcuterie, fruit, rainbow colours, fish or veggie only.
Both kids and adults seem to love tucking into a beautifully-presented themed platter, especially around festive periods and special holidays.
Platters are a great, yet easy, way to encourage healthy food at children's parties.
Bright colours and a variety of beautifully presented food means children (and adults!) are more likely to eat fruit and veg rather than just sweet things!
Simply cut batons of different coloured vegetables or fruit and arrange around a bowl of yoghurt, fruit puree or chocolate dips.
Platters are a simple and quick idea for after school snacks.
Fill a metal muffin tin with an array of non messy food items such as berries, nuts, olives, cured meats, homemade jelly sweets, diced cheese, boiled eggs, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, tangerine segments or dark chocolate etc… and serve!
To kids it feels so much more exciting than a plate!
Another great option is a ‘deconstructed meal’ on a plate.
These really seem to appeal to kids as they look fun and kids love helping themselves to what they want rather than being served.
Think build-your-own poke bowl, tacos with fillings, kebab sticks with salsa yoghurt, side salads and even burgers with nice extras (see my meatballs with dips, veg and flatbreads platter recipe).