Foolproof food platters for easy hosting of drop-in guests

Guestpost by Ange on Aug 11th

Um, yeah. That looks pretty darn nom-able.

I admit it. I'm one of those annoying friends that you can drop in on anytime and I can "throw together" a meal or snack that looks like I have a chef hiding in the pantry. I don't (sigh), but I do have a few sneaky tips up my sleeve for faking the elegant grazing that is platters. Platters are handy for allowing guests with varying food requirements to pick and chose what they'd like and they're way easier than trying to think of an actual meal to cook. You can serve "leftovers in disguise" by raiding whatever's in the fridge.

Platter food ideas

  • Veg-iterranean: Sun dried tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, capers, hummus, Turkish bread, toasted pita pockets, stuffed pepper dews, dolmades, falafel, tzatziki (yoghurt dip), grilled courgette and aubergine slices, pesto, fresh tomatoes and grapes
  • Ploughman's Lunch: Aged cheddar, smoked and cream cheese, chutneys, hearty wholemeal bread chunks, pickles, tomato wedges, carrot and celery sticks.
  • Hot 'n Spicy Platter: Potato wedges, mini savouries, quiche slices, pizza pieces, falafel, meatballs, spicy chicken wings, and dipping sauces such as tomato, Thai chili and yogurt sauces.
  • Piece of Provence: Brie, Camembert and blue cheeses, grapes, baguette slices, asparagus spears and hollondaise sauce, dried or fresh figs and dates, quince or fruit paste and pate.
  • Sea-food and Eat it: Marinated mussels, shrimp cocktail, thai chilli fried whole shrimp, baked or fried fish bites, squid rings, fish cakes, tartare and chilli sauces and lemon wedges. (You could really cheat and order most of this from the fish and chip shop and serve it on a pile of rocket leaves you grabbed from the supermarket next door!)

Starting out

  1. Source large flat platters or wooden chopping boards and some teeny soy sauce dishes — I got most of mine from the rubbish dump recycling centre (most of the council landfills in NZ have recycling centres) and the soy sauce dishes from Asian food warehouses
  2. Wash the dishes before use and dry well, then place in the fridge to chill (or in a 50 degree oven or warming drawer for a hot platter)
  3. Cut the food to bite-size pieces. For cheeses, have one small knife per item that needs cutting
  4. Put sauces or semi-liquid foods into little soy sauce dishes
  5. Stack food around the platter and mix up the colours as much as possible
  6. Use smaller foods like nuts, olives, and rocket leaves to fill in the gaps and create a full-looking plate of food
  7. Chop or artistically tear up a basket or bowl of bread to serve alongside the platter
  8. Stack tea plates on the table or floor along with a pile of napkins
  9. Grab a glass of wine and take the rest of the evening off!

Feeling ready? You should be one step closer to legend-host status.

If you have a list of tasties to put together a platter, pop them in the comments!

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About Ange

Ange Marsden is a writer, crafter and blogger based in sunny Nelson, New Zealand. She lives in a wasabi-green rental home with her husband, two cats, and collection of vintage cookbooks.