All a-board for easy entertaining: how to make amazing grazing platters

Make mealtimes, special occasions, and holidays extra memorable with these 50 delicious, inspiring, family-friendly, and easy-to-recreate snack boards, writes Maegan Brown.

Build-your-own taco board, a perfect taco night option. Picture: Jerelle Guy

Build-your-own taco board, a perfect taco night option. Picture: Jerelle Guy

Build-your-own taco board

Now this is taco night, done right! What better way to bring people together than with a big board covered in colorful fillings for each person to fix their own tacos? With flour tortillas, hard shells, beef, chicken, shrimp, and an amazing selection of vegetables and fillings, there is truly something for everyone. And you can't have a taco bar without margaritas, so that's excuse enough to make this board. Taco 'bout fun and yum!

Ingredients

450g beef mince

1 pack taco seasoning, 28g

450g boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders

1 pack chicken taco seasoning, 28g

30ml cooking oil of choice, divided

450g mini prawns, peeled and deveined

1 pack prawn taco seasoning, 28g

1/2 red capsicum, thinly sliced and sautéed

1/2 orange capsicum, thinly sliced and sautéed

1/2 yellow capsicum, thinly sliced and sautéed

10 street taco-size flour tortillas

360g guacamole

40g shredded Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese

40g crumbled cotija or queso fresco cheese

5g chopped fresh coriander

240g pico de gallo

140g canned Mexican corn blend, drained

50g chopped red onion

80g salsa

80g sour cream

12 small taco shells

5 butter lettuce cups

90g chopped purple cabbage

1 large jalapeo, thinly sliced

1 large lime, cut into wedges

360g refried beans

Method

1. To make the minced beef, brown the meat in a large pan over medium-high heat. Drain the fat, stir in the taco seasoning, and follow any additional instructions on the package.

2. To make the chicken tenders, toss the chicken in the chicken taco seasoning. Heat 15ml of the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for three to five minutes per side, or until completely cooked through and no longer pink. Chop up the cooked chicken.

3. To make the prawns, toss the prawns in the taco seasoning. Heat the remaining 15 ml oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the prawns to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, for three to four minutes, or just until the prawns turn pink.

4. Keep the cooked beef, chicken, shrimp, and capsicum warm in a low oven until ready to serve.

5. Wrap the flour tortillas in foil and place in the oven to warm while you assemble the board.

6. Place four medium serving bowls on the board for the refried beans, beef, chicken, and shrimp. You will fill these bowls with the warm foods just before serving the board.

7. Put the guacamole, shredded cheese, cotija crumbles, chopped coriander, pico de gallo, Mexican corn, chopped red onion, salsa, and sour cream in serving bowls and place the bowls across the board.

8. Fan the taco shells down the middle of the board.

9. Place the lettuce cups, chopped cabbage, sliced jalapeo, and lime wedges in open spaces on the board.

10. Heat the refried beans and spoon them into one of the empty serving bowls already on the board or heat them directly in the serving bowl if it's microwave or oven safe.

11. Place the warm sautéed capsicum on the board, then fill the remaining empty serving bowls on the board with the beef, chicken, and prawns.

12. Arrange the warm flour tortillas around the top of the board near the refried beans.

Serves 8-10 people.

Use a 51 x 38cm board.

Build-your-own parfait board, an easy family breakfast on a Sunday morning. Picture: Jerelle Guy

Build-your-own parfait board, an easy family breakfast on a Sunday morning. Picture: Jerelle Guy

Build-your-own parfait board

This board couldn't be easier to build and is quite possibly one of the most requested by my kids. Even my oldest, who claims he doesn't like yogurt or fruit, will eat several bowls of healthy parfait creations when I serve this board. He just gets into the action with everyone else, and it's amazing how much he loves it. And that example is exactly why we eat this way! Whether for an easy family breakfast on a Sunday morning or part of a brunch party with friends, this parfait board is sure to please even the pickiest of palates.

Ingredients

360g plain Greek yogurt

360g strawberry Greek yogurt

360g blueberry Greek yogurt

80ml honey with honeycomb

25g pomegranate seeds

40g Grape-Nuts cereal

27g slivered almonds

25g cacao nibs

25g multiseed ancient grains blend

60g peanut butter or almond butter

150g raspberries

150g blackberries

120g blueberries

8 strawberries, with some sliced and some cut in half

1 banana, peeled and sliced

150g fruit and nut granola

150g granola clusters

150g chocolate almond granola

20g toasted coconut chips

60g chopped dried fruit

Method

1. Place the yogurts in large 480ml Mason jars on three different areas of the board.

2. Put the honey with honeycomb in a serving bowl and place the bowl on the board.

3. Put the pomegranate seeds, Grape-Nuts, slivered almonds, cacao nibs, ancient grains blend, and peanut butter in small serving bowls and place the bowls across the board.

4. Add the berries and sliced banana to the board, followed by the granolas. Fill in any gaps with the toasted coconut chips and chopped dried fruit.

Serves 6-8.

Use a 46 x 28cm board.

Charcuterie and cheese board, nothing elevates a gathering more. Picture: Jerelle Guy

Charcuterie and cheese board, nothing elevates a gathering more. Picture: Jerelle Guy

Charcuterie and cheese board

Nothing elevates a gathering more than a beautifully presented charcuterie and cheese board. It's pretty much a given that if you walk into our house for a dinner party, you will be greeted by a big board covered in a delicious assortment of meats, cheeses, and nibbles that are a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. It's our favorite way to entertain and is a guaranteed way to impress our guests without a lot of stress. It allows us the opportunity to greet our guests and get the party started right away. This board can be made as an appetizer or the main event. Quantities truly depend on what course the board is being served for and how many you're serving. One thing I always make sure to do is encourage our guests to dig right in so they're not intimidated by it. I love how guests can create all sorts of combinations to keep the experience unique and entertaining. The only rule is to enjoy!

Ingredients

30g fig jam

30g strawberry preserves

30g apricot preserves

22g whole-grain seeded mustard

5cm portion of honeycomb with honey

35g mixed olives

230g aged white cheddar

230g Manchego

230g aged Gouda

140g triple crème cheese

140g blue Stilton cheese

12 slices coppa

10 slices prosciutto

10 slices piccante salami

10 slices Bavarian salami

4 slices mortadella

1 large bunch red grapes

1 large bunch green grapes

10 whole-grain crackers

15 seeded crackers

15 fruit and nut crackers or crisps

10 salted crackers

40g Marcona almonds

40g candied pecans

40g sesame honey cashews

65g dried apricots

30g dried cherries

5 dried orange slices

60g cornichons

1/2 pear, thinly sliced

1/2 yellow apple, thinly sliced

1/2 red apple, thinly sliced

3 fresh figs, cut in half

Method

1. Put the fig jam, strawberry preserves, apricot preserves, mustard, honeycomb with honey, and mixed olives into small serving bowls and place the bowls across the board. Arrange the cheeses on the board.

2. Arrange the meats on the board, followed by the red and green grape bunches.

3. Fan the crackers around a few of the serving bowls, around a cheese wedge, and in little stacks across the board.

4. Fill in the gaps with the nuts, dried fruits, cornichons, pear slices, apple slices, and figs. It's perfectly fine for items to touch each other and overlap.

Serves 6-8 people.

Use a 76 x 38cm board.

Fruit and dips board, a breathtaking addition to any brunch. Picture: Jerelle Guy

Fruit and dips board, a breathtaking addition to any brunch. Picture: Jerelle Guy

Fruit and dips board

This breathtaking board of beautiful fresh fruits with a variety of dips to accompany them makes for a stunning addition to any brunch, shower, or summer soirée. It's so gorgeous to look at and even better to graze on. This board proves that offering healthy options when entertaining doesn't have to be boring.

Ingredients

1 whole pineapple

125g raspberries, divided

225g blueberries, divided

225g blackberries, divided

360g chocolate pudding

180ml caramel dip

360g plain or vanilla Greek yogurt

180g mixed berry whipped cream cheese

150g chunky granola

300g red grapes, in bunches

300g green grapes, in bunches

2 medium oranges, sliced into wedges

12 small watermelon wedges, with rinds

1 mango, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced

2 kiwi, peeled and thinly sliced

1 medium starfruit, sliced

15 whole strawberries

1 red apple, thinly sliced

150g fresh whole cherries, with stems

2 bananas, peeled and sliced

Method

1. Vertically slice the pineapple in half, keeping the stem on one half. Hollow out the half with the stem to be used as a bowl. Reserve the pineapple flesh. Place the pineapple bowl in the center of the board.

2. Cut the reserved pineapple flesh into chunks. Mix the pineapple chunks with 40g of the raspberries, 30g of the blueberries, and 40g of the blackberries. Put the pineapple and berry fruit mixture into the hollowed-out pineapple bowl.

3. Put the chocolate pudding, caramel dip, yogurt, cream cheese, and granola in small serving bowls and place the bowls across the board.

4. Arrange the grape bunches on the board, followed by the orange slices, watermelon wedges, and sliced mango.

5. Fan the kiwi slices around the yogurt bowl, the starfruit around the cream cheese bowl, the strawberries around the chocolate pudding bowl, and the apple slices around the caramel dip bowl.

6. Place the cherries near the top of the pineapple stem and the banana slices next to the cherries.

7. Fill in the gaps on the board with the remaining 85g raspberries, 195g blueberries, and 185g blackberries.

Serves 12+ people.

Use a 51cm round board.

Beautiful Boards: 50 Amazing Snack Boards for Any Occasion, by Maegan Brown. Murdoch books, $24.99.

Beautiful Boards: 50 Amazing Snack Boards for Any Occasion, by Maegan Brown. Murdoch books, $24.99.

Beautiful Boards: 50 Amazing Snack Boards for Any Occasion, by Maegan Brown. Murdoch books, $24.99.

This story All a-board for easy entertaining first appeared on The Canberra Times.