The Art of Charcuterie

As many of you may have noticed, I am not the biggest meat lover out there. Which is kind of ironic, considering our whole beef jerky venture (find out more here). I’m not labeled vegan or vegetarian, but meat just isn’t my thing, it never has been. I rarely crave it, I don’t really care to handle it and there are always other options that I prefer. However, when it comes to certain combinations and dishes, I will not turn away. Especially if it’s of high quality and beautifully displayed. 🙂

Admittedly, I don’t have a knack with pulling together a beautiful platter full of meats. I do an okay job, but I definitely overthink it. Give me cheese, antipasto, nuts, fruit, and I can pull off a killer board!  But mainly meats  – I just don’t have the jazz and often hand this one over when I can.

With that being said, my wonderful friend Cyrus Cooper has the magic touch and easily throws together the best of the best in minutes. So I easily had him throw together his dish on how to get that beautiful looking spread. Prepared to be inspired. Here’s his dish:



Its not just cured, smoked or dried meat. Its art.

It takes time, patience and love to prepare correctly. It must be handled well, sliced to the correct thickness and enjoyed with the best and most simple ingredients.

In this case we used proscuitto, salami, soppressata, bresaola and a side of beef jerky. When preparing this dish its of utmost importance that you have a nice thick wooded board to place the ingredients on, a large cutting board will do.

First, lay out all your meats, cheeses, spreads, nuts, olives etc on the counter. Ensure you board is clean. And then.. the secret… Don’t over think it. Let your hands guide you and the creativity will ooooze.

Work in a vertical method and try to mix the levels of flavours so there is a balance. For example put the olives closer to the spicier meats and be sure to have a sharp cheese, a soft cheese. Mix in variety but don’t overdo it.

Remember, if you make a mistake, don’t worry, only you will know. Have fun and pick one or two simple garnishes to place on top. This time around we used fresh aromatic herbs from the garden which added a sweet pop of colour.

The key is transport yourself to Italy and let your hands do the work.


Buon Appetito! xx

Vegan Lasagna with Basil Cashew Cheese

Okay, my first thought was, “Really what could possibly compare to a traditional lasagna?” While I am definitely on Team Veg, I knew it would be hard to please the man of the house with a vegan friendly option, as well as satisfy his Italian taste buds.  I mean I do love the traditional meat lasagna with all the gooey cheese, but I often find myself resisting temptation to indulge due to the “not so hot” feeling afterwards; not to mention the perception lasagna has for being such a task to make. I had the craving for that warm comforting meal, without the comforting calories. Luckily, I had this recipe sent my way from a friend with the affirmation that her husband loved it too, more than regular lasagna! Done and done, this was now Sunday night’s dinner.


Well, I definitely have proven myself wrong with this recipe, taken from Oh She Glows, this vegan lasagna far surpassed my expectations (as well as his!) and would fool any lasagna lover otherwise. I mean it’s evident that there is no meat sauce, but the flavour combination from the sautéed veg, sugo, and the basil cashew cheese, one would never question the difference.

Hope you enjoy today’s dish.

Lemon Basil Cashew Cheese (Yield ~2 cup)

  • 1.5 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 30 mins or overnight
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth or water (or more as needed)
  • 1.5 cups fresh basil leaves (lightly packed)
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (gives the cheese flavour)
  • 3/4-1 tsp kosher salt (or to taste) + freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder (optional)
  1. Drain and rinse soaked cashews
  2. Add ingredients in order listed and process until smooth

Vegan Lasagna (Yield ~12 servings)

  • box of oven ready lasagna noodles
  • 1.5 bottles of pasta sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2-3 small zucchini, chopped
  • 2 cups assorted mushrooms, sliced
  • 1-2 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups spinach
  • Lemon Basil Cheese Sauce (from above)
  • Daiya mozzarella cheese or vegan feta (as much as desired)
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. In a large skillet, sauté onion and garlic over low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Now add in the rest of the veggies and sauté for another 10-15 minutes. Season well with salt and pepperIMG_4362
  2. Add 1 cup of pasta sauce on the bottom of your casserole dish. Add a layer of noodles, half the basil cheese sauce, half the vegetables, more pasta sauce, another layer of noodles, the rest of the cheese sauce, the rest of the vegetables, more pasta sauce, and finally a sprinkle of cheeseIMG_4371
  3. Cover with tinfoil and prick with fork a few times. Bake at 400F for 40-45 minutes and then remove tinfoil and broil for 5 minutes on medium. Watch closely so you don’t burn the edges. Remove and serve. Will keep in the fridge for at least 3-4 daysIMG_4377IMG_4393

Eat Hearty! xx