The One Appetizer to Serve When Your Friends Are Vegan, Gluten-Free, Paleo, and on Whole 30

02/13/2017 02:16 pm ET

For Bon Appetit, by Liesel Davis.

Alex Lau, styling by Sue Li

I have to admit: I do like a good problem. Maybe not the ones that keep you up at night, but definitely the ones that make you get creative and throw everything at the wall just to see what sticks. So when Bon Appétit's Food Director Carla Lalli Music asked me to take a stab at a dish that could be served to a crowd of Paleo, vegan, gluten-free, and Whole-30 dieters, I got excited. We’ve all had that experience: You invite a group of friends over and someone can only eat this and someone else can only eat that and someone else can eat anything but the other thing. So what we all wanted to know is what could you serve that everyone could eat. Was there even such a thing? The problem was clear. Now we needed a solution.

So I did what I always do when faced with a perplexing question: Get out the neon Sharpies. I made color-coded lists with one color for each diet. As I researched, anything that could be eaten under a particular diet went onto a list. If I found later that the ingredient wasn't allowed under another diet, I’d cross it off. Pretty soon I had a short list of ingredients that none of the diets excluded. The list had a lot of spices, herbs, nuts, seeds, and vegetables, some fruits, and some oils and vinegars. I allowed salt although some strict Paleo adherents do not, because what is food without salt?

What I came up with is a three-component hors d'oeuvre that can be served composed or assembled by guests: a nutty seedy cracker, a sweet potato hummus, and a grape salsa with tarragon. You can also pair any of the three components with something else. If you aren't serving vegetarians, try the salsa over pork. The crackers can be topped with just about anything you would put on a Triscuit. The hummus would make a delicious sandwich spread. You get the idea. Everything is easy to make and the composed dish is vibrant, fresh, party-worthy—and pretty good for you! This might not be the only way to feed a crowd of less-than-omnivorous eaters, but it’s certainly the most delicious solution I've found—so far.

This crowd-pleaser is as easy as 1, 2, 3:

Alex Lau

Freezing the dough at least one hour before baking allows the seeds and nuts to absorb the excess liquid—this will help the baked crackers hold together.

Alex Lau

Adding water to this sweet potato hummus recipe is key to a smooth and spoonable consistency.

Alex Lau

This jewel-toned salsa recipe can be used on more than just crackers. For those who are more omnivorous, try as a condiment alongside roasted pork or beef.

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