Whether you’re looking for an at-home date night idea for two, or planning a fun night with friends, you can’t go past a grazing platter for an easy, yet special, meal.
While some may think a cheese or charcuterie board is more of an appetizer, we are more than happy to call it the main event, and why not? If you include multiple ingredients for maximum flavor combinations, everyone will be happy AND satisfied.
Our favorite part? With a little forward planning (i.e. a quick trip to the grocery store) you can whip up a stunning cheese board in next to no time.
When we are planning a platter, we like to include 2-3 types of cheese. A mix of hard and soft cheese is best so you can enjoy the different textures, and pair them with a wider range of other items on your board.
For 1-2 people, two smallish wedges should do, but if you're planning on a larger group, you can serve a wider variety - you’ll need 3-4oz / 120g of cheese per person (or around a pound / 500g per 5 people).
Both fresh and dried fruit work well on this kind of platter. In fact, a combination of both is optimal! Fresh apples, pears, grapes, berries and figs pair beautifully with cheese, along with dried apples, apricots, muscatels, cranberries and more. Another option to consider is fruit-based pastes and jellies - think quince paste or cranberry jelly.
Crackers & breads
On a larger board, use a variety of crackers. Plainer varieties work well with stronger cheeses; while fruit crackers are wonderful paired with milder cheese. Other options are baguette slices, bagel chips and spiced/flavored crackers.
You can opt for any of your favorite cold cuts here, but a prosciutto and a thinly sliced salami usually have a spot on our boards. We like to make sure these are sliced/cut into bite sized pieces before being placed on the board, to save having to wrestle pieces into something more manageable while trying to hold a glass of wine simultaneously.
Nuts & seeds
Not only are these delicious AND healthy, they’re also a great way to fill in any gaps in your board. Cashews, almonds (smoked almonds are a delicious option if you can find them), walnuts, macadamias and pepitas are all great choices but really you can choose any nuts or seeds that take your fancy.
If you’re looking to add a little freshness to your board, you'll get a huge thumbs up from us!
Aside from the usual carrot, celery or cucumber strips, you could add some olives, stuffed baby peppers, pickles or gherkins, some semi-dried tomatoes or marinated aubergine.
Veggie-based dips are also a great option to add to your board, both as a dip for the veggies and crackers but also to pair with certain cheeses.
Wine (and other drinks)
One of the most classic pairings, serving wine with your cheeseboard is like icing on a cake! While many experts suggest a different wine for each type of cheese, we're all about easy...so we suggest picking what you like.
Generally, white wine (or a good, dry prosecco) is an easier mix with the majority of cheeses, but if red is your thing then go right ahead! Or split the difference and pick your favorite rosé.
Not into booze? A simple sparkling water will work just as well. And surprisingly, according to Food & Wine, tea and coffee can make a wonderful pairing with many types of cheese.
Other things to think about...
While not essential, a sprinkling of microherbs or edible flowers add a fresh and inviting look to your platter, and help elevate into something a little more special.
Of course you could use your regular knives, but specialised cheese knives will provide the most ease of serving your favorite cheese, and will look beautiful when serving your board.
The most useful sets have a different blade for each type of knife, allowing you to use the correct one for hard, soft and crumbly cheeses. A cheese spreader (or two!) is also helpful for soft cheese, pates, dips and pastes (click here to see our favorites).
We also love to use linen napkins when serving a cheese board. Paper napkins may be fine but they do tend to take away from the special, easy luxe mood we like to create when setting up a tasting platter.
We hope you've enjoyed our tips - if you have any we've missed please let us know in the comments. Bon appetit!
Featured in this post are our gold and white resin cheese knives, dash ramekins and set of mini bowls on timber board (board not shown)