Cheese boards are one of those apps that when you put it out on the table everyone will “oooh” and “ahhh” and think that you went to a ridiculous amount of trouble to put it together when in reality, they really are super easy to pull together. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to cheese boards and it doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive other. Simply, choose a variety of foods that you love, pile them up on a pretty platter or board, and serve. It’s really that simple! You can make them as creative or as simple as you like, just use some (or all) of these simple guidelines to create a delicious and appetizing cheese board for your next party.
First things first, you’re going to want to grab some kind of board, platter or tray. The one pictured above I happened to find at Home Goods® a while back for just a few bucks. It’s a great size and perfect for this type of thing however, if you don’t have something similar don’t sweat it. Take a look through your kitchen and use whatever you have on hand. Things such as a wood cutting board, a glass platter, a piece of slate, or even a cookie sheet will work great for your cheese board! As long as it can hold food, it’ll function!
Next up, and probably the most important part, is to add some cheeses to the board. Try and mix it up with different varieties, textures and strengths. I’m not a huge fan of the “moldy and stinky” cheese variety but if that’s your thing, go for it! On the board above I added sharp provolone, a mellow Swiss, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. You can slice up the cheese and assemble it on the board, leave the cheese in large chunks served alongside cheese knives, or a combination of the two. It’s nothing more than personal preference so you really can’t go wrong here. If you’re going to leave it to your guests to cut their own cheese, be sure to leave a separate knife with each cheese variety. Sharing cheese knives will contaminate the flavor of the cheese and make them taste less than stellar.
Once your cheeses are in place you’re going to want to add in some salty goodies. Things like roasted nuts, a variety of olives, dried sausages, and other charcuterie meats like salami, pepperoni or prosciutto. Because olives are wet and oily I recommended adding them to a small bowl before placing them on your cheese board. It’ll keep the other foods on the board neat and dry. I chose to assemble some of my meats on a small festive dish but don’t feel like you have to, they can be added directly on top of the cheese board as well.
At this point you’re going to want to add in some sweet things to balance out all of that salty and cheesy goodness. I love to add things like dried apricots (not pictured on the above board), fresh grapes, dried cherries and a sugary sweet bowl of nuts. For this board I used cinnamon sugar almonds but any kind of sweet, candied nut will do. You can even add some nice, dark chocolate if you so desire. Again, there are no hard and fast rules here so add in whatever sweet treat appeals to you!
Now it’s time to layer in some crackers, breadsticks and/or torn bread chunks. I really love adding breadsticks because it gives the board a little height plus, my kids love munching on them at parties! Depending on what you’re serving on the board, you can also add in some condiments as well. Things like spicy mustards, chutneys, honey and jams are perfect to include. You can serve them right out of the jar with a little spoon tucked inside or transfer them to a pretty little bowl that you add to the board.
If after everything is placed on the cheese board you feel that it looks a little too empty, add in some extra fruit, crackers, or fill in the empty spaces with lettuce, herbs, and other brightly colored veggies. Be creative, have fun with it, and your guests will absolutely love it! Lastly, keep in mind that cheese boards aren’t just for parties. They also make great, easy lunches/dinners as well. We have an awesome Italian deli by our house so on the weekends I love to go pick up a few things, assemble them on my board, and serve it for lunch. My husband and kids love it and the kids really enjoy getting to choose exactly what they want to eat. When I make it for us I usually buy a nice, crusty loaf of bread to serve alongside the board. We love to tear off chunks to dip in good extra-virgin olive oil seasoned with herbs, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. So delish! Enjoy!!
QUICK TIPS FOR DESIGNING A CHEESE BOARD
1) Choose a board
2) Choose your cheeses making sure to include different varieties, strengths, and textures.
3) Add in some salty goodies such as nuts, olives, and meats.
4) Add in some sweet goodies such as dried and fresh fruits, chocolate, and/or candied nuts.
5) Add in crackers, breadsticks, and/or bread chunks.
6) Add in sweet and spicy condiments.
7) Garnish and fill in the empty space as needed.