One of the easiest snacks to pull together last minute is a cheese and charcuterie board. They typically suit most dietary restrictions, something can be found to please all age groups, and they really encourage mingling and conversation. The best part is you can create it with food that is in your refrigerator and pantry, plus shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to put together! Perfect for those unplanned drop in guests. You’ll be getting the hostess of the year award for sure! Follow these easy suggestions for how to create a simple charcuterie board.
Keep some cheese on hand. Cheese that is wrapped up well will last a long time, likely the entire summer. Grab a few pieces the next time you’re out to keep in the crisper, 3-5 will do. I prefer artisan cheese, but even packaged grocery store cheese is a crowd pleaser.
A good rule of thumb is…
- Soft (brie, goat cheese, camembert)
- Semi-firm (cheddar, havarti, gouda)
- Aged (asiago, aged cheddar)
- Blue (Gorgonzola, roquefort)
Cured, salty and spicy meats pair excellent with cheese. Charcuterie also has a long shelf life, so you can have it on hand, waiting for your guests to pop in. Look for cured meats like prosciutto, chorizo, salami, or smoked sausage, kolbasa.
Shop the farmer’s market, or scavenge your own garden. Fresh fruit, like berries or grapes are easy choices, but apples, and pears work too. Just dip the slices in lemon water before you put on the platter to avoid browning. Use edible flowers, sprigs of rosemary or thyme, cherry tomatoes, radishes, and peppers.
Rummage in the fridge. Pickles, olives, jams/ jelly, spreads, honey, mustards, unique salsa. Fill a few small ramekins to place alongside the cheese.
Use pantry staples. Pull out dried fruit, nuts, crackers, breadsticks, even a box of the kids raisins or cranberries will do. If you have a baguette on hand, slice it up. Even a dark chocolate bar will add a bit of sweetness.
There is no limit to what you can put on a cheese and charcuterie board, and no rules how to arrange it. Start with a hardwood board, marble or slate slab, even a cutting board covered with a sheet of parchment looks great. Whatever you have on hand, place the bricks of cheese first, not too close so they don’t take on the taste of the other. Then work around the board placing the other items biggest to smallest, filling in the empty holes with the tiny items like nuts and berries.
Serve your board with a few cheese knives and toothpicks so guests can serve themselves.