Looking for a romantic date night idea, classy appetizer for a gathering or an easy dinner idea? Have no fear. I have your answers. Whether you’re looking for an intimate dinner with that special someone, an impressive dish to show off at parties, or a throw-together weekday meal… charcuterie boards are equally versatile and delicious.
Tonight is our one month wedding anniversary and we wanted to do a romantic dinner date night at home. I went on a run with the dogs before heading home for dinner, unfortunately the dogs decided to have a little too much fun – rolling in dead fish! We ended up having to give both dogs a bath before I even considered making our dinner tonight! Luckily, this dinner is so easy to make, you’ll have it on the table in minutes.
When building a charcuterie board there are a few components I consider. I like to break them down into 4 categories: cheese, meats, spreads, and sides.
Cheese: I typically choose 3-4 cheeses. A soft cheese like brie or Camembert. Blue cheese has begun to grow on me but I’m not sure I can commit a whole space on my charcuterie board to this stinky cheese. I also like a hard cheese like Prima Donna, which is one of my absolute favorites, though Parmesan or manchego are also nice. A “basic” cheese like cheddar, Swiss, or mozzarella for those less adventurous folks. And sometimes I add a fourth cheese that I call my specialty cheese. Examples being something like Vampire Slayer Garlic Cheddar cheese curds from Face Rock Creamery, cranberry walnut goat cheese, or Boursin garlic and herb cheese spread.
Meats: I like to choose 2-4 meats when making a platter. Include some “basic” meat options like pepperoni for the ones who play it safe. Then I add my favorite – Prosciutto. It’s salty and delicious, I can’t get enough, and I use the extra to make my Prosciutto and Brie Mac and Cheese recipe! Capocolla would also make a nice salty meat addition. For texture I include a chunky sliced meat option too like sliced hard salami, summer sausage, or chorizo. If you get deli meats or thinly sliced meats, I like to roll these for presentation – if you layer the sliced meats they stick together and it is difficult to grab a single piece easily.
Spreads: 3 flavor profiles are generally on my charcuterie boards: sweet, spicy, and tangy. These flavors can mix and match with each other freely though (i.e. one spread can be both sweet and spicy). For the sweet option I like to use locally made fireweed honey or wildflower honey which truly has a light floral note. Spicy can be easily incorporated with an adventurous jam or jelly like my Pineapple Habañero jam (recipe coming soon) or hot pepper jelly. The jams and jellies can be both sweet and spicy! The tangy flavor profile for me is always covered by some good ol’ whole grain Dijon mustard.
Sides: this section is basically a free-for-all – whatever you and your family or guests find appealing. I try to give a range of options, but be mindful of allergies. Some examples include: sweet (chocolate, dried or fresh fruit), tart (berries, Granny Smith apples, pickles), nutty (nuts), soft (bread), and crunchy (crackers, pretzels, grilled bread).
Presentation: Before I begin building, I lay out all my items (usually on a cutting board from where I was prepping). Think about placing items opposite each other on the tray to create a balance – you’ll want to balance colors and sizes of items. Now you’re ready to start building. I like to first put down a base if you’re using one like large lettuce leaves or leafy greens of some sort. Next I position my cheeses in the corners making sure to leave a little room for maneuvering cutting utensils. Then I place my meats next to the cheeses and sometimes curving around the cheeses. Overlapping is just fine here! It’s casually planned plating, just try to keep things balanced. Next I position breads and crackers around the edges of the tray, or sometimes I place these on a separate platter. Fill in large spaces with spreads and sides – keep in mind that honey and some jams need bowls, but Dijon mustard holds its form nicely and can be placed directly on the tray. If you have too many open spaces remaining after everything is added, it works to spread your meats, breads, and crackers out some if they are very overlapping. I also like to sprinkle nuts or loose grapes or berries over the tray to cover space. Fresh sprigs of herbs are also a nice touch. Add utensils and serve!
Don’t forget to tag #whatsinbreesbelly to show me what you’ve created!