All About: Creating a Simple + Beautiful Cheeseboard at Home
Making a cheeseboard is my go-to party trick when having friends or family over. It takes minimal prep and it always looks beautiful. Plus, serving a variety of cheeses and tasty fixings means there’s something for everyone to enjoy. This is a simple guide to keep on hand so you can mix and match without an exact recipe. This can be scaled up for large boards or scaled down to a tiny salad plate. I often keep some of the below ingredients on hand because they all have pretty long shelf lives, which means I can throw together a tiny cheeseboard for one or two people in a pinch. Enjoy!
A great rule of thumb is to serve a variety of textures between soft/spreadable, firm, and hard cheeses. Additionally, serving cheeses with different milk varieties creates a fun and dynamic range of flavors. Cow’s Milk, Goat’s Milk, and Sheep’s Milk all offer many varieties. Some of my favorites are below:
Bloomy Rind Cheese – Brie, Triple Cream, and Camembert are popular varieties. They’re soft, buttery, creamy, rich, and slightly funky. The Mt. Tam Triple Cream from Cowgirl Creamery is my go-to for this style.
Cambozola – Cambozola is what I like to call the “gateway blue cheese”. It serves up a palatable level of funk since it tastes like a cross between a triple cream and a gorgonzola. This usually goes quickly, even for people who don’t like blue cheese!
Toma – A semi-hard Italian cheese. It’s hard on the outside with a waxy rind and has a buttery flavor with an almost grassy tang. This is my favorite from Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co.
Sharp Cheddar – Any kind of sharp cheddar will do but I love an aged white cheddar.”Unexpected Cheddar” from Trader Joe’s is pretty delicious, especially for the price point.
Manchego – Perhaps the most famous cheese from Spain. Firm, rich, nutty, and pairs especially well with fruits and jams.
Roquefort – A crumbly and creamy blue cheese from France, known for its assertive sharp tang, intense funk, and recognizable blue mold throughout.
Parmesan – Parmesan is most often used when freshly grated, but it’s fabulous to serve a wedge on a cheeseboard with a small knife so people can break off crumbly bites. It’s nutty, sharp, salty, creamy, fatty, all the things we like!
Fresh Goat Cheese or Chevre – This is the…GOAT of all goat cheeses. It’s tangy, soft, creamy, and I like to purchase the unflavored logs of goat cheese and cut them up into smaller portions. I serve one as is, top another with cracked black pepper, and another with herbs.
Ripened Goat Cheese – Humbolt Fog by Cypress Grovers is an award-winning option.
Baguette Slices – Thinly slice fresh baguette slices and if it’s nice outside, grill them first!
Toasted Nuts + Seeds: Pistachios are go-tos. Toasted Marcona almonds are also fabulous and available at grocery stores like Trader Joe’s.
THE SALTY, ACIDIC, + BRINY THINGS:
Charcuterie – Salty. Thinly sliced good-quality cured Italian salami, chorizo, and prosciutto are standard.
Olives – Salty and briny. Castelvetranos are my favorite.
Mustard – Salty, acidic, and briny. Grainy is the way to go here.
THE SWEET THINGS
Fresh Fruit – Pick a fruit that’s in the peak of its season and serve it fresh. In the Summer I serve sliced peaches, plums, cherries, nectarines, berries, or figs. In the Fall and Winter, I thinly slice apples, pears, and persimmons. I always include grapes because they have longer peak seasons and you can find them any time of year.
Jam or Quince Paste – I love anything from Inna Jam. Just open the jar and pop it right onto the board with a serving knife.
Dried Fruit – Dried apricots are the move.
Date Syrup – I love using Just Date Syrup, made from only organic California Medjool dates. It’s caramel-y, mellow, rich – it has it all!
Honey – Luscious, floral, sweet – what’s not to love?
THE PRETTY THINGS
This category isn’t a necessity but it’s fun when you’re feeling extra festive and let’s be honest, it’s going to look photogenic.
And there you have it! You will never need to put all of the above ingredients on a board! That would be outrageous (though very delicious and beautiful). Simply choose a few items you feel excited about and it’ll be lots of fun to throw together. Speaking of throwing together, let’s talk about how to assemble.
HOW TO ASSEMBLE
Spread the cheeses out on a platter so there is lots of space between them, and fill the space with your charcuterie, crackers, and whichever tasty additions you choose. Also – remove the cheese and cured meats from the fridge about a half-hour before feeding your guests and serve at room temp. Long story short: create a variety of flavors and textures with every element of the cheeseboard, and you can’t go wrong! Make sure to place small knives and spoons around the platter to make serving a breeze.
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