In this season of socializing, you might find yourself in need of quick and elegant hors d’oeuvres to bring to a party or to serve at home. Few things are easier than a cheese or charcuterie board, which requires zero cooking and doesn’t seem to go out of style. But while simple to create, these assemblages of cheeses and meats can end up being amazing or just meh. The difference maker is this: The best boards have no blank spaces.
Cheese boards are by no means new, but you can thank Instagram for the country’s new obsession with tight arrangements of cured meats, cheeses, gourmet crackers, nuts, olives, fruit and spreadables. The guiding principle of Instagrammers is to cram lots of ingredients together so that the board feels generous and the wood beneath barely shows.
Choose the outer boundary you want to work within, be it a square, rectangle, circle or even triangle. Strategically place larger items, like wedges or logs of cheese and slices of cured meats. In between, place complementary ingredients, such as bread slices or crackers, mustards, compotes, chutneys or jams. Finally, fill in all the empty spaces with nuts, olives, fresh herbs, fresh fruit and anything else you like.
The takeaway from cheese board influencers is that there’s no end to the creative possibilities. Create themed boards, sweet boards or even boards that follow holiday shapes. Spend a lot or a little in creating your board. They can get expensive if you let them, but they don’t have to.
A couple of comments about my board, pictured above. The mozzarella and prosciutto roulade in the center is from Cannatella Grocery on Government Street. Sliced, it’s a beautiful layered pinwheel of these two ingredients. Retro blue cheese-stuffed dates, super easy to make, line the bottom. Salt and pepper cashews, in a small bowl at the top, are from the Whole Foods Market bulk bins. They’re a party favorite. And the kumquats are from my yard. With citrus booming this year, it should be no problem finding a sprig or two to weave into your board.
Maggie Heyn Richardson is a regular 225 contributor. Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.