In our June issue, we’re celebrating the ever-popular appetizer tray and the types of wines to drink with it. (Check out the full story here.) Serving curated trays of diverse nibbles is the perfect way to entertain right now, as the Louisiana heat engulfs us and we just don’t feel like getting behind the stove. There’s no one single way to create the perfect platter, except to assemble contrasting flavors that will both complement and enliven one other.
In our story, we featured a French-inspired meat and cheese board that includes a nutty, creamy and slightly fruity hard cheese from Wisconsin called BellaVitano, apricot fruit paste, Vermont Creamery’s Bijou goat cheese crottin, pâté de campagne, hard salami, Wild Brine Beet and Red Cabbage Kraut, macadamia nuts and pitted Cerignola olives. There’s enough here to satisfy any palate and to keep each bite interesting, but you could easily vary it countless different ways.
Moreover, you don’t need to stick exclusively with the meat-and-cheese format. Here are a few themes to play around with this summer as you ramp up your appetizer game. Enjoy!
Transform the traditional charcuterie board into a sea-cuterie with fresh Gulf seafood as your protein anchor. Serve things like soy-ginger marinated tuna that’s been seared, thinly sliced and drizzled in wasabi mayo, skewers of grilled shrimp and bite-sized summer vegetables, smoked trout dip and a small dish of cold crab salad ready for spooning onto slices of buttery toasted French bread. A great contrast for these seafood flavors is grilled fruit, especially pitted peach halves and discs of fresh pineapple.
Grilled bread and friends
Forget crackers. Grilled bread is a magical base for just about anything you slap on it—from pimento cheese to good quality olive oil with fresh herbs. Assemble a platter of easy-to-reach slices of grilled Italian loaf, French bread, naan and others, and surround them with all sorts of add-ons, including fresh peeled cloves of garlic (for rubbing on the bread’s surface), thinly sliced cured meats like prosciutto, salami and mortadella, soft and hard cheeses, hot spinach-artichoke dip, tapenade, pesto and fresh Creole tomato slices.
Play off our local passion for Mediterranean cuisine by assembling the perfect shareable mezze platter of both homemade and store-bought items. Make your own hummus (it’s easy), and drizzle it with good quality olive oil and a few shakes of dried sumac. Serve homemade tabbouleh salad made with lots of chopped summer tomatoes. Pick up pita bread, a variety of olives, stuffed grape leaves, thick slices of cucumber and cherry tomatoes and good quality feta cheese. Don’t forget slices of fresh Louisiana figs.
Maggie Heyn Richardson is a regular 225 contributor. Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.