Hey Glitter Girls! Victoria from vmac+cheese here, and I’m so excited to be sharing tips on cooking and entertaining for Glitter Guide.
Today, we’re talking cheese boards. They’re
the hallmark of any party, whether you’re hosting a full-scale dinner or just having friends over for a glass of wine. With the myriad of options available at the cheese case these days, putting together a pretty board can seem a bit overwhelming. Below are some ideas for creating a cheese board that will make your guests think you hired a caterer. The best part? You can easily prep a board in advance, so when your friends arrive, all you’ll have to do is sit back, sip some bubbly, and enjoy. Cheers to that!
Choosing cheeses: Conventional wisdom says to start with a variety of cheeses on your board. Try a soft cheese (like ripened brie), a hard cheese (like aged gouda), and a blue cheese (like Maytag or gorgonzola). By varying the types of cheeses, you’ll satisfy lots of different palettes — plus, the garnishes you choose can also compliment each cheese! Other good options include goat cheeses (chevre) and sheep’s milk cheeses (like pecorino), but be aware that many people can find their pungent flavors off-putting. If you don’t know what your guests prefer, stick to the basics.
Pick a spread: I like to choose a simple spread to feature on the board, such as a basil pesto or a sun-dried tomato spread. Not only is this a great way to introduce a new ingredient (guests can build their own little canape!), but it also allows you to feature a cute dish or bowl for visual interest. In this case, I used a vintage footed ice cream bowl to hold the pesto.
Add in some cured meats: Jazz up your board with your favorite charcuterie, like sliced salami, coppa, or even prosciutto. Stop by the deli counter at your grocery store and have them slice the meats to your preferred thickness. Got a lot of vegetarian guests? Try substituting pickled vegetables to incorporate that savory, salty element.
Fill in the blanks: When you’re building a board, you can fill in the ‘blank spots’ between the different elements with small garnishes, such as dried/fresh fruits and nuts. Try walnuts, almonds, or even pistachios. Sprinkle dried cherries, apricots, or even fresh strawberries around the board. (Just remember to put a small waste bowl next to the board so guests can discard their pistachio shells and strawberry hulls with ease.)
Other snack ideas: For a healthier board, use more veggies! Try cutting raw carrots, cucumbers and bell peppers into long strips, then placing them into lowball cocktail glasses. It’ll give your board more color and give the calorie conscious something to snack on.
Building the board: Once you’ve gathered all the ingredients, choose your board. It doesn’t have to be a wooden cheese board! Use a rectangular platter, a piece of slate, or even an everyday cutting board if you’re in a bind. Next, choose the largest of your cheeses to feature as a “centerpiece,” which should be among the largest items on the board. Next, create lines with your other ingredients to make the board look visually appealing. If you have fewer ingredients, move the items inward towards the center and leave a border around them. This will make the board look fuller and more cohesive. Don’t forget the cheese knives! Pair them appropriately with each cheese (spreaders for softer cheeses; knives for harder or crumbly cheeses). A simple set like this one from
West Elm will have you covered for every situation.
(If you place your centerpiece item in a corner of your board and allow the other items to flow from it, the end result will be a more traditional looking board that feels very full. For a more modern looking board, keep the lines of your items very straight.)
Voilà! You’re a cheese board pro. Of course, the boards here offer just a few ingredients — browse your local market and you’ll definitely find that the options are endless!