If you haven’t fallen head over heels for charcuterie boards yet, I want to introduce you to one of my favorite healthy meal options. I especially love making charcuterie boards in the middle of summer when turning on the oven or stove seems less than appealing in the humid heat, but these are great for holidays and gatherings, as well. In fact, I recently made a variety of charcuterie boards for my son’s family birthday party and everyone dove right in. Because there’s such a variety of food, everyone can pick and choose what they want, which makes anyone’s job as host much easier. I’ve never met a kid who doesn’t love them and it’s a great way for everyone to get more raw fruits, veggies and variety in their diet.
To start with, you’ll need a solid wooden board or tray that’s large enough to display ½ cup – 1 cup of each type of food you’d like to serve. Tip: If your board does not say “food safe” make sure you layer parchment paper first. I prefer to do this regardless for easy clean up. I tend to use wooden cutting boards, but if you have a large gathering and food that may easily slip, consider getting a board with a lip, like this bamboo tray . Some other popular options are acacia paddle boards and charcuterie board sets. You’ll then want to think through the theme of the board. Here are few ideas to get you started (but there are no rules!):
- Antipasto Bar (Olives, cheese, crackers, artichokes, etc.)
- Brunch Board (Variety of fruit, cheese, muffins, spreads, croissants)
- Fruit & Veg Tray
- Hoagie Board (Variety of cold slices, sliced tomatoes, sliced onion, variety of sliced cheese, green leaf lettuce, condiments, rolls or wraps, etc.)
- Mediterranean Board (Marinated olives, peppers, pickles, Brie cheese, herbs, nuts, hummus, tomatoes, other vegetables)
- Color themed boards (For example, Red = strawberries, tomatoes, red grapes, cheese w/ a red rind, raspberries, pomegranate seeds, prosciutto wrapped apples, salami + baguette bites, add heart shaped cookies and make it a Valentine’s day board)
- S’mores board with all the fixings – get creative with a variety of gourmet chocolates
When assembling the board, determine what needs to go in small serving bowls. I usually put olives, dips, and salsa into bowls with their respective serving utensils and place those on the board first.
Once those are in place, the majority of the rest of the board can be customized. I usually start by placing items that are heavier (or won’t move around a lot as the board is being built) which would be cheeses, cold cuts, fruits and vegetables. I usually align these choices in rows or compact groups depending on the look I’m going for.
Then I’ll add in the lighter items like crackers, pretzels, and tortilla chips and top with pockets of the smaller items. You’ll notice after the larger items have been placed that you might have gaps between items. Fill these spaces with nuts, blueberries, raspberries (anything that is a smaller food choice that would do well nestled in between larger items).
There is no right or wrong way to build a board per se, but look for a flow that is inviting to the eye. Try to offset colors and textures by not placing too similar items next to one another. Fresh herbs like basil and rosemary make the entire display more vibrant and welcoming and adds a finished touch.
These are really fun to make and fun to eat and can be a great vehicle for getting kids – and adults alike – to get excited about trying new foods and eating more fruits and vegetables!