From one holiday to another we go! December, I am ready for you….especially because I’ve come up with some of the easiest holiday menu items, and I’ll be sharing them here for the rest of the month! We barely have enough time as it is between shopping and decorating, and spending time with our loved ones, amiright? So if you’re looking for an impressive dish for any holiday party this season, believe me when I say, I have got you covered. And it doesn’t even require any cooking, WINNING! Today I’m sharing a seriously beautiful and unbelievably tasty Epic Cheese Board!
I looooove a good cheese board and could probably eat just this and be a happy little camper for dinner. And as long as you follow a few simple tips, you will put together a gorgeous dish that will have something for everyone at the party. I’m so excited for this one, let’s just get started, shall we??
The basics are as follows:
- Large butcher’s block/cutting board: I like this as opposed to a big platter because guests can use the cheese knives directly on the board and you don’t have to worry about scratching the plate.
- Large green leaves (optional): this is something I learned from the great Ina Garten (I love you, Ina!); it’s something very simple and not necessary but it adds great color and drama to a cheese board. I have a fiddle leaf fig tree and a big hydrangea bush at home, so I will cut leaves from either of those. If you don’t have either, just skip it, or you can pick up hydrangeas from the store and use those leaves!
- Cheese: variety is the spice of life so keep it interesting, you’ll want a few different kinds: sharp, firm, creamy, soft, blue
- Fruits: choose 2-3 kinds and mix it up with both fresh and dried
- Carbs: adding some crunch is crucial, and I like to include bread sticks along with 1 or 2 kinds of crackers
- Other: for me, a cheese board isn’t complete with some nuts, olives, and cured meats; but have fun with it – add whatever you like!
How to make it
Start with a nice big butcher’s block or cutting board:
Add your greens if you’re using them:
Then add your cheese around the middle of the board (these are the stars of the show, after all). Below in parenthesis are the kinds I usually choose. I’m certifiably obsessed with Manchego (Spanish, made of sheep’s milk) so I HIGHLY recommend this.
Next are the fruits – grapes are always a good idea (green or purple) and dried apricots are sort of a must-have if you ask me. If you can find fresh figs that’s always my preference, but I could only find dried figs at Trader Joe’s so that’s what I used below. But they were still super delicious. Other suggestions would be fresh apples or dried mangoes.
Now sprinkle in some of those carbs. I always include Italian bread sticks (to give the board a little height) and at least 2 kinds of crackers. Below are table crackers and some multi-grain toasts.
Then fill in the gaps with olives (I like variety here too: I use Castelvetrano and Kalamata) and nuts (I always grab a sweet one and salty one – my favorites are Marcona almonds and sweet & spicy pecans from Trader Joe’s).
And finally, squeeze as much meat in there as you can! Salami and prosciutto are crowd pleasers, but as always, get what you like or leave the meat out completely.
Add a couple cheese knives, plates, and napkins….and you’ve got a party!
- Large butcher's block or cutting board
- Large green leaves (hydrangea or fig), optional
- Sharp Cheese (Cheddar), broken into bite size pieces
- Firm cheese (Manchego)
- Creamy cheese (Brie)
- Soft cheese (Goat)
- Blue cheese (Stilton)
- Fresh grapes
- Fresh or dried figs
- Dried apricots
- Italian bread sticks
- 2 kinds of crackers
- 2 kinds of olives
- Marcona almonds
- Candied pecans
- Start by arranging the large green leaves on the butcher's block.
- Arrange the cheeses around the center of the board.
- Add the fruits around the cheeses.
- Arrange the crackers onto the board and put the bread sticks into a small cup.
- Put the olives into 2 bowls and add them to the board, along with a few handfuls of almonds and pecans.
- Finally, pile on the salami in one area, and the prosciutto in another.
- Serve with a few cheese knives.