Inside Scoop: If you are anything like us, you love a good cheese board. We are walking you through how to assemble a cheese board to wow your guests in only 5 simple steps.
*Photography Credit: Josh Tenn-Yuk @joshteewhy
My large French Canadian family are the Kings of cheese boards. It doesn’t matter which one of my 6 aunt or uncle’s houses you are entering, you better believe that cheese, crackers and pickles are cut up and laid out on the table.
There’s something homey about sitting down and having comfort food to snack on when you enter someone’s house. And the feeling as if you are welcome to eat and drink and make yourself at home is something that I’ve always loved about my French-Canadian family.
So, my love for cheese boards runs really deep.
But, my desire for gluten-free and dairy-free options trumps everything, because I know if I indulge in the wheat and dairy, my night will be ruined.
So, if you are looking to be a gracious host, or be the talk of the town when you are asked to bring food to an event (but like to keep everybody’s preferences in mind) here’s how to assemble a cheese board in 5 simple steps – a cheese board that will please everyone around!
HOW TO ASSEMBLE A CHEESE BOARD, IN 5 SIMPLE STEPS
1) Variety is key!
Assembling a cheese board that pleases everyone, wows your audience and has people walking away talking about it for hours, means offering up variety. Not everyone likes plain cheese and crackers, or a simple pickle option. Our individual palettes are different and we all require different food options to be satisfied.
Stonewall Kitchen is one brand that we choose whenever we’re looking for variety, and they remind us of the values of family and tradition.
Starting from the kitchens of the founders Jim Stott and Jonathan King, all the family was involved in endless hours of cooking, hand-writing labels, taking photos and selling products at the local farmer’s market. From nieces and nephews to Jim’s 90-year-old grandmother everyone has contributed to the evolution of the company that has grown from producing a few dozen jars for the farmers’ market to about 75,000 jars daily. And, the famous Stonewall Kitchen Wild Maine Blueberry Jam has even made it to space!
So, here are some options for to consider for adding variety:
- A variety of sweet and savoury dips and spreads like this Old Farmhouse Chutney, Maple Bacon Onion Jam, and Hot Pepper Jelly.
- Choose different types of crackers and bread: whole grain, gluten-free and even a good quality white bread can provide with options to satisfy everyone.
- Include a variety of other condiments, cheeses, meats and garnishes (more on that below).
2) Consider allergies and dietary preferences
When assembling the cheese board, make sure you have something for everyone to enjoy.
Not eating dairy may be an ethical choice, a dietary preference or intolerance. A plant-based ‘cheese’ company like Nuts for Cheese makes the perfect addition to your spread and tastes wonderful on a cracker with Stonewall Kitchen’s Red Pepper Jelly.
The other major allergen to consider is gluten. Though only a small percentage of the population have a true gluten allergy (celiac), many people have non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). From personal experience, it’s always refreshing when we can snack on crackers that are certified gluten-free.
Navigating allergies doesn’t have to be hard. You keep one section of the board for gluten and dairy, and have the other section dedicated to allergy-free options or you can prepare two separate boards. Luckily, most of Stonewall Kitchen’s line of spreads and dips are all gluten-free, dairy-free and non-GMO.
***Please note that for anyone with celiac it may not be safe if there has been any gluten cross contamination in the preparation or serving process. For example, if the board is prepared in a kitchen where gluten has been used even if it’s served using separate boards, or if dips are shared between boards.
3) Mix savory with sweet
This is one of the age-old cheese board necessities! Sweet and savory need to be balanced out with plenty of variety and taste options. This is the reason why some French restaurants serve cheese as a dessert with honey. A nice port wine is the perfect pair with some fresh (or incredibly old) cheeses. You can check out some of the best food and wine pairings here.
But something that we are always so excited with when we encounter a really well put together cheese board are jams and chutneys mixed with cheeses or savory and salty pickled vegetables like these Garlic Jalapeno Olives in sweet vermouth brine, or this Spicy Pickled Asparagus.
4) Add plenty of textures
So now we have variety, accommodation and taste… the next thing that pulls a really solid cheese board together is having so many different textures. You need crunchy, soft, creamy and chunky when it comes to cheeses, condiments and spreads.
A nice crispy cracker, with a soft brie cheese topped with a sweet and savory Roasted Garlic Onion Jam…there is really nothing better. Or grabbing a soft piece of bread and topping it with a piece of goat cheddar, and a crunchy Pickled Baby Cucumber.
5) Visually stun
The last piece of the cheese board puzzle is what’s going to end up creating that WOW-factor with your guests. That’s to visually stun them.
Trust us when we say this is a lot easier than you think.
You have your crackers, breads, cheese, dips and spreads, pickles, olives and everything else in between, here is exactly how to add that wow-factor to your cheese board:
Add dried and fresh fruit like cut up fresh figs, prunes, strawberries, dates and grapes. Not only does it add a pop of colour, but this garnish is totally edible.
Add some vegetables to the mix like cherry tomatoes and mini peppers. Pickled vegetables like these Mild Dilly Beans or Mild Pickled Asparagus are also amazing and add that kick of flavour.
Add little piles of micro greens to the corner of the board as a nice topping option, but also to pull in some green into the mix.
You can also use arugula as a little bed to place food, or your spread jars on.
And lastly, garnish with some fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme or sage. These probably won’t be appetizing with the food, but they will make your cheese board look spectacular.
Do you have any additional ideas on how to assemble a cheese board? Let us know below.