Entice your guests this holiday season with an easy-to-assemble cheeseboard. From rich and creamy to hard and chunky, there are many varieties to choose from.
First, you’ll want an assortment of cheeses with varying textures, colors, flavors and shapes for visual appeal. It’s also interesting to create a theme-based board, such as a regional concentration of cheeses from Northern Italy like Asiago, Taleggio, Fontina and Parmigiano-Reggiano. You may also base your assortment on specific cheese types like semi-hard to hard cheeses such as Cheddar, Gruyère, aged Gouda and Manchego.
Remember not to clutter your cheeseboard and always make it easy for your guests to recognize and taste the cheeses from the mildest to the strongest.
While rustic cutting boards always work well, don’t be afraid to experiment with other serving pieces like granite strips, marble tiles or different types of plates.
When thinking of accompaniments, remember not to “overwhelm” your cheeses. Here are some suggestions:
- > chunks or slices of baguette or other crusty bread
- > assorted olives
- > fresh fruit including red grapes, apples or pears
- > assorted crackers
- > dried fruits such as figs, dates, apples or cherries
- > nuts like cashews, almonds, pecans or macadamias, or even brittles
- > honey and/or honeycomb, jams or chutneys
Finally, decorate your board to celebrate the season using natural items such as sprigs of fresh herbs, whole cranberries or chestnuts. Cheese is best served at room temperature, so don’t be afraid to assemble the cheeses on your board in advance and refrigerate, then remove from the refrigerator 20 to 30 minutes before serving. Add any accompaniments just before serving.
In the United States, cheese is typically served as an appetizer; however, it’s customary in many European countries to serve cheese between the entrée and dessert. Whether as an appetizer or after-dinner offering, pairing your cheeses with wines and/or beer adds to the experience.
Wine is the perfect complement to any cheese sampling. A sparkling or white wine is a refreshing option with an appetizer offering, while a red wine can be enjoyed throughout dinner into the cheese course. Try a bottle of sweet wine to accompany both cheese and dessert to finish off your grandiose celebration.
If you need some help with pairing ideas, please feel free to view our pairing tool at schnucks.com under the cheese department menu. While great pairings can be based upon many criteria, the bottom line is to have fun with it – enjoy the cheeses you like with your favorite wine or beer.
Looking for additional cheesy bites for your holiday gatherings? Here are a few of our favorite quick and tasty ideas:
Sun-Dried Tomato-Chèvre Dip – Tightly pack chèvre into a small, oven-safe casserole dish. Top with chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, then sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Spread over toasted slices of baguette or crackers.
Antipasti Skewers – On 6-inch wooden skewers, alternate 1-inch chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese (or use bocconcini – small fresh mozzarella balls), pitted kalamata olives, grape or sun-dried tomatoes and marinated artichoke wedges. Place skewers on a serving platter, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and chopped fresh basil.
Parmesan Crisps – Combine 1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese with 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Drop tablespoonful mounds of cheese mixture 4 inches apart on a parchment-paper lined cookie sheet. Flatten mounds to 3-inch rounds and bake at 375°F for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 2 minutes, then lift cheese with a thin spatula and cool completely on wire rack. Serve crumbled in a salad or for snacking with wine.