A picnic in the park, an easy-but-elegant appetizer or a relaxed dinner for two at home—whether you’re entertaining or enjoying a night in, a hearty spread adorned with cheeses, cured meats and seasonal accompaniments is an occasion unto itself. Here are some of our favorite ways to tailor your cheese board to the warmer months.
CHOOSING YOUR CHEESES
To keep things simple, you’ll want to start your board with three to five cheeses. Be sure to incorporate a variety of milk types, textures and intensities—Food52 suggests including a soft-ripened washed rind cheese, a firm goat’s milk cheese and a sheep’s milk or blue cheese. You can include any cheese you love, but these are a great starting point.
ASSEMBLING YOUR ACCOUTREMENTS
Garden fresh fruits and veggies are the summer sidekick your favorite cheese is missing. To celebrate summer, stick to what’s fresh and in-season. These ingredients are a great place to start. You can also opt for dried fruits or jams, but stick to summer flavors.
Be sure to include plenty of crackers and/or crusty bread slices, and a selection of meats with a variety of textures—chewy salami, silky smooth prosciutto, even a stack of crispy bacon pieces!
Don’t worry about sticking to items traditionally seen on a cheese board! Mix things up to fit the season. An accompanying board loaded with chilled seafood, sliced veggies and boiled eggs can add an unexpected spin (and extra heartiness).
A salty cured meat like prosciutto is the perfect compliment to fresh peaches and nectarines, or ripe summer melon. Pair this duo with a mild, creamy cheese like mozzarella or burrata.
Take succulent blackberries to new heights with this boozy twist. Soaking your berries in a red wine like Pinot Noir will make your spread extra special.
STYLING YOUR CHEESE BOARD
The presentation is almost as important as the ingredients themselves. Style your cheese and accompaniments on assorted platters or cutting boards. An outdoor dinner party is the perfect setting to make your cheese board shine! Start with your mildest cheeses on one side and work your way to the more pungent ones. Add your fruits, meats and pickles to surround your cheeses.
Be sure to include knives and other necessary serving utensils for your guests to serve themselves. And if you’re entertaining, keep an eye on your boards, and refill ingredients as they’re running low to keep your presentation looking fresh.