At least once a week, I put together some variation of a cheese plate. I vary the ingredients depending on what I have in the refrigerator or what catches my eye at the grocery store. I love a good cheese plate because it's not only delicious, but it also makes an elegant presentation without too much effort. A basic cheese plate can be thrown together in just a few minutes for a simple dinner, an impromptu visit with friends, or you can make a more elaborate version for a party or other special event. In fact, a cheese plate and charcuterie board would be the perfect hors d'oeuvres to serve to your guests at a wine tasting party ... and you're in luck because I wrote a guide on how to do just that!
Mix and match the following according to your own personal tastes:
6 Ingredients for the Perfect Cheese Plate
Choose one hard cheese like aged gouda, one soft cheese like a traditional French brie, and one strongly flavored cheese like bleu cheese or gorgonzola. In this photo, I also added burrata, an Italian cheese made of mozzarella with a soft, creamy center similar to ricotta in texture. Burrata is great on a cracker with jam or drizzled with olive oil.
Charcuterie is simply cured meat like salami, sopressata, prosciutto, capicola, etc. Charcuterie adds a savory touch that nicely complements the various cheeses. I like to combine the textures of a dense sopressata or other salami and paper-thin prosciutto that nearly melts on your tongue. My recipe for crostini with prosciutto and arugula is simple and delicious (if I do say so myself!).
I usually serve some form of fresh vegetables with my cheese and charcuterie board. This can include crudite (a veggie platter), a salad with mixed baby greens, or my recipe for a delicious Caprese salad. When I put together the cheese plate in this photo, I added slices of fresh tomato and a bit of leftover cucumber, tomato, and avocado salad.
Bread serves as a vehicle to hold charcuterie and cheeses and it also balances their strong flavors. There are several options to choose from – a crusty French baguette, crackers, breadsticks, or slices of toasted crostini rubbed with a clove of fresh garlic and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
You can get creative with garnishes and condiments. Examples include kalamata and green olives, candied pecans or toasted almonds, dried cherries or cranberries, grapes or slices of fresh fruit, spicy mustard, apricot jam, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, etc. A great bottle of wine is a must-have, of course! You can never go wrong with wine and cheese!
As an artist, I not only focus on taste, but also on appearance. I like to vary the ingredients’ colors, textures, and flavors so that they complement and play off each other. I then create a beautiful presentation by arranging the cheeses, charcuterie, veggies, and extras on a marble slab, a wooden cheese board, or a piece of slate. Complete the scene with comfortable seating, music, and candles or other soft lighting. For more ideas on making your home feel welcoming, check out my guide: 5 Casually Glamorous Home Decorating Ideas.
You are now ready to create a cheese plate and charcuterie board that wows your guests. Or feel free to set it up as a simple and romantic dinner for two. Cheers!