I love a good, artfully-arranged charcuterie board. In fact, I’ve become quite obsessed with collecting boards of various shapes, sizes and wood types. Charcuterie, which means ‘cooked meat’ in French, is typically a lovely assortment of cured meats, cheeses, crackers and flatbreads, dried and/or fresh fruits and olives, all arranged in a beautiful and aesthetically-pleasing way. In my opinion, a well-thought out charcuterie spread can stand in for a meal. With a good bottle or two of wine and a board that’s brimming with little gems of food ranging from salty to sweet, you can nibble, sip and mingle — and I’ll bet you won’t even miss the main course!
I’m big on cooking and serving seasonal foods as much as possible when I entertain. For this summer-inspired board, I thought it would be nice to offer lighter, less intense options, perfect for the hot summer weather. Wines such as a red blend, Pinot Noir or a chilled Sauvignon Blanc, are the perfect pairing to accompany a summer board like this one.
Here are a few of my favorite tips for arranging the ideal (and gluten free) charcuterie board, no matter the season!
- Take cheeses out of the refrigerator about 20-30 minutes before serving. This allows the cheese to bloom and also makes them much easier to cut or spread.
- I usually like to stick with three cheeses. Go with a variety of flavors/textures. For example, Brie, Bleu and Parmesan or Aged Gouda.
- Let the farmers market or your grocer’s produce aisle determine what fresh items you’ll include. If figs are in season, serve them with slices of salty prosciutto, as I did here. Clementine or mandarin orange segments are easy to find all year round. Apple wedges are also a versatile option.
- If guests are a mix of gluten free and non gluten free, keep gluten free crackers and flatbreads in a separate basket to avoid cross contamination.
- Most cured meats are naturally gluten free. Brands like Boars Head, Citterio and Columbus can be found easily at most grocery stores and are gluten free. Include a variety of meats, like dried salami, spicy soppresata and slices of imported prosciutto.
- Add height to the board by placing small jars of jam or fruit preserves nestled among the assortment of food; don’t forget to include spreaders!
- Place cheeses on washed and dried grape leaves or other edible, non-poisonous greens; this adds a nice pop of color to the board and also provides a pretty backdrop for the cheeses to rest on.
For this summer-inspired board, which was purchased at West Elm, I included:
- Peppery white cheddar cheese block
- Garlic-basil Boursin soft cheese
- Sliced nectarines
- Fresh figs with slices of prosciutto
- Mary’s original gluten free crackers and thin rice cakes
- Fig jam and peach jam
- Tangerine-Vanilla Cashew-Macadamia mix by Sahale Snacks