Ahhh, that perfect looking cheese board. You’re on Instagram or Pinterest and then that photo comes along and you promise yourself you’ll make yours look like that that weekend. Yet the weekend comes and it looks more like a couple of sad cheeses and hams. I’ll let you in on my secrets on how to make the ultimate pretty-looking cheese board that you’ll be proud to post on your Instagram so everyone drools over their phones.
There are four factors that will make a cheese board look interesting and inviting: colour, texture, diversity and fullness. It’s all of these that make a great cheese board.
Like with any plate, no one likes beige-looking food. It looks dead, boring and untasty. The problem is that cheese is generally beige looking (and truly delicious, I might add). That’s why in a cheese board we need to add colour. Here are some ideas and I’ll put the ones I used in italics:
- Reds / purples: Hams do a pretty good job like the prosciutto I added. Cherry tomatoes are also good and are a nice refreshing bite in between all the intense flavour. Cranberries add a darker, richer tone and also a sweet component to your board. Other red additions might be: salame, red grapes, fresh or dried berries, apples, cherries, purple olives, dried tomatoes, figs.
- Dark goldens: A dark golden tone like the ciabatta toast I made add another layer of darker beige that’s much more inviting. Same happens with the olive oil toasted almonds and the different types of cackers. Other dark golden ideas could be: dates, other nuts like walnuts and pecans (please toast them!), raisins, pretzels.
- Greens: Green olives are a favourite of mine with their bright green colour (gotta thank them for that!). But if you’re not an olive fan you can also include some fresh green sprigs like rosemary in my case or you could also choose oregano, parsley, thyme, etc. Other green options include green grapes, gherkins / pickled cucumbers, sprouts and microgreens.
So we have the colours down and now we go over to texture. Texture is a great help when it comes to making something like a cheese board appetizing. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a large or a small board, you want to vary the textures within it. For example I had a buttery cheese which I cut in squares so that it looks interesting compared to the other cheeses and offers an “easy grab.” I also cut half of the brie for a more interesting look and left the manchego whole. And that’s only the cheese! Then you have the different types of crackers and toast, the shiny of the olive oil almonds and cherry tomatoes and the smooth / velvety texture of the prosciutto, hummus and olives.
I think this one is a bit self-explanatory but I just want to make sure that you understand that a cheese board is not only about the cheese! You want to have a nice diversity of flavours: salty (hams, cheeses, olives), strong (maybe a stronger cheese?), sweet (fruits, dried fruits, candied nuts, marmalades, honey), mild (cheeses, hummus, crackers, veggies), crunchy (nuts, crackers). You also want diversity in sizes: some large elements that need cutting / splitting and others that are ready to eat. And that will make eating your cheese board not only yummy but also interesting and whatever the opposite of monotone is. So maybe you take a bite of cheese, then a dried cranberry, then an olive, then a piece of toast. Get it?
Now here’s the not-so-obvious tip. Boards look more attractive the fuller they are. If you have lots of negative space it looks more boring. You want the components to actually overflow the board and tower one on top of the other. The trick to achieve this is to go from big to small.
- Big: In my board my big components were the ciabatta toasts, the Manchego cheese, the hummus and the brie cheese. Make sure that you lay those on the board first and that you like their location; probably not together. Usually it’s also these that can go “overboard” lol. So lay them in such a way that they escape the board a bit.
- Medium: Then you go on to your “medium” elements like crackers, ham.
- Small: After that lay the smaller ones like cherry tomatoes, olives, cheese in cubes.
- Tiny: The last elements you lay are the tiny ones like the dried cranberries and almonds and their job is to fill up any negative space that the other left behind.
There are three things on this board that I can give you the recipes for in case you’re interested to replicate (I advice you to, they’re so good!):
- Hummus: I posted this recipe a long time ago but it’s still the one that I use nowadays
- Ciabatta toasts: for these I replicated the process for the croutons in my squash and ginger cream recipe only with ciabatta bread which I cut in a slight angle to get longer toasts and finished them with dried oregano.
- I didn’t put them on the board this time, but I really like to make tortilla chips to have with chips! They’re my fav along with those toasts.
When you make your cheese board make sure you tag me on your pictures or send them to se so I can see what yummy things you included. <3