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 this very 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 (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 prosciutto or salami. Cherry tomatoes are also good and are a nice refreshing bite in between all the intense flavour. Cherries add a darker, richer tone and also a sweet component to your board. Other red additions might be red grapes, fresh or dried berries, apples, purple olives, dried tomatoes, figs.
- Dark goldens: A dark golden tone like the ciabatta and baguette toasts I made add another layer of darker beige that’s much more inviting. The same happens with the olive pecans. Other dark golden ideas could be dates, other nuts like walnuts and almonds (please toast them!), raisins and pretzels.
- Greens: Green olives are a favourite of mine with. But if you’re not an olive fan you can also include some fresh green sprigs like thyme and basil in my case or you could also choose oregano, parsley, rosemary, 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. The texture helps a lot in making a cheese board appetizing. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a large or 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 the Manchego in slices. And that’s only the cheese! Then you have the different types of crackers and toast, the shininess of the cherries 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 cherry, 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 achieving this is to go from big to small.
- Big: In my board my big components were the two Brie cheeses and the Manchego slices. 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 toasts and crackers.
- Small: After that lay the smaller ones like cherries, olives, and cheese in cubes.
- Tiny: The last elements you lay are the tiny ones like the dried apricots and pecans and their job is to fill up any negative space that the other left behind.
There are a few recipes that you can use as part of your cheese board and you can go on to checking them out:
- Brie with caramelized pear: it’s one of the Brie cheeses you see on the board and it’s extra delicious with that sweet touch from the pears.
- Hummus: I posted this recipe a long time ago but it’s still the one that I use nowadays
- 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.
- Cheese Log with cranberries, pistachios, bacon and honey
- Fried Camembert with raspberry and sparkling wine compote
- Brie with baked plums
- Baked Ricotta
- Almond and pomegranate cheese log
- Chicken liver pâté with honey pears
When you make your cheese board make sure you tag me on your pictures or send them to me so I can see what yummy things you included. <3