You can’t beat the wonder and simplicity of a good cheeseboard. Laden with a selection of the most delicious pairings, complex textures, and beautiful flavors, it’s always a showstopping addition to any table. This easy cheese board is perfect for the holidays, entertaining, or even a family dinner.
Growing up, my undiscerning palate enjoyed cheese the same way most kids do - in a quick after school sandwich or oozing on top of a pizza. Good quality cheese (other than paneer of course) was not common in markets around me at that point, so Amul cheese was really all I knew, and still love. Then I moved to Moscow and later to the US, and discovered how much I was missing out on; nutty Edam, golden baked Camembert, aged parmesan, divine gouda and so much more.
From then on, my favorite meal quickly became a loaf of bread and a selection of local cheese. I was adding feta to every single salad (even ones that would have been better without) and making the cheesiest pasta dishes imaginable.
Now, moving on from my cheese background, let’s talk about cheese boards.
Why make a cheese board?
What always pulls me in - dunking a hunk of bread into a gooey wheel of soft cheese. But there is so much more that a cheese board offers! Not only are they beautiful to look at, but so easy to put together. Once you have the cheese, it’s a matter of minutes for the rest to come together. And best of all, a good cheese board has something for everyone. It satisfies salt and sweet cravings alike, lets you experiment with an array of combinations and is the most fun finger food.
As a rule of thumb, I make sure we have a mix of soft, semi-hard, hard cheeses. From that point, it's about selecting flavors that suit the accompaniments you can include. Bread, crackers, fruits, nuts, meats - there is an endless array of options. So if you start with the cheese, it helps to shortlist the rest accordingly!
What inspired me to make this board was the wonderful range of cheese from the good people at Kumaoni Blessings.
Bread/crackers - crunchy baguettes, sourdough, plain or salty crackers, breadsticks, ciabatta, crostinis.
Fresh Fruits or Veggies - grapes, berries, apples, oranges, pears, tomatoes, carrots.
Dried Fruits - apricots, dates, figs.
Nuts - Walnuts, almonds, cashews, pine nuts.
Spreads/Jams - fruit jams, preserves, pesto, honey.
Garnishes - rosemary, thyme, basil.
Olive oil - for dipping or adding on top of brie/camembert.
More often than not, your fridge and pantry will already have a bunch of great sidekicks to help whip up a balanced cheeseboard in no time! You don’t need anything fancy, as long as the cheese is good. Basic crackers, nuts, and seasonal fruits or veggies will then round it up perfectly. I was guided by Megha at The Platter Life, a true cheese platter expert. She helped me shortlist the cheeses as well as the final accompaniments!
Making the Easy Cheese Board
I used 4 kinds of cheese from a local business, Kumaoni Blessings. I prefer keeping the selection of cheese no more than 3 or 4, to avoid confusing the palate.
- Camembert Styled Bloomy Rind Cheese: a soft cheese that can be baked or eaten at room temperature. It’s creamy and rich, so good with hard crusty bread.
- Garlic Infused, Pepper Crusted Cheese: a hard cheese with a crumbly texture with a deep nuttiness.
- Truffle Mushroom Cheese: a semi-hard cheese, similar to gouda in flavour. Great with a simple salty cracker.
- Reblochon Style Rind Cheese: a semi-soft, delicate and creamy cheese with a strong aroma.
The pairing of fruits and cheese is a true testament to the saying - opposites attract. The sweetness and tang of fruits balance out the saltiness and creaminess of cheeses, unlike any other accompaniment. For the same reason, wine and cheese are such a winning combo - the acidity and sweetness of fruits cut through the creaminess of the cheese and unlocks it’s flavours well.
I used plenty of fresh grapes, cherry tomatoes, and strawberries along with some dried apricots. We also added a delicious strawberry preserve that went great with the crackers.
Crackers & Bread
It’s amazing how a simple cracker and a slice of cheese can make the taste buds sing. I used plenty of salty crackers and classic baked breadsticks. Not pictured in the photos - we also used some everyday bread to scoop up the last of the soft cheese!
Olives, gherkins and nuts rounded up the arrangement - adding some crunch and kicks of salty flavour!
Note - often a cheese platter will include deli meats, like salami. However, we were hosting my vegetarian sister so did not opt for those! If you are planning on including a few cured meats, simple chorizo, salami or prosciutto would be great.
How to arrange the cheese board
What makes a cheese board so fun is that there is no mandatory method to the madness. As long as you have your cheese in place, the rest of the sidekicks can be loaded up around it.
- Use a flat surface - it can be a board, platter, plate, tray.
- Set the cheeses on it at room temperature (or bake the brie/camembert if you prefer serving that way).
- Place the fruits/veggies around the cheeses.
- Add little bowls for the honey/preserve/olives etc. if needed.
- Fill in nuts in the extra spaces.
Add in a generous serving of wine or champagne of your choice and you’re all done!
Wishing you all a very happy new year! May it be filled with an abundance of good health, joy, cheese, and wine. See you in 2021.
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