Date Night Idea: Make Your Own Charcuterie Board
If you want to have a date night in but don’t feel like cooking or ordering takeout, a charcuterie board might be perfect for you. It's a great way to keep things light and sexy while pairing well with your wine of choice.
Building an amazing charcuterie board depends as much on aesthetics as it does on flavor, which makes it super fun to make with a partner. It can also be customized for any kind of diet. Regardless of whether you’re a hardcore carnivore or a selective pescatarian, your dream spread is just waiting to be created.
What’s a charcuterie board?
A charcuterie board consists of food you can eat with your hands. It can be a mix of veggies, fruit, cheese, proteins, and sauces. There are no strict rules for these boards. Instead, you can use your imagination to come up with a variety of sweet and salty concoctions. Ideally, you'd want to incorporate many textures and flavors on your board so that you can mix and match between bites.
What ingredients do you need?
When building your charcuterie board, it's important to find a balance between the different food groups. We recommend picking an option from each of the categories below for your perfect spread.
Carbs: These can be mini bread slices, fancy crackers, classic Triscuits, or even mini potato wedges. For a more complex palate, you can choose breads that contain nuts and fruits.
Protein: Protein is the heart of your charcuterie board. It includes your cheese, your meat, and your fish. This is where you can really customize for preference.
Depending on what you like, you can choose cheeses with sharp, smoked, or mild flavor profiles. You can even pick between cheeses made with cow milk, sheep milk, or goat milk. Smoked salmon or trout from a fish market make a classy addition, especially if you pair them with lemon slices.
Wet ingredients: Think olives, cornichons (fermented cucumbers), and pickles. If these wet ingredients are hard to merge with other ingredients your board, consider placing them in a chic bowl or saucer. These acidic and salty additions are important to liven up your creamy cheeses and plain crackers.
Fruit and veggies: When the cheese and olives get too salty, vegetables and fruit can add a fresh and hydrating touch. Wet fruits, like sliced peaches and mango, should be placed in a small bowl on your board.
You can also arrange dried fruit in neat pinwheels or leave them on their vine. You can even make little skewers of fruit and cheese (watermelon and feta are an excellent combination). Veggies like cucumber, pepper, and carrots can be cut into sticks and placed near the perimeter of the board. These have a mild flavor, which pair well with your other ingredients.
Sauces: What would veggie sticks be without a hearty hummus dip? Incorporate sauces onto your board to liven up any dry bites. For instance, you can choose a chutney that pairs well with your cheeses or a mustard to go with your meats— anything that can be dolloped onto a cracker to add more pizzaz.
Seeds and nuts: You might think that these are reserved for boring granola bowls, but you’d be greatly mistaken. Roasted pumpkin seeds add crunchiness to goat cheese medallions and are the perfect grazing bowl in between bites. Almonds, which are crunchier and less buttery than cashews, pair well with dried fruits.
How to present components
Feel free to arrange the ingredients however you'd like. These are just three helpful tips in case you'd like some guidance.
- Place your spread on a wooden board, tray, or platter.
2. Don’t be afraid to generously pile, layer, stack or cluster ingredients. Fold the meat and chop the vegetables to make them look more presentable.
3. Always fill in gaps! When it comes to charcuterie boards, cornucopia style looks better than minimalistic. Pack together a small amount of various ingredients to make it look like you have a bountiful spread.