Learn how to build a summer charcuterie board! A summer charcuterie is an easy no cook appetizer that's perfect for entertaining. This impressive appetizer travels well if you're headed to a pool party, can be made ahead for your BBQ, and uses fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Charcuterie (pronounced "shar - koo - tuh - ree") originated in France as a display of cured meats. The term and dish later evolved to display an assortment of meat, cheese, pickled foods, crackers, bread, dips, olives, dried and fresh fruit, and nuts. Charcuterie boards are notoriously arranged beautifully on a serving board of choice.
In fact, I think summer time is the best time to serve charcuterie. Sun-kissed children, long balmy days are stretching out in front of you, punctuated by eating out on long warm evenings and delightful picnics by the beach or in the countryside. OK, maybe that is too bucolic a picture to paint, but the fact remains that during the summer, charcuterie provides a wonderful, portable, delicious appetizer, snack or meal and is at the height of its charm during the summer months.
I made these darling snack boards last weekend after a beautiful morning of sightseeing at the baths of Antonius. The baths are also the only remaining Thermae of Carthage that dates back to the Roman Empire. They were a beautiful place for our kids to play and learn. The hot summer heat, rich history lesson, and breathtaking views made me hungry for something a little more fancy than a typical snack. Charcuterie is so simple to make, yet so elegant to look at. Once you learn how to build a summer charcuterie board - you'll be making it frequently, I'm sure.
If you think about it, it's simple, the animal that produces the milk that produces your cheese, whether cow, sheep, or goat, has spent the last three or four months grazing on rich, verdant, lush vegetation of the spring and early summer, therefore, the milk produced is tastier and more fragrant than normal for those of you enjoying cheese in the summer.
Sourcing ingredients for a summer charcuterie board:
I opt for mostly fresh, seasonal fruit and soft cheese on a summer charcuterie board. I also recommend styling it with fresh flowers or fresh edible greenery vs In the cold months, where I opt to use dried fruit and herbs. Beautiful stone fruit like apricots and cherries are perfect for a summer charcuterie board.
Choosing the right board to serve your charcuterie on:
For small gatherings, serve several mini charcuterie boards that are perfect for a couple to share over wine. You'll want to look for mini cutting boards with a handle.
Cheese for a summer charcuterie board:
During the summer months, soft cheeses with rinds are often the ones to consider as they are at their best, Camembert being the best-known example, but if you can find a delicatessen or a cheese-shop do go in and ask to try samples of other cheeses, Maroilles being a good example, it is for those who like their cheeses strong and salty, and almost meaty inexperience.
Amableu an American gourmet cheese made in Minnesota is a cows' milk cheese that is also really worth investigating. It's cured and ripened in caves and is aged for 75 days. It is a sharp white cheese but with blue veins. For a more easily found cheese, try out Roquefort, which is also veined with green and is semi-soft and delicious also.
Another beautiful soft cheese perfect for summer days and evenings is Chaumes Cheese; soft and yielding inside its orange rind, it is produced from pasteurized milk, and it is a milder option to the many already mentioned, perfect to snack on, take for picnics, or for wine tasting. Similar to these and very easily found is Port Salut, another French cheese; it is great for picnics, with cracker bread or biscuits and is a delightfully versatile cheese.
Apple Smoked Cheddar
If you aren't as fond of softer cheeses, then why not try Cheddar with a difference? Apple Smoked Cheddar cheese has all the familiarity of a Cheddar with a smoky backdrop that can be used in cooking and is easily transportable for summer picnics in cool bags, etc.
And you can't forget about goat's cheese. It can be soft and creamy, perfect for pairing with summer fruits and spread on a French baguette.
By far, the best tip I can give you is to find a good cheese supplier and go and ask them to let you try samples; you will then find out what you like and don't like.
What else should you put on your charcuterie board:
A charcuterie board should be well balanced with sweet, savory and salty flavors.
sweet, seasonal items for a charcuterie board
- honey, like my garlic hot honey
- dried fruit
savory items for a charcuterie board
- cornichon pickles
- green olives
- black truffle french salami
salty items for a charcuterie board
- cured meats
- smoked salmon
styling your charcuterie board
Along with sourcing the best ingredients, in order to build a summer charcuterie board you'll want to style it beautifully. I love to add a variety of cheeses on my board along with some edible flowers. Everything looks more beautiful with flowers. Try adding some fresh cut organic garden roses, or my candied flower petals. You'll want to start with your large items as your base, and build around it. And don't forget to add lots of texture, from small pots of jam, to almonds and dried apricots.
What to serve with your summer charcuterie:
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