I would happily make a board for just about every occasion. I love a large tray of assorted goodies to choose from. When I make a large board, I feel like we have nibbles that last for hours. And, well, they’re also very pretty! If made well. Which is surprisingly easy to do. My kids love participating in the process.
Some tips I have for putting together a board:
- Pick a color palette. Either do so by the season (Fall – deep reds, oranges, yellows, golds. Winter – whites, reds, jewel tones, holiday colors. Spring – Bright and cheerful pinks, yellows, greens. Summer – Also bright, and keep it light. Lots of summer berries to choose from!)
- Accent herbs and greenery. Herbs and greens really help beautify the board. Fall and winter, use herbs such as rosemary, sage, or thyme. Use greens such as eucalyptus and spruce. Spring and summer, use mint for a fresh touch, and find bunches of bright greenery at your local grocers. Use the greens to fill in gaps on your board or place a sprig on top of your cheese.
- Flowers. Stick with seasonal flowers from your grocers. Hypericum berries are a fun accent, but they’re not edible.
- Bread and crackers. Slice a baguette on a diagonal. It’s nice to have a mixture of bread and crackers. I almost always have a baguette and Carr’s water crackers. Then, I like to use an assortment of entertainment crackers. Cranberry crisps or rustic, artisan crackers. Firehook Mediterranean crackers. Really, depending on your board, there’s so many options. Have a couple stapes, bread and water crackers, then get creative! Cornbread crisps, pita crackers, Ritz, graham crackers…
- Cheese. I like to always offer a Brie, it seems to be the most popular. Other favorites, aged cheddar, manchego, balsamic flavored cheese. I opt for a variety of soft and hard cheeses. Depending on the amount of people your serving, and the size of your board, you may only have one cheese or you may have 5!
- Jams and other condiments. Have little pinch dishes with small tasting spoons arranged on your board with jam, honey, quince paste, and/or balsamic glaze. Typically, where cheese is sold in your grocer, there’s often condiments that pair well with them. I recommend Mike’s Hot honey! Also, Costco sells large blocks of honeycomb, Cut pieces off to put on top of your brie or goat’s cheese. Or place pieces in a small dish.
- Meats. Prosciutto (always), I bunch pieces up around the board. Salami. Whatever you choose, arrange them by either bunching them, folding them, or laying them in a whimsical, curvy line.
- Fruits. Try to go seasonal, but if the berries look good in the winter, for sure add some to your board. There’s no real rules here! Persimmons, pears, pomegranates, figs, oranges, sugared cranberries, etc. for the fall and winter. Apricots, grapes, cherries, melon, berries, etc. for spring and summer. I like to tuck little dark chocolate or white chocolate chips into my raspberries. I steer away from fruits like apples and bananas that tend to brown quickly. Dried fruits are always a great thing to include! Dried figs, apricots, mangoes, dates, golden raisins, etc.
- Nuts. Whatever you like, pistachios. walnuts, cashews, cinnamon coated almonds, spicy peanuts, etc.
- Pickels and/or olives. Cornichons, olives, other pickled goods.
- Sweets! Include some chocolate or yogurt covered fruits, nuts, or pretzels. My favorite is chocolate covered espresso beans. Sometimes, we make exclusively treat boards! For Hanukkah we fill a board with blue, yellow, and white frosted sugar cookies, marshmallows, gelt (chocolate coins), blue gummies, yogurt covered treats.
Once you have gone shopping for the above items, have fun! I have found my kids rummaging through the fridge and cupboards, gathering items and arranging their own boards for an impromptu tea party. This is a great, engaging activity for kids. My daughter loves using her creativity to fill and design a board. Put on your favorite tunes and create something beautiful and edible!