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Bored With Your Boards? Then Get On Board With This

Shake up traditional charcuterie boards with these tasty twists.

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Rosanna Anil
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In 2020, I wrote an article for The Girlfriend about a relatively new trend in food styling — charcuterie boards. Although these types of meat-and-cheese boards had been around for a while, social media coverage gave them a moment to shine.

Three years later, food boards are more popular than ever. While charcuterie is usually a term used for meats, board presentation has evolved into a canvas for a wide range of treats, from breakfast goodies to desserts.

“Board nights” (where each guest brings a different food board) are fun, casual ways to entertain at home. Putting together a standard board presentation is relatively simple, but there are tips to ensure that yours isn’t boring.

Layer up

No matter what type of board you are building, it's essential to use a complimentary variety of quality ingredients displayed in a way that is visually appealing and user-friendly.

“Whether you are making a standard meat-and-cheese charcuterie or another type of board, the key is proper layering,” says Claudia Khoury, owner of Tavola Charcuterie in Westfield, New Jersey. “If you are the type of person that doesn't like their different foods to touch, a board presentation is probably not for you. The prettiest boards look full and have no empty spaces.”

You want to place the largest elements first and then continue in size order, filling in any holes at the end with garnishes and small items such as nuts.

Another important styling tip is to create symmetry. "Whatever you do on one side of the board, you should do on the other," explains Khoury. "You want the board to look balanced.”

Meat-and-cheese boards

Khoury recommends using three cheeses. “It’s important to use cheeses of varying textures, so I suggest serving a soft (Brie), a semi-hard (cheddar), and a hard (Parmigiana Reggiano).

Regarding meats, Khoury advises people to pick what they like. "Chorizo, prosciutto, anything goes, or no meat if you prefer. But please, just bite-size slices, no salami roses (the trend where you form a flower with meat over a glass) — I’m not a fan!”

Add a ramekin or small jar with fig jam or another condiment and then some fresh fruit. "Cheeses are usually bland in color, so fresh fruit is important for visual impact," explains Khoury. "Choosing something seasonal such as watermelon in the summer will ensure that the fruit is less expensive and help keep the color palate in line with the season or holiday.”

After the fruit, place the crackers. “Keep it simple here but good quality," says Khoury, "It's the meat and cheeses that are the star of the show. The crackers are the vessel; they need to be sturdy enough to ensure the perfect bite."

Fill empty spaces with small items such as nuts or olives, and lastly, add garnishes such as fresh herbs or edible flowers (no fresh flowers) for more color.

Breakfast boards

Breakfast foods are ideal for serving board-style. Again, start with cheeses and then add fresh fruit, followed by pastries. “Fruit is key on a breakfast board as cheeses and pastries like croissants, mini waffles and bagels all tend to be monochromatic,” explains Khoury.

Pick pastries that can all be served at room temperature and buy miniature versions or cut them into small, bite-size pieces. Purchase baked goods the day you are serving to guarantee freshness. Add small ramakins of assorted jams, chocolate sauce, maple syrup and cream cheese.

Ice cream and dessert boards

An ice cream sundae board is a definite crowd-pleaser. Place assorted toppings in individual ramekins. Everything from sprinkles to crushed Oreos, shredded coconut, fresh berries, fudge sauce, caramel, and cookie dough will work. Fill in gaps on the board with marshmallows, large and small. Keep the ice cream to the side and remove it from the freezer when ready to serve.

A dessert board is ideal for entertaining (after all, small bites mean you can try more things) using cookies, bite-sized pieces of pound cake, fresh fruit and sweet dips. To fill in the spaces, try white chocolate-covered pretzels, dried fruit and caramel popcorn.

Candy boards

"Again, color is key for visual pop," says Khoury. Pick durable candies such as Swedish fish, jellybeans, gummy bears and licorice sticks. "You want to avoid doing too much of the same type/color of candy so it's bright, festive, and interesting. Personally, I would avoid chocolates on a candy board as those can easily melt and ruin the presentation."

Veggie boards

Khoury’s big tip for vegetable boards is to go with unusual color options when available. Instead of white cauliflower, look for purple. Try multi-colored cherry tomatoes rather than all red. Add ramekins of artichoke dip, ranch dip and hummus. Garnish with watermelon radishes, fresh herbs and edible flowers.

Khoury reminds people that you don't have to spend a lot of money to make a board special. She explains, "It's all about taking the extra step. For example, I'll slice a soft cheese like a hunk of brie in half. I'll cut out a star or flower in the center with a cookie cutter and then fill in the shape with jam. It's simple, but people notice."

Another way Khoury makes her boards Instagram-worthy is by sticking to a theme like a holiday. For a July 4th board, use strawberries and blueberries for a patriotic feel. A mini gourd, dried orange slices and candy corn are ideal for a Halloween presentation. Khoury says, "The small attention to detail makes a big impact."

 What do you like to include on your charcuterie boards? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Lifestyle