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Have you ever had last-minute guests and had to quickly put something together?


This past weekend we had some friends come over last minute for a glass of wine {insert anxiety} I had to quickly figure something out. A glass of wine never turns out to be just a glass of wine, am I right? And you most certainly need some munchies while you are sipping on a glass of vino.


I had to tame the inner planner in me {I kinda need 2-3 days to plan every last detail out - it’s a blessing & a curse} and roll with it. With limited time, I decided on one of my go-to’s and one of my favorites {to eat & make} and threw together a charcuterie board. Garnished it with fresh strawberries & olive branch clippings from the yard.


I used to be completely intimated by charcuterie boards and thought they had to be some extravagant display. While charcuterie boards can be an elaborate display of meats, cheeses, fruits, nuts, and veggies it certainly doesn't have to be. So I thought I'd share some tips I've learned along the way.


Choose your board or whatever piece you decide to display your spread.




Why do this first? For space planning, of course! I have found myself over-buying items and didn't have enough space for it all.


Think about it this way...it's like going to a furniture store and buying several pieces of furniture because you love it without measuring the room. The day your furniture arrives you're super excited to receive it. You watch the delivery guys/gals start unloading, unwrapping, and then they ask "where do you want it"? The anxiety quickly consumes you as you realize that the couch and loveseat are too big for your space.

I've used different displays over the years like metal, wood, and chalkboard/slate trays; cutting boards; long-serving platter. I'm longing for the day that I have enough guests where it can do a whole table display!


Here are some of my favorites from Sur La Table



Some great finds from Kirkland's


Once you decide on your board you can start your grocery list!



I am a fan of including cheese, meat, nuts, and fruit on one tray but it is a personal preference. You honestly cannot mess this up, that's one why I love charcuterie boards so much!


Where I shop really depends on the number of quests I will be entertaining but my primary grocers are Costco, Trader Joe's, and Wholefoods. Both have a great selection of meats and cheeses {my primary focus when creating my charcuterie boards}. I make my shopping selection from each of the categories below:


Hard Cheeses

  • Manchego

  • Aged Gouda

  • Parmigiano Reggiano

  • Merlot BellaVitano

  • Pecorino Romano

  • Cheddar

  • Havarti

Soft Cheeses & Spreads

  • Brie

  • Brillat-Savarin

  • Blue Cheese

  • Garlic & Herb Cheese Spread

  • Shallot & Chive Cheese Spread

Meats

  • Prosciutto

  • Dry Salami

  • Hard Salami

  • Jamon {Spanish Ham}

Fruits {fresh & dried}

  • Pears

  • Grapes

  • Strawberries

  • Dried Apricots

  • Dates

  • Olives

  • Chocolate Covered Acai Berries

Nuts {dry & honey roasted}

  • Almonds

  • Cashews

  • Walnuts

  • Pistachios

  • Mixed Nuts

  • Chocolate Covered Almonds

Bread & Crackers & Crisps

  • French Baguettes

  • Water Crackers

  • Rosemary Raisin Crisps

  • Cranberry and Hazelnut Crisps

  • Fig & Olive Crisps

  • Multigrain Crackers

  • Breadsticks

  • Chocolate covered pretzels

Accompaniments

  • Honey

  • Truffle Honey

  • Fig Jam

  • Dijon Mustard

  • Caviar

Now for the fun part...creating the display!



There is one thing that I want you to remember you cannot mess this up. Follow the simple steps below {or throw them out the window} and go for it!


I typically start out arranging 3-5 small dishes {for a small to medium-sized charcutiere} on my display surface. These are my constants and guides for the rest of the charcuterie board. These dishes are where I add olives, jams, honey, nuts, and my favorite chocolate-covered acai berries.


From there I lay the meat around the dishes. I will separate each slice and either roll the meat into tubes or just scrunch it up so they are easy to pick up with a fork.


Once the meat is all displayed, I arrange the cheese. If it can be broken apart into pieces I prefer to do that, I think it gives a more rustic feel. The softer cheese I will cut into small triangular slices where with cheddar and Havarti I tend to slice thin or cut into cubes.


Around the cheese, display your crackers, crisps, and bread. I prefer a more freeform presentation but you can stack or lay them out in a more linear way if you like.


Now it's time to add some color and natural elements! In any gaps add your fruit and nuts. Sprinkle them throughout the board. Larger gaps you can fill with a sprig of grapes, sliced apples, or pears. I like adding some greenery and will typically cut some olive branches from our tree or add some rosemary sprigs.


Now, uncork your favorite bottle of vino and enjoy!


Here are some charcuterie boards that I love:


Images left to right: William Sonoma, William Sonoma, adashofmegnut.com


And if you're ready to take on a bigger display, check my blog, Charcuterie Board On Steriods.