Culinary Inspiration

Summer means picnics, parties and gathering with friends and family—all great reasons to master the art of the perfect cheese board for entertaining! Don’t be intimidated by the elaborate masterpieces you may have seen on Pinterest, though. Our easy-to-follow guide will help you craft an effortless party appetizer array that will impress all of your guests.

Making an amazing cheese board can be as easy as selecting in-season fruits and pairing them with complementary cheeses and always-available California walnuts. There’s no one recipe for success, but these tips will guide you in the right direction and get your creativity flowing!

Charcuterie with Walnuts

Choose your Cheeses

Not surprisingly, it’s best to start with the cheese! There are so many delicious cheeses to choose from it can be hard to narrow down a selection all of your guests will enjoy. You’ll want to make sure you have diverse flavors and textures on your board, so try these tips as you make your selections:

  • Vary the cheese source: Choose one type of cow cheese, one goat cheese, and one sheep cheese.
  • Vary the cheese consistency: Choose one soft-ripened cheese, one hard-aged cheese, and one fresh cheese.

Three cheeses is typically a good number to build a board around. But for larger parties, you may want to consider adding one or two more, depending on the other appetizer options. If you really want to step up your cheese game, try your hand at Baked Brie with Maple-Glazed Walnuts.

Pick your Fruits

Once you’ve selected your cheeses, it will be easier to find fruits to complement the flavor profiles you’ve chosen. In summer, stone fruits are an excellent way to go because they’re ripe and fresh, and there are plenty of cheeses that pair well with them.

For example, apricots, plums and peaches all taste delicious with Taleggio and Camembert. Both of these semi-soft cheeses have a mild flavor that’s almost fruity, making them a natural combination. Plus, the bold colors of the fruit will be visually appealing next to the creamy color of the cheese.

Another way to incorporate fruits is as homemade jams or spreads! This is especially useful if your board includes crackers. You can also try dried versions of any of these fruits.

Add Something Crunchy and Salty

A good cheese board has a variety of flavors and textures to contrast and complement each other. Think toasted walnuts, smoked or cured meats, marinated olives or even freshly toasted bread.

Toasted walnuts make a superb addition to a cheese board because of their crunchy texture and warm, buttery flavor. They can also help fill in extra space on your board so that it looks full and bountiful! If you want to spice them up a bit, you can opt for honey roasted cardamom walnuts, or even rosemary sea salt walnuts. The possibilities are endless!

Consider including cured meats and olives to your board. Meats like prosciutto and salami can help turn your cheese board from appetizer into a more filling meal option. And with so many varieties of olives, it’s easy to find different flavors to match the flavor profiles you’re working with.

Once you have all of the elements selected, it’s time for the fun part – putting it all together! Think about your cheese board as a visual centerpiece that will excite your guests and encourage them to dig in. As you’re arranging everything, build it so that your board is aesthetically pleasing from all viewpoints at the table.

Next, decide what type of eating experience you want your guests to have. If you want to guide them into suggested pairing combinations, group those ingredients together on the board and even add a small sign suggesting what to eat together. For more of an interactive experience, you can simply lay out all the options and let the eater experiment with the various fruits, nuts, meats, and your cheeses to discover their ideal combination.

Let your Imagination Soar

Above all, get creative with your cheese board! When it comes to possible combinations, the sky’s the limit. Choose a variety of flavors, textures, and colors, and your summer cheese board is sure to be a success.

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