Steps to arrange the best grazing platter ever
When it comes to home entertaining the beautiful flavour combinations and bounty of fresh seasonal produce of a grazing platter are always a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
Not to mention there’s next to no prep time, zero challenging cooking techniques, or much washing up required, just artfully place all your favourite ingredients across the board and serve. Easy-peasy.
‘What ingredients do I need?’, ‘What types of cheese do I need and how many?’ and ‘How do I make it not only taste amazing but look amazing?’. These are all common queries that spring to mind when starting to think about where to start and how to make a grazing platter.
Here’s our advice when it comes to selecting ingredients to achieve just the right balance of crunchy, sweet, and salty flavours on your grazing platter, and how to pull it together to impress your family and friends.
As the hero ingredient for any grazing plate, let's start with the cheese. We love cheese boards as they can be as simple or elaborate as you desire and can work for an intimate group or satisfy a crowd.
While there are no strict rules when it comes to selecting cheeses, we suggest choosing your favourite three to five cheeses and showcasing a variety of different flavours and textures. Depending on the number of guests, three kinds of cheese for a small group and five for over 10 people is usually sufficient.
You may like to include soft cheeses (oozy baked camembert, brie, goats cheese, apricot and almond cream cheese), semi-soft cheese (comté, edam, mozzarella, havarti), and a piece of hard cheese (aged cheddar, parmesan).
Tip: The best way to enjoy cheeses is at room temperature, so we recommend taking your cheeses out of the fridge about 45 minutes prior to serving.
When it comes to storing cheeses, so you can enjoy them on another day and avoid food waste, store any leftovers in a sealable plastic container in the fridge to prevent the cheese from drying out.
Now that we’ve got the cheeses locked in, you’ll want to add four or five delicious salty items to complement the cheeses.
We suggest selecting one type of charcuterie meat (think: loosely rolled pieces of prosciutto, salami slices, paté or fried chorizo), some cured fruits (such as a ramekin of mixed olives, sun-dried tomatoes or gherkins), nuts (pistachios, cashews, almonds or walnuts) and a delicious spread (such as black olive tapenade, tomato chutney or fancy mustard).
Tip: If you’re hosting a vegetarian crowd, switch out your meats with hummus and veggie sticks for dipping. For bonus points, make your own hummus – guests will appreciate the extra effort.
Mount Zero Olive Jam: Think quince paste, but better
A touch of sweetness is a great way to add depth to your grazing platter.
There are a variety of ways to achieve this – muscatel (dried muscat grapes), sliced fruit such as pear or apple, bush honey or quince paste.
We think we've perfected this part of the grazing platter, however, with our very own Mount Zero Olive Jam!
Olives may not be the first fruit that comes to mind when you think of jam, but trust us: one taste of this delicious preserve and you'll be slathering it on everything. The flavour, texture and slight sweetness of this jam make it a perfect accompaniment for a variety of cheeses. A cave-aged cheddar or (our favourite) a luscious, creamy triple cream brie is a great place to start.
Now for the items that bring all your delicious ingredients together – the savoury stars. We like to include two or three different savoury nibbles to enjoy your cheese and charcuterie items on and with.
You’ll want to include at least one type of cracker suitable for cheese wedges and may like to add one type of bread. Slices of baguette, water crackers, focaccia, rice crackers, cracker thins, pretzels, mini breadsticks, Turkish bread or pita bread are all effective and attractive accompaniments for a luxurious grazing platter.
Grazing platter prep instructions
Step 1. Arrange the cheeses randomly across the board. For looks and neatness, it’s best to leave your cheeses whole (don’t pre-slice) allowing guests to cut the size they want. Don’t forget to include different cheese knives for each type to avoid cross-contamination of flavours (this is especially important if you’re serving blue cheese, as it’s not everyone's cup of tea).
Step 2. Loosely roll slices of your choice of deli meat, so it’s easy for guests to pick up, and tuck them near the cheeses.
Step 3. Add a couple of ramekins or small dishes of marinated olives, olive oil, tapenade, hummus, chutney or olive jam. Don’t forget to add little knives and serving spoons.
Step 4. Lay small bunches of grapes still on the vine (to keep things tidy) across the board, add fig halves, pear quarters and dried fruits, and then sprinkle handfuls of berries last to fill any gaps and avoid bruising.
Step 5. Add crackers, breadsticks or pile slices of bread filling in the gaps near the fruit. Depending on the look you’re going for you could place a bowl of baguette slices or crackers close by or serve them on the platter.
Step 6. Lastly, sprinkle nuts and tuck fresh fragrant leafy herbs (think rosemary, basil or mint sprigs) to fill any gaps between the cheese, meats, fruit and bread and you’re good to go!
We hope these tips and ideas help you to create the most incredible grazing platter.
Remember, your spread doesn’t need to be overly complicated. You can’t go wrong with a beautiful mix of cheeses, some fresh fruit and a selection of crunchy crackers.