I’ve been really into the idea of holiday cheese boards these days, sharing platters, and have become more and more intrigued by family style sharing restaurants.
When it comes to dining out, I always feel torn about what to order on the menu because I am incredibly indecisive, and want to eat everything. I always seem to settle for an entree dish because I fear that ordering small dishes won’t fill my belly up. Irrational thinking, or what?!
In the West, we definitely have very skewed thinking when it comes to portion sizes. We always think that more and bigger is better, but as we all know, this is definitely not the case. Sometimes you feel much more satisfied having experienced a variety of different foods and flavours, instead of consuming a main course with very similar (and generally boring) ingredients.
Sharing platters (or grazing tables) are becoming a lot more popular these days, and for good reason. It seems to be a way more interactive way of consuming your food, and definitely feels a lot more social. Not to mention, you naturally feel super sophisticated and classy eating gourmet cheeses and unique ingredients that you wouldn’t get elsewhere.
With the holidays upon us, I’ve been feeling very inspired to create the ultimate cheese board, and so, I did! This board features almost everything imaginable in it. It consists of four different types of cheeses, dry cured meats, dried fruits, an assortment of veggies, popcorn, aged garlic, sourdough bread, an array of crackers, homemade hummus, etc. It really is a feast for your eyes.
Brie & Banquet
Last year I got to experience eating from one of these grazing platters for the first time. A local catering company, specializing in grazing tables & platters, called Brie & Banquet created a cheese platter for my co-workers and I. If you are in the Calgary area, I highly recommend checking her out for your holiday party needs! Her platters are absolutely incredible, and truly are a work of art. She has definitely inspired me to start creating my own boards.
What I find so fun about these holiday cheese boards is that you can create so many different flavour combinations. You can experiment with all the ingredients provided and find the best combinations to suit your taste buds.
My favourite combination in this holiday cheese board was the sourdough bread with orange & fig jam, topped with herbed goat cheese, a bit of aged garlic and prosciutto. An absolute burst of flavours! I feel that there really aren’t any rules when it comes to making these boards. However, I do think it’s extremely fun to source unique ingredients that the average person has never tried before. It makes the experience that much more interesting for your guests!
With that being said, please take my ingredient list as a rough guide for what your holiday cheese board could potentially be. Have fun with it! These boards can also be easily made vegetarian or vegan by sourcing more vegetables and including vegan cheese. Yum!
Preparing food is such a creative process and I feel that making these boards really allows your creativity to shine through! If you really want to WOW your guests this holiday season, having one of these boards would definitely do the trick!
More Holiday Food Ideas
Holiday Grazing Board
- assortment of dry cured meats, such as prosciutto, salami, and kielbasa
- assortment of cheeses, 3-6 different kinds—I used herbed goat cheese, espresso aged cheddar, brie, and aged Gouda
- 1 jar of marinated olives
- 1/2 jar of pickled carrots
- 1/2 jar of pickles
- 2 clusters of grapes, green & red
- 1/2 pomegranate, sliced
- 1 loaf of ciabatta sourdough bread, sliced
- 1/2 package of raincoast crisps
- handful of gingerbread cookies, store bought, gluten-free
- handful of butter caramel popcorn
- 1/2 cucumber, sliced
- 1/2 red pepper, sliced
- 2 celery ribs, sliced thinly
- 3 cloves black garlic
- raw honey
- olive & fig spread
- 4 mandarin oranges
- dried apricots and figs
- crispy spiced chickpeas
- assortments of herbs, rosemary and sage
- cashews, pistachios
- organic turkey deli slices
homemade hummus (recipe from Cookie + Kate)
- 1 can, 15 ounces chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- ½ teaspoon baking soda, if you’re using canned chickpeas
- ¼ cup lemon juice, from 1 ½ to 2 lemons, more to taste
- 1 medium-to-large clove garlic, roughly chopped
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
- ½ cup tahini
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- sprinkle of smoked paprika
- Start by simply just laying out ingredients on your surface. I started with the cheeses and crackers.
- You can just work around the shapes of your ingredients to fill your board. I tried not to overdo it on any one ingredient, since you are working with so many!
- I really love playing with colour. Adding a few pops of bright colours throughout the board really makes it more eye-catching to your guests!
- I tried to fill my board completely with ingredients, but feel free to fill as much as you like!
- To make the hummus (recipe adapted from Cookie & Kate), place the chickpeas in a medium saucepan and add the baking soda.
- Cover the chickpeas by several inches of water, then bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Continue boiling, reducing heat if necessary to prevent overflow, for about 20 minutes, or until the chickpeas look bloated, their skins are falling off, and they’re quite soft. In a fine-mesh strainer, drain the chickpeas and run cool water over them for about 30 seconds. Set aside (no need to peel the chickpeas for this recipe!).
- Meanwhile, in a food processor or high-powered blender, combine the lemon juice, garlic and salt. Process until the garlic is very finely chopped, then let the mixture rest so the garlic flavor can mellow, ideally 10 minutes or longer.
- Add the tahini to the food processor and blend until the mixture is thick and creamy, stopping to scrape down any tahini stuck to the sides and bottom of the processor as necessary.
- While running the food processor, drizzle in 2 tablespoons ice water. Scrape down the food processor, and blend until the mixture is ultra smooth, pale and creamy. (If your tahini was extra-thick to begin with, you might need to add 1 to 2 tablespoons more ice water.)
- 10. Add the cumin and the drained, over-cooked chickpeas to the food processor. While blending, drizzle in the olive oil. Blend until the mixture is super smooth, scraping down the sides of the processor as necessary, about 2 minutes. Add more ice water by the tablespoon if necessary to achieve a super creamy texture.
- 11. Taste, and adjust as necessary—I almost always add another ¼ teaspoon salt for more overall flavor and another tablespoon of lemon juice for extra zing.
- 12. Scrape the hummus into a serving bowl or platter, and use a spoon to create nice swooshes on top. Top with garnishes of your choice, and serve. Leftover hummus keeps well in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 1 week.