Most people associate Châteauneuf du Pape with wine. But the first thing that comes to my mind is charcuterie–specifically an epic spread of meat, cheese, and fruit that Will and I shared one night on our honeymoon (accompanied by some of that famous wine, of course.)
My second fondest charcuterie memory is from Québec City, where Will and I spent a week recovering from last fall’s Toronto Marathon. Though much less legit-looking than our French version, we had a blast building our board from various shops on Rue Saint-Joseph (Saint-Roche neighborhood–still obsessed).
A few weeks ago, we decided that a charcuterie board was the obvious way to christen our new table and cutting board (both of which Will made!). So to Whole Foods we went for an expert-advised array of meat and cheese. We also grabbed fruit, crackers, and olives; made a few condiments and nibbles; and stocked up on Perrier and wine. The finished product was, admittedly, about as expensive as the fancy restaurant boards we were trying to undercut. But owning the whole process was super fun–and no one’s complaining about leftovers here.
Putting together your own charcuterie board is as simple or as involved as you want it to be. If you have time to spare, there are a few things I think are worth making. Start with the Make section below if that’s you! If you’re pressed for time, there’s zero shame in a quick grocery run and an at-home assembly. For those folks, skip to the Buy section, and grab some hummus, jam, nuts, and pickles while you’re out.
I’m by no means a charcuterie pro, but here’s a loose template we used for our recent spread. If you give it a go, let me know how it turns out and what you’d change for next time!
Make (If You Have the Motivation & Time)
- Beet Hummus // I followed this recipe, reprinted from Run Fast. Eat Slow.
- Dill Pickles // I made these, with Kirby cucumbers from the farmer’s market.
- Herb-Toasted Nuts // Using this as a guide, I used pecans and walnuts (because that’s what I had) plus herbs from our planter.
- Blueberry Jam // Half Baked Harvest Cookbook has a good, simple recipe. Use whatever fruit you have in excess!
Buy (Unless You’re Mother Noella Marcellino)
- Cheese // Three to six varieties should do the trick, depending on your crowd size. For the two of us, we mixed two classic options (parmesan + chèvre) with two bolder ones (Red Dragon cheddar with mustard seeds and brown ale + blue with caramelized onion). A good rule of thumb is to include one soft cheese (like goat or brie), one firm (parmesan or manchego), one aged (gruyere or aged cheddar), and, if you’re into them, one blue (gorgonzola or roquefort).
- Meat // For meat, we played it safe with three kinds: prosciutto, salami, and pepperoni. It’s always a good idea to ask someone at the meat counter what they’re excited about right now or what they’d recommend for your particular spread. If you have access to a specialty meat shop, hit that up for sure!
- Produce // Fruit-wise, you can’t go wrong with fresh berries, grapes, or whatever else is in season. Figs, apricots, grapefruit, pomegranate… there’s no wrong move! Vegetables are definitely not required, but if they’re unobtrusive and colorful, they won’t hurt, either. We included a few thin carrots from our farmers market.
- Condiments // Along with our hummus and blueberry jam, we added Mountain Peach Whipped Honey (a souvenir from last year’s Lafayette Peach Festival). A grainy or honey mustard would be nice too.
- Carb-y Things // It (almost) goes without saying that you’ll need vessels for your cheese, meats, and spreads. Good crackers, thinly sliced bread, pretzels, and/or breadsticks are all good calls.
- Extras // This is for the overachievers out there. If you want to round out your board with some nice but nonessential elements, here are some ideas: fresh herbs (like basil, thyme, and/or rosemary); olives; honeycomb; roasted red peppers; mixed dried fruit; and marinated artichokes.