Build an Easy, Elegant Summer Grazing Board That Doubles as Dinner
Just call our deputy food editor Greg Lofts the chairman of the board! He composes this irresistible spread when he wants to feed his crew—or just himself—without cooking a thing (quick-pickled red onions are as involved as it gets). "I treat it like an easy, light summer dinner but it's also great to put on patio when I want it to feel more special than olives or cheese and crackers," says Greg. "The secret is mixing textures and flavors." If you fancy a summer grazing board for dinner tonight or to share with friends over drinks on the weekend, here's what Greg suggests you shop for and how to build it.
Greg always includes these elements: a bread-y vehicle (he likes a crusty baguette or crunchy-sturdy crostini); a pat of butter and a wedge of goat gouda or Danish blue cheese for creaminess; a salty protein or two (try tinned fish or mushroom pâte for a vegetarian option); briny marinated vegetables or store-bought giardiniera; something fresh and peppery (arugula or radish microgreens); and a grainy mustard for extra zip. "It's really all about what you like. Consider what's shown here to just be a roadmap," he explains. Keep in mind that you should only serve things that can sit out at room temperature and don't need to be prepared at the last minute.
In the middle of summer, choose vegetables that will shine in color and flavor. Look for large heirloom tomatoes in vivid shades of firetruck red, bright yellow, deep green, and orange. Cut them into wedges or thin slices, then sprinkle with flaky sea salt and a drizzle of good-quality extra-virgin olive oil. Another warm-weather favorite? Zucchini. When picked at its peak, zucchini can be served raw and unadorned so that its delicate flavor shines.
The Meat of the Board
This is the time to break out the good stuff—top notch tinned fish, such as La Brújula's yellowfin tuna belly ($14.56, gourmetfoodstore.com), cod liver ($3.89, yummybazaar.com), or José Gourmet's trout fillets in a pickled sauce ($13.99, cornershopapp.com). While you can certainly make your own pâté at home, it's a time-consuming process and there are plenty of irresistible store-bought options. Look for pâté near the gourmet cheese or smoked fish section of the grocery store. Greg also is a fan of serving nice deli meat such as good-quality ham, carved turkey, prosciutto, or speck.
All in the Garnishes
Don't misjudge microgreens by their size. While dainty, they pack a punch (and look visually appealing, too). Because they're so delicate, they can go bad within just a few days so buy them as close as you can to party time. In addition, a small bowl of whole grain or country Dijon mustard, room temperature unsalted butter (this is the time to use the good stuff), and a mixture of sea salt and crushed peppercorns for seasoning are the perfect finishing touches.
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