These ideas stand up to the heat, utilizing summer fruits and vegetables and playing up the best cheese and charcuterie selections for right now.
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Credit: Justin Walker

Brimming with tasty meats, cheese, bright produce, and more, summer charcuterie boards are a lovely way to casually entertain or enjoy a laid back grazing meal. Our go-to guide to assembling the ultimate charcuterie board covers the basics; here we're sharing seasonal touches that lend a summery feel to a board (think light and fresh with an emphasis on the flavors we crave in the hot weather). These ideas stand up to the heat and upgrade your board for the season, utilizing summer fruits and vegetables, playing up the best cheese and charcuterie selections for right now, and even adding on special touches like a grilled component or easy quick pickles. Our advice: definitely add summer produce, then pick a few of the fun ideas we outline here to compliment the meats and cheese you decide to serve.

Choose Your Cheese and Charcuterie

Be thoughtful with the cheese and meat selection for your summer charcuterie board. Many people tend to eat lighter in the summer and not all cheeses and meats stand up equally well to the heat. Select firm cheeses like aged cheddars and parmesan and charcuterie like salami that won't get too melty, especially if you are enjoying them outside.

Slice Vegetables for Dipping, Stacking, Pickling, and More

Add a taste of summer to the board by selecting two or more crisp, garden-fresh vegetables such as mini cucumbers, carrots, radishes, and zucchini. Slice them for dipping, either longways or into rounds and they can act as stand-ins for crackers. Here are some other ideas for incorporating seasonal produce on your board:

  • Stack slices of tomato and mozzarella with basil leaves or skewer cherry tomatoes, bocconcini, and basil for grabbable mini caprese salads. Drizzle them with a balsamic reduction for bonus points.
  • Pull apart delicate baby lettuce or endive leaves; they make fantastic, fresh slightly crunchy dippers.
  • Take it a step further and blend tomatoes into gazpacho, then add small shot glasses of cold soup to the board. The flavor is delightful alongside charcuterie and cheese.
  • Rather than opting for jarred pickles, 'tis the season to make your own quick pickles and enjoy the season's bounty in a new way. Pickled green beans, okra, or carrots lend a tangy, crunchy counterpoint to the meats, cheeses, and other elements of your summer charcuterie board.

Fire up the Grill

Summer and grilling go hand and hand, so turn the grill on and add a smokey charred accent to your charcuterie board. Grilled bread seems fancy but is easy to make; simply crisp bread over the fire and serve. Grill and marinate vegetables—zucchini, eggplant, and summer squash make a pretty trio—for a zesty component that feels fresh. Cut the grilled vegetables into small pieces and serve with small plates and forks for easy eating.

Pile on Summer Fruits

Fruit offsets the savory bits on the board with a touch of sweetness and summer is the time to opt for a board filled with super juicy and ripe fresh fruit rather than using dried fruit. Cut up stone fruit like peaches, nectarines, and plums, halve fresh figs, or slice melons like cantaloupe, honeydew, or watermelon into cubes or easy-to-grab wedges. If you want to take it to the next level, wrap each piece of fruit in a slice of prosciutto, wedging a leaf of basil or mint in-between and drizzle with a balsamic reduction. Place handfuls of fresh summer berries, like strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries on your board; add whole cherries with the stem for easy grabbing (make sure to include a small bowl off to the side for pits and stems).

Add Fresh Herbs

Once you've built a summer charcuterie board brimming with freshness, there is one last final touch to consider: an edible garnish. Arranging leaves of tender fresh herbs like mint and basil, looks great and they also pair so well with any bite. Or blend herbs into a pesto for spooning on top of bites or swirling into dips such as hummus and tahini.

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