We love entertaining, and we’re so excited that this summer, it looks like we’ll be able to have friends and family over whenever we want and be able to stay healthy. We’re already dreaming up all of our party menus. But one thing that always stresses us out is coming up with an appetizer or starter course. That’s because they tend to get pretty elaborate, and it gets a little chaotic when we’re spending a ton of time cooking up the appetizers when we need to be focusing in on the entree too. That’s why we’re totally on-board with Martha Stewart’s summer entertaining hack. On-board…see what we did there? Stewart skips the cooking all together, and instead, she serves guests a beautifully composed grazing board as an appetizer.
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So, how do you turn a simple, boring cheese plate into a beautiful, party-worthy grazing board?
For starters, you need a nice board. Look for an oversized wood, bamboo, or marble board, or pair two smaller boards together if that’s all you have. You need enough space to artfully arrange your ingredients.
Next up, prepare your ingredients. Make sure your different varieties of vegetables, fruits, cheeses, and other ingredients are cut small enough that they can be eaten in one or two bites (and they should be able to be eaten with your fingers, so skip the sticky stuff).
When it comes to choosing your ingredients, take into consideration the weather, and the fact that these are finger foods. You want two or three firm, aged cheeses that can stand up to the summer heat. Select a couple of different kinds of charcuterie or cured meats (skip this if you have a vegetarian crew), along with a few colorful dips. Round out the core of the platter with brightly colored seasonal fruits and veggies in a rainbow of vibrant hues.
Last but not least, crackers and nuts add crunch to your grazing board.
Arrange your grazing board by setting out the dips, then putting each cheese and charcuterie in its own section. Surround these with vegetables, fruits, crackers, and nuts, adding some fresh herbs for garnish. The end result? A no-cook appetizer with something for everyone, and it looks like a still life painting.
In search of more summer recipes? Giada De Laurentiis has plenty:
Watch: How to Make a Halloween Grazing Board
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