Your Shopping List

View Shopping List

Shar/Ku/Tuh/Ree: Your Edible Art Project

It's one of the most popular trends on social media.


It has been even been called the "adult lunchable."

You have probably seen these in magazines, at local restaurants and elsewhere, as there seems to be an obsession to create Instagram-worthy masterpieces!


We are talking about charcuterie boards!

Growing up, our family simply called this a meat and cheese tray.  And, it was pretty basic...sliced summer sausage, sliced cheddar, Club crackers and Wheat Thins, and maybe some KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce for dipping.  Grapes might be added occasionally.  Please don't get me wrong, we love our family and don't want to throw them under the bus, but since discovering the amazing universe of REAL foods, this basic "meat and cheese tray" makes us cringe now!

There was a time when we had no idea what "charcuterie" was, and don't even ask for me to pronounce it correctly, let alone spell it!  (for what it's worth, it is pronounced “shar/ku/tuh/ree”).


Why are charcuterie boards such a big deal now?

Their popularity is with good reason.  This French-inspired delicacy is easy to prepare, customizable, and lets you experience a variety of flavors thanks to different combinations of cheeses, meats, fruits, and a wide variety of other ingredients.  Besides looking stunning, they can easily be arranged on just about any board or serving plate.  A charcuterie board is like a work of art...a blank canvas that can be customized to your personal preferences.  And, especially this time of year, it's a great way to celebrate the flavors of fall and enjoy at your holiday parties.


What is "charcuterie?"

Charcuterie is a French term related to the art of preparing cured meats.  A charcuterie board is traditionally a selection of cured meats, surrounded by other foods that complement those meats...often including a variety of cheeses, nuts, crackers, fruits and dips / spreads.

We know, some of you may be thinking "what about the processed meats?"  A lot of these traditional boards are predominantly made up of processed meats that are high in sodium and have been declared by the World Health Organization as "carcinogenic to humans."

The good news?!  These traditional charcuterie boards have now inspired a whole new universe of boards, including many that take the focus away from the processed meats.  These "non-traditional" boards are a perfect opportunity to serve up a selection of nutritious and delicious REAL food!


Paint Your Canvas!

Think of this like an art project.  First, consider what you want your board to look like.  What foods do you want to include and how can you group complementary foods together?  Is there a certain visual design you are looking for or a particular food (or foods) you want to highlight?  Will the board be just an appetizer or will it be the main focus of the meal people will be enjoying?


The Board...

Of course, you can buy specific charcuterie boards, but you can also make use of whatever you have in your kitchen, including large serving plates, platters or trays.

Wood, marble or slate boards work great, or you can simply use a wood cutting board.

It is also useful to use a few small bowls, along with some small spoons, forks and knives to help your guests transfer the food from the board to their individual plates.




The Food...

For the foods to include on your board, the possibilities are endless to create the perfect blend of flavors and textures.  Keep in mind, this is an excellent opportunity to highlight in-season ingredients!  Here are some ideas to provide a little inspiration:

  • Meats.  If you want to include meats on your board, opt for natural and less processed options.  Look at the ingredients and you can typically find some decent options, including ones that are nitrate free.  You could also include thinly sliced pieces of meat such as the Cacao Spiced Pork Tenderloin, Jamaican Jerk Pork Tenderloin, Citrus Grilled Chicken, or include some seafood like smoked salmon.
  • Cheese.  Consider including a couple of different hard and soft cheeses, including seasonal cheeses (fall varieties often include those with cranberries, nutmeg or other fall flavors).  There are also some good plant-based non-dairy options (like Treeline cheeses)…just remember to read those ingredients labels!
  • Veggies.  Use a variety of raw veggies such as radishes, triangular sliced bell peppers, sugar snap peas, carrot chips, kohlrabi sticks and sliced cucumber.  (How they are sliced makes a difference!)  Especially if you are serving dips, veggies provide a convenient way to get the dip from the bowl to your mouth!  Flavor-loaded pickled veggies are also a fantastic option and pair well with toasted bread, a cheese slice and a little whole grain mustard.
  • Fresh fruit.  Focus on in-season fruits...this time of year, some good options include apples, pears, grapes and pomegranate seeds.  If possible, try to pair fruits and cheeses that complement one another (sweet apples like Braeburn and Honeycrisp go well with brie cheese; pears are delicious with blue cheese and gouda).  Kiwi is also a great choice to add more color to your display.  Remember, it's best to slice your fruit (or put pomegranates in a bowl with a small spoon) so your guests can easily transfer food to their plates.
  • Dried fruit.  Dates, figs, cranberries and apricots are all perfect options.  These dried fruits add amazing texture and a little sweetness to your board.  Recently, I introduced a friend to pairing sliced dates with cheese and a cracker and she lost her mind!  She said, "this is amazing...I had no idea that I like dates!"
  • Nuts and seeds.  A variety of raw or roasted nuts and seeds can be strategically placed around your board, and you can also consider taking it up a notch with sweet and slightly spicy Spiced Mixed Nuts, the Birdseed Snack Mix or the Addictive Spicy Pecans.  Another fun addition would be a small bowl of the Apple Pie Granola or the Pumpkin Spice Granola.
  • Dips, condiments and sauces.  Everyone seems to love sauces and dips and, depending on your other ingredients, condiments really can help pull everything together.  For example, a little honey can be the perfect complement to a slice of toasted baguette, brie cheese and apple slice.  Your condiments can be as simple as your favorite stone ground mustard or a good quality jam, and then in the fall and for holiday get-togethers, some excellent dips include the Thai-Inspired Autumn Hummus, Roasted Beet Hummus, Christmas Cranberry Salsa and the Acorn Squash & Caramelized Onion Dip.  And, how fun would it be to include the Date Caramel Apple Dip alongside some sliced apples and pears?!
  • Crackers or bread.  Whole grain crackers like Norwegian Crisp Breads (loaded with a variety of whole grains and seeds), pita chips, or sliced bread (ideally, a good crusty bread) provide the perfect base for guests to load up all those delicious ingredients!
  • Other impressive additions.  A variety of olives, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes hearts, and roasted chickpeas would be tasty unexpected extras to add to your charcuterie board.  Have you ever roasted garlic and spread it on toasted bread?  This would be a memorable addition as well!
  • Fresh herbs.  A few options could be basil, oregano, sage, and microgreens.  Fresh herbs always provide a nice finishing touch.
  • Popcorn.  A small bowl of the Dark Chocolate Drizzled Popcorn or Fiesta Spiced Popcorn would be a creative addition alongside your board.
  • Sweeten it up!  Take advantage of dark chocolate and add a little sweetness, or include a small bowl of dessert hummus like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough or Snickerdoodle Cookie or add a few pieces of dark chocolate bark.  You could also offer up pre-portioned "shooter" desserts like Coconut Cream Tiramisu or Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding.


A few more tips:


  • Incorporating a variety of colors and layering ingredients will help you create a beautiful and visually appealing charcuterie board.
  • Give a little thought to the layout of the board when it comes to flavors and textures that complement one another.  For example, you probably don't want to put the mustard next to sliced kiwi.  However, placing the mustard next to some sliced pork tenderloin, toasted bread and pickles is an excellent pairing.
  • A glass of wine can add even more complementary flavor!  The best wine to serve depends on the other ingredients on your board.  Light to medium bodied red wines (like Cabernet Franc or Pinot Noir) are good options.  White wines work well if you have smoky or spicy flavors, and sparkling wines work great because they are often lower in alcohol and higher in acidity.
  • Let your creativity be your guide and have fun!  There is no right or wrong way to put together an amazing charcuterie board.  Let your imagination run wild!


Are you a charcuterie board master?


Have you attempted your own traditional or non-traditional board?


Please share with us!


What was your favorite combination of ingredients?





Leave A Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *