Entertaining in a pre-pandemic world was intimidating enough. It’s more tempting than ever now to peel open a package of pre-sliced meats and cheeses, cut up an apple, fan out some crackers, and call it a day. But if you do get the chance to gather safely with friends and family, don’t take it for granted. Know that a thoughtful and exemplary spread for your guests is well within reach with the right approach. A grazing board can be a creative and satisfying team activity from conception to consumption, and there’s no occasion required! Here’s how to get started…
Like a cheese or charcuterie board, a grazing board is loaded with small bites designed to stimulate the eyes and appetite. They differ in that they tend to be more visually elaborate and feature a wider variety of complementary foods. In short, a grazing board should be a bold and beautiful display of variety and abundance; the cheese board 2.0.
The majority of us are not eating as many fresh fruits and vegetables recommended for a healthy lifestyle. While delicate slices of salty prosciutto and rich hunks of gooey brie have historically (and deliciously) taken center stage on a spread, we’re asking you to flip the script and highlight a healthy abundance of fruit and vegetables that will help satiate your guests’ hunger without leaving them full and bloated before the real meal begins. Allow for crisp spears of romaine and mini-cucumbers, sweet bursting cherry tomatoes, peppery arugula, and a slew of colorful and vibrant fruits to populate the majority of your board. It’s not only more delicious, but more dynamic and aesthetically striking. Everyone wins!
While various cured meats will never go out of style, I strongly encourage you to diversify your protein portfolio. Try regional specialties, fresh seafood, or plant-based meat alternatives for a deliciously eclectic experience. For our Hawaiian-inspired grazing board, we feature fresh salmon poke, high-quality tinned fish, and sliced Spam musubi, which offer a personality upgrade both in flavor and overall presentation. All of this alongside more traditional charcuterie!
They say variety is the spice of life and cheese is no exception. Often times specialty grocery stores will have a discount cheese section featuring miscellaneous samples. This is always my first stop as I can often find a wide range of different styles of cheese in more affordable quantities. Opt for a variety in texture, color, and maturity level for a diverse and eye catching selection that keeps the palate stimulated.
Snacks are an easy way to introduce a playful variety of textures and flavors and visually enhance your board. This is also a great opportunity to unload the various odds and ends of your pantry that would otherwise be discarded. Thankfully, this process was made easy with the help of Foodland’s extensively delicious Maika’i line. Their trail mix, various crackers and kachi mochi, wasabi peas, and coconut and plantain chips helped our board really pop with minimal effort. And no Hawaiian-inspired grazing board would be complete without some hurricane popcorn and spicy boiled peanuts.
A unique variety of condiments and pickles is the best way to encourage your guests to explore their creativity and build unique flavor combinations. Our current favorites include sardines and pickled ginger, musubi and cucumber kimchi, and herbed goat cheese with lilikoi jam. Thoughtful accompaniments can make each bite a culinary adventure and provide acidity and balance, which will help prevent Boursin burnout.
It sounds simple, but this is probably the most common oversight when constructing a community spread. Make sure any item that would require a serving utensil is accounted for and that plates, napkins, and cutlery are positioned strategically for a worry-free flow. A trash can nearby will encourage guests to clean as they go and allow you to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Grazing boards are a great icebreaker and centerpiece, a generous way to instantly make your guests feel appreciated and welcome. It’s a surefire way to bring a bit of festive joy to your next gathering. We encourage to use our fundamentals as a loose guide, but ultimately make your own rules as your grazing board should be just as fun to prepare as it is to eat!