Grazing boards are very in right now, and for good reason – they look impressive and generous, but come with a relaxed vibe – exactly what party food should be.
However, don’t be taken in by those glamorous grazing boards you see posted across Instagram. Those huge boards are packed completely full of anything and everything, with nary a scrap of the wooden board below to be seen. Image search “grazing board” and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.
Not only do I not want to make (or buy) a million different foods to go on this board, I don’t want to eat that huge number of different things. Even worse, I don’t want to feel as though I can’t try everything. A well-done grazing board should be thoughtfully curated and presented in a way that makes it enjoyable to graze through. Here’s how.
Pick a Theme
Rather than packing on anything and everything, choose a small number of foods that go together, and provide lots of it. Some suggestions…
Tour around Spain with chorizo, hummus, pita chips, olives, roasted peppers and marinaded feta
Think après-ski with a bubbly baked Camembert, crispy potato wedges, mini gherkins and bitter red chicory leaves
Get festive with sausage rolls, spiced nuts, a big wedge of Stilton and some water crackers
Go for a summery Italian vibe with prosciutto wrapped asparagus, a pot of olive oil and vinegar, cubed ciabatta, a pile of olives and some ripe melon
Cosy up with a slab of silky pâté with caramelised onion chutney, crisp toasts and gherkins
The suggestions above would all be perfectly suitable for 4 – 8 people as an afternoon graze, appetisers before a meal, or for a casual cocktail evening, quantities adjusted for numbers.
Contrary to popular belief, grazing boards do not need to be packed so full you can’t see any of the board. A tightly packed grazing board means you can’t slice a wedge off the cheese without knocking over a pile of crackers, not to mention touching a load of the other food. Leave enough space so the food can be sliced or accessed. Provided the quantities are generous – we’re talking big hunks, tall stacks – the board won’t look empty, I promise.
Presentation really matters, here, but that’s not to say it needs to be complicated. The whole point is it’s meant to be rustic and casual, so start by creating piles of things at various areas on the board. Put things together that are meant to be eaten together; you’re giving instructions by way of proximity. Artfully smear out chutney, hummus or mustard by spooning it out into a pile, then use the back of the spoon to drag it in one direction across. Use a tall glass to display breadsticks, parsnip crisps or cheese straws to add a bit of height. Keep going with the piles, lines, stacks and bundles until you’ve placed everything.
Once you’ve curated your grazing board, the only remaining task is to uncork your favourite bottle, relax, and slowly enjoy.