Ah the grazing board; the perfect appetizer for a party! And, just in time for this week’s special occasion, we have an awesome recipe for sweet cranberry and maple jam that will thrill your guests this Canada Day!
More than just a cheese board, the grazing board is a variety of little bits and bites that look so delicious, you don’t know what to snack on first!
Putting together a grazing board may seem like a no-brainer: just toss some fruits, veggies, cheeses, and crackers on a board and voila! Not so dear friends. While grazing boards are the essence of easy entertaining, it takes a little thought and strategy to build one that will really wow your guests.
Here are 5 tips to make an amazing vegetarian grazing board!
5 Tips to make a vegetarian grazing board
As you know an ideal grazing board has a good balance of flavours and textures and has items that contrast and complement each other. Here are some tips for making pairings and choosing ideal options for your grazing board:
Choose a platter and bowls for dips
So, you want to start this off but you realize that you don’t own a giant wood board to serve everything on? Don’t you worry! There few tricks that can help you make an awesome presentation:
You can use a charcoal-coloured or all-white dinner or charger plate (ideally larger than 10”). Round or square shapes work best.
You can also place 2 regular sized wood cutting boards side-by-side to create the illusion of a larger board.
For little condiment or antipasti bowls, find decorative measuring cups, ramekins or other small bowls in your kitchen cabinets. Having different shapes and sizes can definitely enhance the design of your board.
Pro tip: Using parchment/baking paper on top of your boards make it easier for you to clean after and can add a nice texture.
Prepare your shopping list in advance
Once you’ve found your inspiration and a theme for your grazing board, it’s time to go shopping! Make sure you list the number of people you are expecting for your party so you can buy appropriate portions of each of your ingredient and ask your guests if they have any intolerance or allergies so you plan ahead.
Start with some quality cheese
Work with 50g of each type of cheese per person with a selection of two or three varieties of cheese. Variety is key when selecting cheese. Try choose a type of cow, goat, and sheep’s milk cheeses. Typically, one soft (like brie or camembert), one hard (cheddar, manchego), one aged (gouda, aged cheddar) and something funky like blue cheese or feta cheese that is bold and can stand out on its own.
Feta cheese is not often a cheese that you will find on the typical grazing board. Impress your guest by matching your brie with a homemade whipped feta recipe that you can create with ILIOS feta cheese.
Pro tip: always leave your Brie on the counter for at least an hour before serving. You can be sure that by doing this your cheese has time to soften and is easier to spread when everyone is ready to eat.
Embellish your board with fresh and dried fruits and fresh and marinated veggies.
You can get creative on this aspect and add what you love to surprise your guests with fancy elements. ILIOS has a great selection of marinated vegetables to choose from to add a special “je ne sais quoi” to your board.
One thing to keep in mind though is to make sure that you pick seedless olives or grapes so there is no bad surprise.
Do not forget to add your crackers, biscuits, breads and dipping sauces
Just like a selection of cheeses, a selection of different crackers is important too.
A variety of crackers makes sure your guests have choices for the different dipping sauce, cheeses and other ingredients you add to your board. You will like the selection of ILIOS crackers and bread sticks because they have great texture and come in a variety of flavors that compliment almost any cheese and dipping sauce. Particularly the olive crackers that you can use with your favorite dips like ILIOS Artichoke Bruschetta. Yummy!
As promised, check out this special jam recipe for your special Canada Day vegetarian grazing board. We are sure you and your guests will love it!
sweet cranberry and maple jam
• 1 tbsp butter
• 2 onions, chopped
• 2 1/2 oz of whiskey-based maple-flavoured alcohol
• 3/4 cup maple syrup
• 3 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries
• 2 stalks of fresh thyme
• Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Heat your pan on high, add butter and let melt, reduce to medium heat and add the onions. Cook for 10 minutes.
2. Add the maple alcohol and cook for 2 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove the juices.
3. Pour in the maple syrup and bring to a boil. Add the cranberries and thyme, then season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring a few times.
4. Serve this cold or warm jam with your favorite cheeses (it goes GREAT with ILIOS brie).