How to Set Up a Cheese Board

It’s American Cheese Month and you don’t have to tell us twice to pull out a platter. It’s no surprise that cheeseboards have been growing in popularity throughout the past few years. We’ve seen some pretty exquisite cheese platters, but if you’ve never made one before, you might be wondering how to set up a cheese board. Here are our top five tips to building a cheese platter everyone will devour.

Here's How to set up a cheese board. Five tips to get you partying quick.

1.) Pick out at least 3 or 4 different styles of cheese.

The name of the game here is variety–both in the styles of cheese (a sharp cheddar versus mild goat cheese) and in their textures too (one you slice, the other kind of crumbles). If you take this approach to concocting your cheese platter, you’re on your way to creating an epic appetizer. A few of our favorite cheeses to pair with California Figs include

2.) Load the cheese platter with fresh fruits.

This is where crafting the perfect cheese plate gets particularly fun. Look for what fruits are in season and slice up juicy pears or crispy apples in autumn. When winter comes, slice up Fuyu persimmons and break open pomegranates, letting their jewel-toned seeds sparkle with juice. Perhaps supreme a few oranges too. Spring for cherries and strawberries. Summer on with juicy stone fruits of nectarines, peaches and all the berries. Heck, throw on fresh figs when they’re available in summer and early autumn too.

3.) Don’t forget the dried figs.

Dried fruits like apricots or cranberries can add a chewy element for another texture on a cheese board. But, almost every cheese board worth its muster includes figs and this is where our California dried figs particularly shine. You can keep them whole to eat in one bite. Or, slice them up to tile onto crackers with cheese slices or crumbles. Cook them down into a compote. Blitz them into a sweet and savory olive spread. Stuff them with cheese and sprinkle on chocolatey cacao nibs. Anyway you think about it, their seeds sparkle with crunch and their flesh is all earthy sweetness.

4. Pack on the crisps.

The idea here is a slice of bread or cracker can carry the cheese and condiments to your mouth without fuss. So, slice up a crusty baguette. Toast it into crostini.  We like several kinds of crackers on our cheese platters and are fond of these snappy rounds from 34 Degrees (the original are our go-to crackers, but the black pepper add a bit of heat that’s nice too). La Panzanella’s mini croccantini are flatbread crackers that are sturdy and crunchy, perfect for cheeses that are especially melty.

5. Go Nuts.

Pile on the nuts for extra texture and flavor to add to your build-a-bite cheese platter. Hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, and walnuts all win our vote. Feeling extra fancy? Glaze walnuts to add to the cheese board.

What are your favorite finds on a cheese board? Find more cheese board ideas by following us @valleyfig on Pinterest.

 

Photo by Jentry

Blue Cheese & Butternut Squash Fig Galette

If you’ve never made a galette before, this rustic butternut squash fig galette recipe has all the flavors of fall folded inside a flaky butter crust for a meatless dinner. Speaking of the all-butter galette dough, you can make it by hand or in a food processor (directions in parentheses). Roll the fig galette dough between two sheets of lightly floured parchment paper to make prep and clean-up easy. To save time, purchase prepared pie crust dough and roll or pat into a 12-inch circle. You can also streamline the squash prep by buying 12 ounces of ready-cut butternut squash and cutting it into ½-inch cubes.

Blue Cheese & Butternut Squash Fig Galette

Course Main Course

Ingredients

Galette Crust

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small bits (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon)
  • 6 tablespoons ice water (more as needed)

Butternut Squash Fig Galette Filling:

  • 1 cup Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) 1/2-inch cubed, peeled butternut or other winter squash
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage leaves (or 4 teaspoons dried)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons white wine, dry sherry, or orange juice
  • 1/2 cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup crumbled Blue cheese
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion

Instructions

Make Dough:

  1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl (or bowl of food processor). Whisk to blend well. (Cover processor and whirl to blend.) Cut in butter with pastry blender (or pulse in food processor) until butter is the size of peas. Stir in enough water to make a dough that keeps together and feels moist when squeezed with your hand (or add water and pulse in food processor). Turn dough out onto a lightly floured piece of parchment paper or work surface. Form dough into a ball; flatten to a disk. Wrap airtight and chill. Let soften at room temperature 30 minutes before rolling.

Make Filling:

  1. Stem Figs. Cut each into thin slices, then cut each slice lengthwise in half. Set Figs aside. Swirl olive oil into large nonstick skillet. Place over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until onion is soft and beginning to brown. Stir in squash. Sprinkle with ¾ teaspoon salt and black pepper, to taste. Stir in Figs, sage and wine. Cover and steam, adjusting heat as needed, for 12 minutes or until squash is fork-tender. If liquid remains, continue to cook, uncovered, until all liquid evaporates. Remove from heat and cool while rolling dough.

  2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Roll dough between two sheets of lightly floured parchment paper to a 12-inch circle. Slide bottom parchment sheet with dough onto an un-rimmed baking sheet.

  3. Stir Parmesan and ½ cup blue cheese into Fig mixture. Spread filling on tart dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Sprinkle remaining blue cheese and green onion on top. Fold up and pleat the border of dough around the filling. Bake for 25 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is hot.

  4. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into wedges.

Recipe and photo by Lorelle del Matto