How to Assemble a Bountiful Fall Harvest Board

How to Assemble a Bountiful Fall Harvest Board

Call it what you will — a charcuterie board, a cheese plate, an antipasto platter, a grazing table — there's not much that company loves more than a bountiful spread of small bites. With gathering season (safely) upon us, we're ready to reconnect with friends and family over warm smiles, laughter, good wine, and plenty of food. That's right: it's time to get your snack on!

Assembling a beautiful and delicious seasonal harvest board is more art than science. A few tricks to guide the way:

  • Eat with your eyes. For an appetizing display, load up on ingredients in a rainbow of colours — and be sure to serve it all up with your prettiest utensils.
  • Let the season guide you. In Canada, Thanksgiving roughly coincides with the completion of the fall harvest following the spring and summer growing seasons, which was traditionally celebrated with an abundant feast. When planning the menu for your holiday gatherings, stick to the script and seek out in-season fruits, vegetables, and other flavours that are at their peak.
  • Arrange from the inside out. Start by placing a small dish as a focal point in the centre (or slightly off-centre) of your serving board. Then, work your way outwards to fill in the rest, clustering ingredients together in loose piles.
  • It's all about balance. Along with balancing colours, be sure to balance a range of flavours and textures for a well-rounded spread. In the guide that follows, we've broken down some key taste and textural elements we like to include on any grazing board — whether served as a cocktail hour appetizer in lead up to the main event, or as a light, snacky meal in and of itself.

 

The Elements of a Seasonal Grazing Board

 

Fresh • Creamy • Tangy • Salty & Savoury • Juicy • Crunchy

BUILD YOUR OWN:

HOW TO ASSEMBLE A BOUNTIFUL HARVEST BOARD

Get Prepped: Choose Your Serveware

Scale your board to the size your gathering — and the size of their appetites. Here, we used our Round Charcuterie Board in Medium, which is just under 20-inches in diameter. For a small group gathering, this size of board gives a good amount of space to spread out all your ingredients, while looking nice and full. (If you're planning a grazing-only meal or are serving snacks for a crowd of more than three to four people, we recommend sizing up to either the Round Charcuterie Board in Large, or the Rectangular Charcuterie Board.)

Element #1: Fresh – Colourful Veggies

Upgrade your crudité with long, skinny, eat-with-your-fingers-friendly veggies such as baby rainbow carrots (simply slice thicker ones in half lengthwise), or blanched and chilled green beens. Scoop store-bought hummus into a pretty little dish for dipping.

Element #2: Creamy – Aged & Soft Cheeses

To prevent cheeses from drying out too quickly, place wedges or blocks on your board whole, with a cheese knife next to them for guests to slice themselves. If you like, accompany hard, aged cheeses with a small dish of jam, jelly or honey for a sweet hit.

For a plant-based alternative, look for vegan cheeses made from nuts such as cashews; these tend to have a soft, spreadable texture, so make sure to have a spreading knife and plenty of crackers close by!

Element #3: Tangy – Olives & Antipasto

Put wet or oily foods — like olives, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichokes and pickled vegetables — into their own small dishes, and nestle them in amongst the rest. (This is also a good way to contain foods that are prone to rolling or sliding around, like a fan of flatbread crackers or small, round berries or nuts.)

Element #4: Salty & Savoury – Cured Meats

Dry cured deli meats are where charcuterie gets its name. Fold round slices of meat — such as bresaola or salami — in quarters to create little ruffled "roses;" Roll meats like prosciutto, which are sliced into long, thin pieces, into soft tubes. A two-pronged serving fork is the ideal serving utensil for picking up flimsy slices. (The one in this set is perfect for this.)

For alternative protein options, think outside the deli case to include things such as smoked fish, candied salmon or poached shrimp, or go vegan with smoked mushroom jerky or roasted spiced chickpeas.

Element #5: Juicy – Ripe Fruits

Grapes are a go-to cheese board accompaniment year-round, as are pears and fresh figs. To stay on theme for fall, stick to fruit varieties that are in-season locally. This time of year, that could mean adding stone fruits like plums, apricots or nectarines, or even sliced apples. And don't forget about dried cranberries, dates and raisins.

Element #6: Crunchy – Crackers & Nuts

No board is complete without an added crunch factor! Crackers are a must to stack up little bites with a slice of cheese or meat. Along with the usual crostini and seeded flatbread crackers, offer gluten-free options like rice crackers or nut-based crackers. (If any of your guests have an allergy or intolerance, put these options aside on a separate plate or bowl.)

Finishing Touches: Garnish & Utensils

For extra-fragrant credit, toss a few sprigs of fresh, aromatic herbs — like thyme or rosemary — on as a finishing garnish. Since serving utensils will feature prominently on the board, we like to reach for our fanciest cheese knives, charcuterie forks and little spoons as a decorative addition to the finished platter.


SHOP SEASONAL SERVEWARE & GRAZING TABLE ESSENTIALS



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