Who doesn’t love a big platter of snacks? Everyone loves it and I’ll tell you why. From hard-core carnivores to vegans to whatever the fad diet of the month is, there is something for everyone on ‘The Big Platter.” I consider it a cheese board, charcuterie and antipasto platter all in one.
Now, everyone thinks of using this as an appetizer and that is how I almost always use it too. But why? Everyone LOVES it and usually stuffs his or her face. By the time you are supposed to have the actual meal, no one is hungry. SO… why not make the big platter the meal?
We had a big platter for dinner the other night and everyone was thrilled! I mean, the girls (especially A, my picky eater) were so excited that they got to choose what they had for dinner. They never get to choose their own dinner. It was like Christmas.
No two platters will ever be the same. I’ve never had a platter before that looked like the platter I’m about to show you. Some components never change but it’s always fun to add something new. I will show you what I did and give you some general platter guidelines.
The number one thing people will serve is cheese. How many cheeses and what type depends on the size platter you are preparing and your taste preferences. But here are some things to think about. Have a variety. Don’t get all soft cheeses or all hard cheeses; have one of each and maybe one semi-soft. Mix up the type: cow’s milk, goat’s milk and/or sheep’s milk. Make the cheeses easy to access- points facing out, not in. Don’t make me dig my piece of cheese out of the middle of the board. And a personal preference that I will try and force on you- please never use cubed cheese. I don’t know what it is but I really just don’t like it. At all. Stay away from the cubed cheese.
On this particular board I had brie, goat cheese, drunken goat cheese and Sartori Raspberry Tart Bellavitano. (That last one… they were giving out samples at Whole Foods one day and it changed my life. What it has to do with raspberries I have no idea but it is delicious!)
We will ALWAYS have some form of Italian meat snack on our platter. It is almost always salami. Volpi Genoa Salami to be exact. But, if we don’t have salami we will have prosciutto. This time I went the extra, extra mile and added capocolla as well.
I usually have one or maybe two kinds of fruit. Everyone goes for grapes. Grapes are delicious but let’s think outside the box. Since I had prosciutto I added some cantaloupe. I do not care for cantaloupe so I never buy it. But, everyone else in my family loves it so I was selfless and bought some cantaloupe. I left some plain slices on the board (for my kids) and wrapped some in prosciutto (since, to me, cantaloupe is only edible when wrapped in meat) . If you don’t like cantaloupe either, prosciutto is delicious with pears! Another fruit I love to add to a big platter: honeycrisp apples. Slice them and toss them with a little lemon juice so they don’t brown.
I like to add dried fruit to the platter too. I always have dried apricots on hand. Like… always. They are on every platter I make. So imagine my surprise when I opened my pantry and we were out of dried apricots. No problem because I had dried figs in my pantry. I don’t always have those but I might start keeping them as a staple from now on. I can’t get enough of them. Plus, they seem fancy don’t they?
Dried apricots and pistachios are a fabulous combination. Shelled pistachios are my nut of choice when throwing together a platter. Who want’s all that mess that comes with people shelling their own nuts? No thank you. However, since I was out of apricots I went with almonds instead. They paired great with everything.
Olives. One must have olives on a large platter. Since my sister introduced me to castelvetrano olives about 7 years ago I have never looked back. They are THE BEST olive, period.
On this platter I added tomatoes. I was trying to have enough for everyone to have a few things they liked and get a good assortment of healthy options.
A few things didn’t fit on “the big platter.” I couldn’t fit the bread on the board so it had to go on the side. It’s a shame everything couldn’t be on one board. It makes me so happy when that happens but I just had too much stuff. So, I put two types of crackers in a little tray and two types of bread in a bread basket. I made one of the breads and toasted it. The other was baked by a neighborhood kid. (He is raising money all summer for juvenile diabetes by selling bread! How cool is that!!) You can slice up a store bought baguette and call it a day.
Just a few more tips:
1. Put everything in big piles. All the prosciutto here, all the apples here, etc.
2. I put things that could roll around in little bowls in the center. That way, no one has to reach around a bowl hovering at the edge with fear of knocking it over.
3. Serve with a great bottle of wine. Any flavor will do red, white and rosé all go with the big platter!
And finally, here is a list of options to help you mix and match and create your own platter of any size:
Cheese: Brie, Goat Cheese, Drunken Goat Cheese, Garlic & Herb Boursin, Manchego, Aged Cheddar, Blue Cheese
Meat: Salami, Prosciutto, Pepperoni, Mortadella, Capocolla, Braunschweiger, Summer Sausage, Smoked Oysters
Fruit: Apples, Pears, Grapes, Figs, Cantaloupe, Dried Apricots, Dried Figs
Nuts: Pistachios, Almonds, Cashews, Walnuts
Brined/Pickled/Marinated: Olives, Cornichons, Artichoke Hearts, Roasted Red Peppers, Pepperoncini
Spreads: Pesto, Fig Jam, Marinara Sauce, Tapenade, Romesco, Dijon Mustard
Carbs: Crackers, Bread, Toast
Platter On My Friends!