Whether you’re entertaining friends or spending a quiet night in, this no-cheese cheese plate is the perfect thing to serve.
There’s something about picking at pre-dinner snacks around the picnic table during a get together with friends that makes summer barbecues the best. These are the moments filled with conversation; when you can sip a few sips, nibble at little bites, and really chat with the people you love. When supper arrives, the meal becomes the main focus, sometimes taking away from the lovely moments of intimacy h’ordeuvres can bring.
I’ve always been a huge fan of cheese plates. Anytime I’m entertaining, I love to set one up for people to munch and create fun combinations of stackable crostinis. You know, a layer of cheese, a layer of spread… some nuts. It’s the best way to keep my guests’ tummy satisfied until dinner, and a smooth conversation going.
Lately, I’ve been brainstorming up a remix on my typical cheese plate. I wanted this plate to be funky, creative, and refreshing for the warm summer months.
First off, I thought of something I could use to mimic the use of a crostini. The backbone to the bite; something substantial, structural, and sweet. I’m currently vacationing down South, and chose some fresh Georgia peaches from the farmers’ market as my base.
I wanted the peaches to be firm enough that if I pressed my thumb against the skin just a bit, a divot would develop. They added a thick, sweet, and fresh start to my “crostini”. I decided to char them up and make them black and crispy by tossing them on a hot charcoal grill; adding heat, flavor, and texture to the plate.
To balance out the smoky peaches, I gathered three different “meats” for the stack. I wanted the next step to be colorful, tangy, and add some extra crunch to the plate. I love the taste of pickled veggies, but wanted to keep things a bit interesting. With a quick trip to the Asian market, I left with vibrant pickled ginger, daikon, and some fresh seaweed salad.
Next, I added some secondary options, ones that could be picked at individually from the table, or placed on the stacking bite. Pickled beets were one of these options, one that could be slivered and set aside for anyone who wanted a burst of rich taste and beautiful hues. Dicing some hot peppers was also a priority. Adding a little kick on the side is always a good thing.
I’ve always been a fan of crunchy bites of seeds, nuts, and salts. Typically for a cheese plate, I use almonds or pecans. For this, I chose raw crystal Hawaiian black sea salt, raw pepitas, raw hemp hearts, and raw chia seeds. All to be placed somewhere on the plate for toppings.
Finishing things off on a light note is key for me. I knew drizzling some raw honey over the stack kept would keep the sweet and savory theme going throughout each layer.
Once all of the shopping, chopping, and preparing was done, the layout of the dish was what would pull everything together. It’s always fun creating a new bite, and giving guests different options play around with their food. I wanted to keep everything separate, so people could pick and pull from individual elements of the plate, or pull everything together, as I did.
+ What are you biting into this summer? What finger foods are you serving up? Let me know in the comments!