It’s no doubt that people have noticed that grazing tables have become wildly popular – the gorgeous imagery sprinkled in social feeds is hard to miss. With beautiful spreads of tightly arranged bite-sized finger foods, these tables have become a go-to for the hostess and host who wants to impress their guests.
However, it lends the question – what sets a charcuterie platter apart from a grazing table?
The main difference is the arrangement of food on a grazing table is considered edible art! You choose the tools, how to assemble the food and what, if anything, is missing such as the herb garnishes. If this feels a little intimidating, don’t worry. Read on for the Go-To Guide for Creating An Epic Grazing Table.
What to Include
Textures are key, so include them all: the crunchy, the creamy, the chewy and the spreadable. Including a variety of textures gives your guests options to choose from and pleases all preferences.
- Crunchy: Salted almonds, cashews, crackers, roasted pumpkin seeds, candied walnuts, breadsticks, apple slices, toasted baguette
- Creamy: Olives, Président® Brie, goat cheese
- Chewy: Dried fruit such as apricots, apples, pears, mango, cranberries, Président® Manchego and meats such as prosciutto, chorizo, jamón, pepperoni, soppressata, salami
- Spreadable: Cheese spreads , fig preserves, grainy mustard, honey, apple chutney, raspberry jam, hot pepper jelly
Don’t think that everything on your grazing table needs to be chilled or room temperature. Nothing will welcome in the masses more than a fresh-from-the-oven round of warmed camembert, a dish of bubbling fondue, or a log of goat cheese covered in piping hot marinara. In order to please all your guests, the grazing table should always include the 5 basic tastes for a well-rounded spread:
- Salty: cured meats, salted nuts, olives, marinated artichoke hearts
- Sweet: jams or jellies, dried fruit, honey, fresh fruit, candied nuts
- Bitter: radishes, kale chips, endive leaves (doubles as a flavor vehicle!)
- Sour: pickled vegetables, fresh citrus wedges, balsamic glaze
- Umami: roasted mushrooms, cheeses such as Président® Comté, Emmental and Le Blue, roasted garlic
Serving Your Grazing Table
When you’re serving your grazing table, don’t think that everything needs to be chilled or at room temperature. Welcome your guests with a fresh-from-the-oven round of warmed Président® Camembert, a dish of bubbling chocolate fondue or a log of Président® goat cheese covered in piping hot marinara for a little variety.
Your table should always include the five basic tastes for a well-rounded and crowd-pleasing spread:
- Salty: Cured meats, salted nuts, olives, marinated artichoke hearts
- Sweet: Jams or jellies, dried fruit, honey, fresh fruit, candied nuts
- Bitter: Radishes, kale chips, endive leaves (doubles as a flavor vehicle)
- Sour: Pickled vegetables, fresh citrus wedges, balsamic glaze
- Umami: Roasted mushrooms, cheeses such as Président® Comté, Emmental, roasted garlic
How Much To Serve?
When deciding on how big your grazing table should be, consider what the occasion is and how much of a meal you want this to be. For example, is this just a snack to curb pre-holiday dinner hunger pangs? Keep it light, simple and minimal. But if you’re having friends over for cocktails and game night? Go big, since this will likely be the yummy main fare.
When it comes to cheese, you can opt for 3-5 types and scale the amount served to fit your occasion. Anything beyond that will get overwhelming. Then simply fill your table with what your group enjoys most, per the lists above. Feeding a group of carnivores? Fill it up with cured meats. Have a group of lighter eaters? Add plenty of fresh veggies that can double as a flavor vehicle (celery sticks, thick slices of carrots, bell pepper wedges, Belgian Endive, etc.).
Putting Your Grazing Table Together
Putting together your grazing table shouldn’t elicit feelings of fear, anxiety or shame. It’s a relatively simple strategy that involves a few steps. Grab a large platter, cutting board or sheet of food-safe paper. Here we go!
- Start With The Cheese
- After all, cheese is the focal point of your grazing table! The Président® brand carries a wide variety of delicious, quality cheese options that will appeal to all tastes. Arrange cheeses around or near the corners of your table. Try to have one cheese go all the way to the edge (like Président® Cheese), and plan for other ingredients to tuck into another corner, creating a perimeter around the cheese.
- Get creative: create interesting lines by placing a log of Président® Goat cheese diagonally across the platter instead of parallel to the sides. All the other ingredients will be tucked in as you go and fill the table in.
- Add The Bowls
- Time to place any bowls for spreads or items needing a vessel (i.e. marinated artichokes in oil). The key is to use small enough dishes, so you don’t take up too much space on the table. This obviously will also be determined by the size of your table: the larger the table, the bigger the bowls.
- Place likely pairings nearby one another like the pictures here with the roasted grapes, honey, and Président® Brie, or the Président® Feta Marinated Cubes, artichoke hearts and olives.
- Time To Fill
- Depending on which ingredients you selected as part of your table, start first with those that will take up the most space. Most times, this will be any cured meat. Pro Tip: Roll or fold any pieces of meat so they’re easy to grab!
- As with the bowls, place these ingredients near cheeses or other items that pair well with one another. Be sure to evenly disperse like ingredients across the platter! You want guests to get a little bit of everything, regardless of which side of the platter they’re on.
- Don’t be worried about layering or things overlapping. It’s perfectly fine if your bunch of grapes covers part of the calabrese.
- The Finishing Touches
- Almost there! Time to add the last few things to make this table shine. Take stock of your ingredients. Did you forget anything? Is there anything you could add more of?
- Now, take a step back and admire your hard work. Too much white in one corner? Are all your meats on one side of the platter? Make adjustments.
- Fill in small open spaces with crackers, nuts or dried fruit. Use every bit of open space – again, the goal is to create fullness.
- Herbs! Your last finishing touch should be fresh herbs. Nuzzle rosemary into corners, tuck thyme alongside cured meats, sprinkle chopped mint on top of feta. Get creative! This adds brightness and freshness to your already beautiful table.
The thing to remember is that food is what brings us all together. What was the last gathering you attended? We bet food played an integral role in the celebration, fun and socialization with your friends and family. Food should be fun. Let’s keep it that way!
Jamie is the voice, author, and creator of the food and lifestyle blog, So Happy You Liked It. Focused on balance, her website provides helpful tips, nutritious recipes (with the occasional indulgence), and an authentic inflection in her writing. When not creating in the kitchen, you can find her teaching cycling, entertaining, or planning her next adventure.