The saviour of dinner parties.
It’s the weekend and you’re having loved ones over for a bit of a get-together, a dinner party perhaps. You’re racking your brains to serving up something more than a box of Jatz, bags of chips and the same old guacamole dip for pre-meal nibbles. “It’s all too hard!” you think, as you dread having to toil away in the kitchen after having had a long week at work. But before you start gravitating towards the ol’ cracker and dip aisle, we have an alternative that is guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser.
Hail the grazing platter; brimming with fresh quality seasonal produce, delectable shaved meats, opulent fruits, it is the perfect combination of a little bit of everything. It makes it easier for the host too as you can prep everything before everyone arrives. And when they do arrive, all you need to do is to pop the champagne, uncork the wine and enjoy yourself. Goodbye to sweating and stressing in the kitchen whilst missing out on all the fun! There isn’t a better way to get loved ones together and bonding over a platter of amazing food.
And hold up, the best news about grazing platters is that you don’t have to be a food maven or spend a lot to put one together! Read on for my top 5 tips to creating a delightful, and delectable grazing platter.
A little prep goes a long way. Have a think about the size of the board you’re wanting to fill, as this will guide you on the ingredients and produce you’d want to use. We have a collection of gorgeous wooden boards that’ll fit the perfect bill. List all the ingredients so you don’t miss a thing. Fresh produce like veggie sticks are best cut up on the day and kept in containers with a little water to keep them juicy and fresh.
2. Fresh produce matters
The freshness of ingredients can make or break a great grazing platter. Buy in-season produce, fresh from a farmer’s market, deli or a fresh fruit and veggies market on the day or morning prior. Avoid pre-packaged meats such as prosciutto or salami. Ask for meats to be sliced as thinly as possible so they are easier to position and look tidier on your platter.
Dips are a wonderful addition to your grazing platter for colour and texture, but move away from the usual suspects. Mix up colours and flavours. Don’t be afraid to use something a little different. Beetroot, pumpkin, basil and cashew, or a caramelised onion dip add a plethora of colour and texture. For an irresistable rainbow of tastiness, serve dips into colourful containers placed throughout the grazing platter for accessibility.
4. Cheese and crackers
Cheeses are fussy with temperature, it’s recommended to take cheeses out at least an hour before serving to allow it to come to room temperature. Lay a damp tea towel over the cheese for 2-3 hours to minimise drying out. Provide a variety of crackers, crispbread, or breadsticks to accompany your different cheeses.
Image courtesy of Daniela Kempe Photography
5. Consider seasons and the time of day
Grazing platters don’t have to be reserved just for warmer days, they are a great option all year-round. In the cooler seasons, load up on the heartier food groups such as cheeses and meats. Go with more fresh fruit and veggies on a sweltering Summer’s day. Cut back on cheeses and meats that can sweat in heat, and feel heavy.
We eat with our eyes, so a gorgeously appetising arrangement works wonders. Start with larger foods such as meats, cheeses and fruits. Release that inner creativity, don’t be afraid to play with the assortment of shapes and sizes. For example, different cheeses can be arranged in a wedge, or in a circular block. Cold cuts can be rolled, fruits cut into different shapes, and veggies sliced at an angle to add visual appeal.
Balance the look of your platter by spreading ingredients around. This helps your guests access the variety of food from where they are. Don’t leave any gaps by piling your ingredients instead of spacing them out. Use lots of chopped veggies as ‘fillers’, and sprinkle smaller ingredients such as nuts and berries.
Once all of that is done, sit back, pop that champagne or uncork that bottle of wine and let the festivities begin!
Before you go, don’t forget to download our free step-by-step dinner party planning checklist that you could print out and check things off as you go. Also included is a list of useful resources to inspire you with recipes and ideas for decor. How awesome is that? Simply sign up for our newsletter below and say ‘Yes!’ to stress-free dinner parties!