Being able to throw together a solid cheese plate in a short amount of time is one of the keys to adulting. It’s also key to making a night at home feel like a special occasion, even when you’re short on energy and the budget is tight. Sure, you could eat the cheese on crackers pulled straight from the box while standing in the kitchen mindlessly trolling Facebook, but why not take five minutes to make the whole cheese and carbs thing a little more special?
In my experience, the secret to making a great cheese plate is variety: contrasting flavors and textures make all the difference! So, let’s talk cheese. I like to think that there are four main categories of cheese: soft, hard, stinky, and the wildcard. Other folks may use stuffier categories, but this is what works for me! When picking cheese, I try to select only one from each category. For example, I might pick a brie (a classic, soft cheese that deserves a place on any cheese board), Manchego (hard), Gorgonzola (stinky), and smoked Gouda (wildcard).
Good news. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make a good cheese plate–with just one nice cheese and some inexpensive accouterments, you can create an impressive spread for less than ten buckaroos.
For this simple cheese plate, I picked a rich and creamy goat milk brie ($2.79 at Trader Joe’s), gluten free rice crackers ($2.50 per box), a handle of almonds I had on hand ($FREE), and several goodnessknows snack squares (half a box = $2.50). That’s a fancy, filling cheese plate for less than $8! As an added bonus, this combination is totally gluten free.
Sure they call it a “cheese plate” but I think it’s really all the OTHER stuff that makes a cheese plate shine. Rather than spending tons of money at the grocery store, take a look in your pantry and your fridge, and pull out anything and everything that looks good for nibbling. Pickles of any variety, dried fruit, chocolate, honey, fruit preserves, mustard, nuts, cured meats, fresh bread, crostini, croutons… I realize this sounds like a big hodgepodge, but, assuming you only keep things on hand that you actually enjoy eating, I don’t think you can go wrong! One of my favorite stumbled-upon combinations, for example, is goat cheese Gouda + dill pickles + stadium mustard. THE BEST. The odds-and-ends plate is where it’s at.