Late Summer in Italy Cheese Board

Get your appetizer game on! Pour the wine! It's time for some snacks.

Really, is there anything better than a cheese board to feed a crowd? I love entertaining this way because it's so casual and intimate. I think people enjoy the interactive nature of being able to create their own combinations and discuss the different elements on the board.

In addition, I like that a cheese board like this allows everyone to choose what they wish. People can avoid things they're less fond of, and put together a plate that's right for their body and their palate.

This cheese board is inspired by time Dave and I spent in Italy. We often had dinners like this that involved grazing on all the amazing produce, cheese, and bread we had acquired in our travels each day. We spent many lovely evenings sitting on our patio in the sun, sipping wine, and eating off a shared board like this.

This board specifically pays homage to late summer in Italy, with flavors that are slightly deeper and more complex. It celebrates two types of lesser-known aged Italian cheese that straddle the line between fresh summer cheeses like mozzarella and intense heavy-hitters like parmesan. The produce is decidedly later-season, calling to mind those last beautiful sunny days before fall.

Of course you can take this idea and run with it however you like. Here's what I did:

- Heirloom tomatoes. Because it's Italy!
- Zucchini. Cut into thin spears.
- Endive. The bitterness of endive is perfect for the end of summer.
- Eggplant. I grilled baby eggplant halves (and salted them well!) to bring some deeper flavors to the board.
- Few sprigs of basil. Because we haven't completely forgotten summer yet!

- Peaches. A mid/late summer star in many countries, including Italy.
- Fresh figs. My all-time favorite, and so gorgeous on a board like this. Their deep color and flavor pairs so nicely with fall nuts.

- Marcona almonds. Such an incredible treat. We've eaten millions of them in Spain (they're Spanish) but also Italy. They taste like butter.
- Pistachios. Another nut we ate frequently in Italy.

- Small nut/seed loaf cut into thin slices. My experiences in Italy have included a lot more bread than crackers, so I felt like bread was the more appropriate choice here. But I went with a super-dense, nutty, seedy loaf to bring to mind fall flavors.

- Ricotta Salata. Oh how I love this cheese. It's an aged ricotta and is heaven. It has all the best qualities of ricotta, but is dense and delightfully salty. I think it's perfect for late summer, when a fresh cheese doesn't feel quite appropriate anymore.
- Piave. Reminiscent of parmesan, but younger and slightly gentler. It has that same lovely bite, but in a way that works nicely with fresh fruits and veggies.

- Homemade mustard. I'll admit this ends up on most of my boards. It's a flavor power-house. Get all the details about making your own here! It provides a nice bite that complements the sweet fruit and rich cheese.
- Fig jam. Perfect for the end of summer when we celebrate all the deeply-flavored, deeply-colored fruits. It's super east to make, check out my Secret Shortcut Fig Jam.

In terms of wine, this would work nicely with a medium-bodied Italian red or a heavier-bodied Italian white. I've been loving Soave lately, which is a white from a specific region in northeastern Italy. Picking a wine with some stonefruit flavors will complement the fruits on the board nicely and reinforce the late-summer vibe.

Make a big version of this board for a crowd, or a small version for date night. This is how food is meant to be eaten, right? Sitting around together, intimately, with our hands, exploring all the flavors and textures.

Please share your creation so I can see how you've interpreted the concept! Tag "The Rogue Brussel Sprout" on Facebook or hashtag #theroguebrusselsprout on Instagram. 

Loving the idea of making all your own condiments? Then take a look at this Oil-Free Pesto too! There are infinite options for different herbs and different citrus.


Please follow The Rogue Brussel Sprout on Instagram!