Reading is often a time commitment. Settle in with a book you love and you might not get up again for hours. Creating a grazing board is the perfect accompaniment to a day of reading. You’ll have a variety of tastes in front of you, without needing to get up or worrying about keeping stuff chilled. Grazing boards tend to be more versatile than charcuterie.
What is a grazing board? It’s a lot like charcuterie or a cheese board, but often cheese and meat aren’t the star of the show. It’s a board (or plate, platter, baking sheet, cutting board) loaded up with small bites. Grazing boards are great to pair with reading because it’s not food that necessarily takes your whole attention. Easy to grab and snack on while turning the pages.
Select Your Snacks
Decide what kind of board you want to make. Of course, the traditional board is a classic for a reason; it’s delicious. You can pick from a variety of cheeses, soft, semi-soft, and hard. Think about their shapes, wheels of brie, wedges of pecorino, maybe slices of havarti.
When it comes to meats, cured deli meat is the way to go. Prosciutto is the queen of the grazing board because of her versatility. It can be folded and eaten alone, wrapped around asparagus or melon. Just like with the cheeses, it’s good to have a variety. A spicier soppressata next to a mild mortadella. This way you have the opportunity to pair different meats and cheese together in the same bite for several different flavor experiences with relatively few ingredients.
Crackers and bread are next. Toasted slices of baguette or crostini from the store are a solid base for building a perfect bite. Just like the cheeses and meats, a choice of different flavored crackers mix things up and keep the board interesting. Other possibilities are pretzels, focaccia, and pita chips. Texture is important here as well. Do you want a soft bite or a crunchy one? You can have both.
Adding strong flavors as accents to the staples is essential. Grapes, olives, dried fruits. These items should add to the base and bring color to make the board more visually pleasing. This is also when you add sauces, condiments, and garnish.
Grazing boards are not limited to meat and cheese alone. The great thing about them is that they can absolutely be themed around what you’re reading or what you’re in the mood for eating.
Meat and cheese sound too heavy? Try a sushi grazing board instead. Get take out from your favorite local sushi restaurant or even buy sushi straight from the grocery store, then lay it out on a board or platter so it’s easier to snack on throughout the day. If you do this, be sure to buy sushi that does not have to stay chilled.
Another idea: an entire dessert board with cookies, brownies, cupcakes and chocolate. Maybe you’re more of a candy person than a baked goods person. Fill a platter with Starburst, gummies, jelly beans, and sour worms.
Brunch boards are an excellent option, especially for an all day reading event. Brunch, as the name implies, takes you from breakfast to lunch (and later, in this writer’s opinion). Brunch boards could range from waffles sliced into sticks for dunking in various toppings like jam, syrup, and whipped cream to stacks of miniature savory sandwiches. Making a brunch board with mini pancakes and an assortment of syrups with a side of bacon could certainly get you through a long reading session.
A pastry board is another great option. Croissants, pain au chocolat, or crescent rolls. Donut boards, scone boards, muffin boards. An exotic fruit board or a board focused on a mediterranean theme with tzatziki and cucumbers, pita slices, and baba ganoush. It could have bruschetta with antipasto. The possibilities for brunch boards are just as limited as your imagination.
Assembling the Board
Board here is used as a general term for an item on which to serve delicious snackage. If you don’t have a fancy board, don’t sweat it. A cutting board works just fine. So does a plate or a baking sheet.
PRO TIP: If you’re making a grazing board that needs to travel, say to your monthly writing critique group or book club, assembling it on a baking sheet with a lip is perfect for keeping everything in place and easy to wrap with plastic wrap or foil, since it has the metal edge to cling to.
Once you have your plate, board, or platter, place whatever small bowls you are using on it first. These bowls could hold jam, mustard, honey, onion dip, and hummus for example. Any kind of liquid or semi-liquid that needs to go in its own container.
Then place your cheese wedges and wheels. Remember the rule of three. Items are usually more visually pleasing when grouped in threes. The different shapes of cheese can make these part fun and add dimension to your board.
Next place any focal items you want to highlight on your board. Pancakes on a brunch board or bunches of grapes still on the vine. Around these focal items should go your grains: crackers, pretzels, bread.
Finally, fill in any white space (or wood space depending on your board) with nuts, olives, dried fruit, popcorn, or chocolate squares, depending on your theme.
Now all you need are your stretchy pants — or hey, no pants at all if you’re in the comfort of your own home, I’m not going to judge — and some throw blankets. Make a pillow nest, put your grazing board within arms reach and settle in. The only time you’ll need to get up is to turn on the lights after you’ve read into the night.
If you liked this, check out 10 Foods and Drinks Readers Tried because of a Book, 5 of the Best Audiobooks about Food and Cuisine, and 7 Bookstagrams to Follow if You Love Eating as Much as (or Almost as Much as) Reading.