Meet Your New Skill: Crafting a Seasonal Charcuterie Board
Meet your new skill, friends. Crafting a seasonal charcuteria board? Adulthood level 1,000,000 unlocked. Maybe you’ve eyed charcuterie boards on menus at restaurants, or raided them shamelessly at weddings (is that just me?) but now it’s time to level up and learn to craft your own.
I don’t use the word “craft” lightly… While this charcuterie board comes together rapidly once the ingredients are selected, each should be chosen with care. First consider your meat: I selected charcuterie (pronounced shar-KOO-ter-ē) from local San Francisco artisan brand Columbus Craft Meats for my board, because eating seasonal = good, but eating seasonal + local = better. Almost 100 years ago in 1917, Columbus’ founders started air-drying salami in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood (the city’s Little Italy). They knew the foggy local climate made their product special (it’s why only slow-aged salami from the Bay Area should be called “Italian Dry”). I’m lucky enough to live in today’s San Francisco that is a foodie’s paradise, and enjoy the products of historic companies like Columbus that have perfected their craft for decades.
Another thing to love about Columbus is their commitment to antibiotic-free meat. The FDA reports that: 80% of all antibiotics in the United States are fed to farm animals. Click To Tweet This widespread use of antibiotics in livestock has created “super-bugs”: strains of bacteria that are resistant to these drugs. Not appetizing AT ALL. In fact, according to a Federal Interagency Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance, “the extensive use of antimicrobial drugs has resulted in drug resistance that threatens to reverse the medical advances of the last seventy years.” Furthermore, 75% of antibiotics fed to farm animals remain undigested and can be passed to humans, making us more susceptible to bacterial illnesses. Personally, after hearing facts like that it’s a choice between running screaming to veganism or supporting brands that make a stand for antibiotic-free meat, despite the increased cost. Columbus is making the conversion to antibiotic-free meat now, and will be substantially transitioned by the end of 2017.
So! Back to the charcuterie as perfect pairing for the naturally A+ taste, texture, and color of luscious springtime produce at the peak of its early growing season. Here’s your quick guide to serving seasonal springtime produce with your charcuterie:
- Fruit: select the brightest, ripest, shiniest fruit at the height of its flavor… and simply wash and serve. The naturally sweet and tart flavors will complement the salty, savory meat.
- Vegetables: lightly steam the beans, gently boil the patty-pan squash, and serve the peas raw… all with a dash of quality flake salt and a sprinkle of citrus zest. The goal is to spend as little time and effort on preparing the vegetables as possible. Some charcuterie boards rely on preserved pairings out of jars (such as artichoke hearts, peppers, olives, or cornichons). While those kinds of charcuterie boards can be delicious, take advantage of tender, flavorful spring produce in as close to just-picked form as possible.
- Miscellaneous: I crafted my charcuterie board without bread or cheese as an allergy-free option for those with gluten and lactose sensitivities. As a substitute for the traditional baguette, I created 5 Ingredient Rosemary Walnut Crackers that are simplicity itself.
They can be considered a cracker template; simply grind two cups of your nuts of choice, add a teaspoon of the chopped herb of your choice, an egg, and a tablespoon of coconut oil. Voilà, you have crackers! Experiment to your heart’s content.
Happy crafting! If you’re in the San Francisco area, look for Columbus Craft Meats at your local market or grocery store.
- 2 cups roughly-chopped walnuts, or nuts of your choice
- 1 tsp diced rosemary, or woody herb (rosemary, thyme, sage) of your choice
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 egg
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Grind the walnuts to a coarse sand in the blender or food processor. Add the rosemary, coconut oil, salt and egg, blend just until a sticky paste forms.
- Lay out a piece of parchment paper, spoon the dough onto it, then cover with a second piece of parchment paper. Roll the dough out in a rough oval to ¼" thick. Remove the top piece of parchment paper, and transfer the cookies to a sheet pan. Press additional pieces of walnut into the surface of the cookies as garnish, if desired.
- Bake for 15 minutes (some foaming is to be expected). Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool. Snip additional rosemary over the cookies as they cool if desired, then slice into squares (or irregularly-shaped shards). Serve warm or cool.
Special thanks to Columbus Craft Meats for kindly sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are honest, and 100% my own.