The Perfect Charcuterie Platter

Trendy Tuesday:

I think it is no surprise that Sam and I adore the trend of tapas and casual grazing snacks.  We love how this culinary trend automatically slows you down and encourages the magical combination of savouring & visiting.  Living in California, even the occasional warm winter afternoon beckons us to putz in the kitchen and linger at the table for some alfresco noshes.

In honor of this culinary trend, we decided to share with you one of our favorite spreads!  If charcuterie seems a little confusing, or just plain too uppity, let me bring it down to earth: it is basically just a snacking board that includes some great prepared meats like proscuitto, salami, and sopressata.  Of course, in true Zest fashion, we have decided to up the ante with some great “condiments” that bring out the flavors of the meats.  Yep, this is an awesome blog post because we are giving you two quick recipes along with a gorgeous example of how to “plate” your charcuterie.  Gorgeous AND yummy!!!

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Sauteed Mushrooms

1 pint of crimini or baby bella mushrooms, sliced

2 tbls butter

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup of white wine

just a pinch of dried thyme, not even a full 1/8 tsp because it will be strong

salt & pepper to taste

(Note: these pix are hilarious because it looks like I am totally cooking in a dirty pan.  Disclaimer: I had just caramelized onions in the pan a few seconds before…which just happens to be another awesome condiment for our charcuterie board.)

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Just make sure to not crowd the mushrooms in the pan.  If you do, you will never get them to brown up nicely because they will essentially “boil” in their own juices.

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The last step is adding the white wine.  Let it cook down a bit, and then place your mushrooms in a small container to await it’s place on the board!

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Moving on, we got even more trendy with kale.  Kale pesto to be exact!

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Kale Pesto

1 large handful of kale, about 1 1/2 cups in volume

1/4 cup of pistachio nuts

1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese

2 cloves of garlic

1/4 – 1/2 cups of olive oil, you are looking for consistency

salt to taste

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Placing a good handful of washed kale into a blender or food processor, add your pistachios, Parmesan, garlic, and olive oil.  Blend away until your pesto has a beautiful creamy consistency.  If you want to skimp a bit (aka use only 1/4 cup) of olive oil, you can add a little water to help your pesto loosen and reach a spreadable consistency.  The most important thing is that you puree until you cannot recognize the kale.  It should just be creamy and insanely bright green!

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Check to see if extra salt is needed before placing the pesto in a serving dish.  I added a couple of pinches to brighten the flavor.

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Last step before assembling our store bought meats and our flavorful punches in condiments is to cut up some crusty bread.  Make it extra special by placing the dry slices on a grill skillet or even on the BBQ.  The hash marks will make the platter look sexy, and the crunch will seriously satisfy every grazer that joins you for this casual meal of noshing, chatting, and (especially around here) soaking up some good ol’ vitamin D from the sunshine!

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The Perfect Charcuterie Platter

Sopressata

Proscuitto

Salami

olive tapenade (store bought is fine)

Sauteed mushrooms (recipe above)

carmelized onions

Kale Pesto (recipe above)

heirloom tomatoes

sea salt

fresh mozzarella

crusty grilled bread

(and a GREAT glass of vino!)

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Us Zest girls are feeling blessed and spoiled!

Good food and great friends makes for a more than perfect afternoon!  We will all be remembering this meal for a while to come.  Beautiful!  Bellissimo!

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Buon appetito!

And cheers to a culinary trend that makes you slow down and enjoy!

xoxo

Chanda

Photos Credit to: Jessica Helton

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