I always think that when the weekend arrives, I’ll be ready to put on a cute dress and hit the city. Occasionally that happens, mostly just on special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries. Usually, by the time Friday rolls around, I just want to get home, put on some old torn up cut-offs and a t-shirt (without a bra) and chill out on my couch with a glass of wine. Tonight is one of those nights.
It’s been a looooong week at work, so the thought of actually having to go somewhere to do something just seems like an impossible task. That said, it is Friday night, and I am a bit hungry, and I haven’t had a glass of wine since last weekend (!), so we need to remedy this situation ASAP.
I absolutely LOVE charcuterie and cheese boards. I have, on more than one occasion, ordered up one as a meal instead of an appetizer. A charcuterie board is an assortment of cured or smoked meats. Charcuterie is French for “cooked meats” and is a type of cooking devoted to prepared meats, like smoked and cured meats. This would include things like sausage, bacon, and pâté. A cheese board is, obviously, an assortment of cheeses. In recent years, the charcuterie board, or meat and cheese trays, have become increasingly popular, being served up at trendy eateries everywhere. And there are countless articles and Pinterest boards devoted to “how to prepare the perfect charcuterie board.” These elaborate presentations include not only the meats and cheeses, but usually a bread or cracker of some type, some sort of fruit (fresh or dried), pickles or olives, and a jelly or other spread like grainy mustard. When ordering a charcuterie board at a restaurant, you are generally allowed to “pick 3” for a certain price, and can mix up whatever cheeses or meats you want.
The problem I’ve encountered in recent years is thanks to my gallbladder that decided to quit on me, my digestive system simply cannot handle anything even remotely fatty. So cheese and cured meats are out of the question. My husband also suffers from some dietary issues and intolerances so he stays away from dairy and pork products, which pretty much eliminates everything on the meat and cheese board except for the bread or pickles. Getting older is just so much fun!
Since I had a Home Happy Hour on the brain, I decided to whip up a “Theresa and Chip Friendly” charcuterie board using mostly low-fat items, and staying away from pork products. I know that sounds like it would be kind of gross, but to be honest, it turned out nicely. Where I would have loved to use a nicely aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or a creamy goat cheese, or a strong blue cheese, I instead had to settle for substitutes that, while not as gourmet, not only worked but were tasty. I opted for a couple wedges of low fat Laughing Cow cheese and a feta cucumber dip made by Good Foods. For the meats, to stay away from processed, high fat pork products, I opted for a dried beef and a smoked salmon. Prosciutto or a nice salami would have been my preference, but these two items actually worked quite well.
For the accompanying items, I chose an assortment of olives, some red peppadew peppers, dried apricots, almonds and pistachios, a super yummy Balsamic onion jam from Braswell’s Select, and fresh grapes, pears, and baby carrots. I also threw in some thin rye crisps and some toasted rosemary ciabatta bread. I then played around with different combinations while sipping on some rosé. I discovered that the feta cucumber dip went nicely on a rye crisp topped with salmon. The onion jam was delicious on the rosemary bread, and the Laughing Cow cheese, smeared on either the bread or a cracker, and topped with dried beef and a peppadew pepper was tasty. While I was sampling my assortment, I thought about other low fat or dairy free items that would work: a block of fat-free feta, some sun dried tomatoes, or pickled vegetables. Turkey bacon wrapped around fresh figs. There really are lots of options if you focus on flavor combinations that work well together. *By the way, check out the line of Braswell’s Select Jams. They come in beautiful, re-usable cocktail glasses, and there are so many delicious sounding flavors to choose from!
Like I said, not exactly my first choice in a charcuterie board experience, but it was tasty, fresh, and not bad for you – and my stomach was happy.
All of this went perfectly with my choice of rosé for the evening: Anew Rosé from the Columbia Valley region in Washington. Nice, crisp, and slightly dry it held it’s own with the strong flavors of the salmon and peppers, and played nicely with the onion jam.