This is an easy Summer Cheese Plate for any occasion! Perfect as a no cook appetizer for a cookout or grilling session, for picnic or just as a light dinner in the summer heat.
Beginners Guide to a Summer Cheese Plate
This cheese board was inspired by all things summer. It uses fresh summer fruits that are best this time of year (who doesn’t love fresh summer cherries or summer berries?) and pairs them with lighter cheeses that won’t weigh you down as you munch on this before the main course. Paired with salami, almonds and strawberry jam, these are all store bought and easy to add to the plate. An easy appetizer with less than 10 ingredients and minimal prep should be easy to put together. Technically the recipe calls for toasting the baguettes, but if you’re feeling extra lazy you can use hearty crackers to snack on goat cheese and strawberry jam. Garnished with mint (I love mojitos in the summer!) so they don’t wilt like basil, it brings the board together and smells like summer too. All of the ingredients on this board should be easy to find in a normal grocery store and if they aren’t or you need some substitutions, they are listed below.
How do you assemble a summer cheese board? Like any cheese plate, it is very forgiving and is depending on your style, what you picked up and your platter. Below is a simple guide but it will taste delicious no matter how you arrange it.
- Turn on your broiler, place a rack on the top shelf. While it is warming, slice the baguette into ¼ inch pieces and place in a single layer on a sheet tray. Lightly spray with oil and toast for one to two minutes until lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Next, place the herb crusted goat cheese on board, somewhere slightly off center but not directly against the edge.
- Optional but cool if your alpine cheese has it, cut the cheese out of the rind and save the rind. If not, just cube/triangle up the alpine cheese. Place the rind opposite of the goat cheese and add cut up cheese.
- If the cheeses are at 12 and 6 oclock on a clock, place the jam in a small bowl at either 3 or 9 oclock.
- Stack up your bread and arrange it down the middle of the board. You can make it all fit by adding a curve or two into the bread arrangement.
- Take the salami and fold it over twice. Continue to do this until you’ve folded about half the salami and with the edges facing up, add to the board near the goat cheese. Finish folding the rest and add it near the alpine cheese.
- Between the goat cheese and the baguettes, add in the cherries. This will fill a large portion of your board or you can replenish as they get eaten.
- On the opposite side of the baguettes, add in the blackberries.
- Add the almonds to any areas that need to be filled. If you’ve filled your board, move around some of the fruit to make room for the almonds.
- Garnish with mint for some color and fragrance.
How do you fold salami? Simply take a piece of salami and fold it in half once and then again. I continue to fold until I have a fair amount and then place it on the board. It’s an optional step but it looks great and makes it easy to grab a piece. It’s a personal pet peeve of mine when ingredients on a cheese board are hard to pick up.
How do you toast baguettes? This is an optional step but it definitely brings the platter up a notch. To do this, just slice the baguette into quarter inch slices and place on a sheet tray. Lightly spray the baguette with oil and place under the broiler for one to two minutes until lightly toasted. The bread should be slightly crunchy but not crouton hard.
Tips and Tricks
What board do you use for your cheese boards? I use this cheese plate from Target that is 15 inches in diameter. You can use a rectangle one or any other large cheese board or platter you have.
What do you drink with this summer cheese plate? Anything light and fruity would go great with this platter. I’d serve Rose or another chilled light wine, any light or fruity beer or a classic cocktail like a mojito or gin and tonic. Any of those would compliment the board well, but ultimately drink whatever you fancy in the summer.
When should you serve this cheese platter? A summer cheese plate is meant to be a light no cook appetizer or snacky dinner. I’d serve this as an appetizer while you finish grilling dinner or as a snack while you have cocktails and wine with friends on a summer night. It would even be a great picnic cheese plate as well if you toast the bread ahead of time. It doesn’t need to be warm, just slightly crunchy.
How do you protect this recipe from the summer heat? I would avoid keeping this platter or any food out for too long in the summer heat. Because this is an appetizer, I’d only keep this board out for about an hour or two, in the shade and keep an eye on it. If things start to melt or sweat, it’s getting too warm. If you have more food that won’t fit on the board, keep it in the fridge until you need to replenish. Another option is to place the meat and cheese on a separate board from the jam, fruit, nuts and baguettes, that way you can easily put the perishables into the fridge if necessary or if people aren’t eating.
How do you store leftovers from a cheese board? Store any leftover cheese in an airtight container in the fridge. You can store the two cheeses together. Store all fruit together in an airtight container in the fridge. If you have leftover jam, store that in a sealed container in the fridge. Almonds and baguettes can be stored in airtight containers on the counter. It is hard to store already picked mint, so I’d either use it in a mojito or toss it.
What substitutions can you make?
- Goat cheese substitute: bite sized fresh mozzarella balls
- Alpine cheese substitute: try to look for a grass fed semi firm cheese or anything nutty
- Strawberry jam substitute: any summer berry jam (blackberry, cherry, peach, raspberry)
- Toasted baguettes substitute: hearty whole grain crackers
- Salami substitute: prosciutto or cut up smoked sausage
- Cherry substitute: any fresh summer fruit that looks good that day at the market
- Blackberry substitute: any fresh summer berries like raspberries, strawberries, blueberries
- Almond substitute: cashews or shelled pistachios
- Mint substitute: parsley (basil will wilt quickly)
What is alpine cheese? Alpine cheese is a style of cheese typically made in the Alps region in Europe. Cheeses include swiss cheese, gruyere, comte or emmental. However, the cheese I used was Pleasant Ridge Reserve, made in Wisconsin, USA only made in the summer months from grass fed cows. This can be hard to find, so any grass fed cheese OR alpine style will work well here.
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Summer Cheese Plate
- 8 oz baguette
- Oil spray
- 4 oz fresh goat cheese with herbs
- 8 oz grass fed alpine cheese
- ¼ cup strawberry jam
- ½ lb thin sliced salami folded
- ½ lb fresh cherries
- 12 oz fresh blackberries
- 2-3 oz almonds
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh mint
- Turn your broiler on high and move an oven rack to the highest shelf. Cut baguettes into ¼ inch pieces and place in a single layer on a sheet tray. Lightly spray with oil and toast under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Place the goat cheese off center toward the edge of the platter.
- If your alpine cheese has a rind, cut the cheese out carefully and keep the outer edge of the rind. Cut the cheese up into small bite size pieces like cubes or triangles. Add the rind to the cheese platter opposite of the goat cheese. Add cut cheese to the inside of the rind.
- Put the jam in a small bowl and place between the two cheeses, off center on the board.
- Arrange the bread down the middle of the board by stacking the pieces together. If you need to, add a curve to the row of bread to be able to fit more.
- Take the first half of the salami and piece by piece fold it in half once and then in half again. Add this row of salami to the board with the edges facing up near the goat cheese. Repeat with the second half of the salami and place near the alpine cheese.
- Between the goat cheese and the baguettes, add the cherries. I leave the stems to make them easy to pick up.
- On the opposite side of the baguette, add the blackberries.
- Fill in any holes or sparse spots with almonds.
- Garnish the board with mint and serve.
- All amounts are approximations, use as much or as little as you want or can fit on your board. You can always lay some out and then add more as necessary to keep it fresh.
- It’s best to put this recipe out for only a few hours and keep it in the shade.
- If you can’t find the herb crusted goat cheese, any fresh chevre (goat cheese) will work just as well.
- Any alpine or grass fed cheese will work for the board.
- Store leftover fruit, jam, cheese and meats separately in airtight containers in the fridge.
- Store leftover baguettes and almonds separately in an airtight container on the counter.