Happy New Year, everyone! Wow!! Celebrating the end of 2020 has brought the world together; we can shed the weight of the number 2020 and look toward the brightness ahead. I have a perfect way to celebrate the end of this year: a New Year’s Eve Charcuterie Board. I love this idea because you can assemble it early and snack all night – which is my favorite way to eat. A homemade olive mix serves as the centerpiece in this arrangement, but every layer of this board plays a special role.
We have salty, sweet, sour, spicy, bitter; soft, smooth, crunchy, crispy, and chewy. All the flavors and textures are here, with endless combinations to excite and satisfy your palette. And, at the end of this year, we can all use a bit of satisfaction, right?!
Marinated Olive Mix
Let’s start with the olive mix because we need to let that marinate while we construct the board. Ideally it could sit in the fridge overnight, but an hour or two will be fine.
At least two types of olives work best for this. I have Chalkidiki and Kalamata olives with few stragglers left in jars in the fridge: green olives with pimientos and Spanish Manzanilla olives. We will smash the olives or at least break them in half, ending up with about 2 cups of olives.
Slice a quarter of a red onion (or half, if you have a small one) into strips. Peel 5 or 6 garlic cloves and leave them whole. Juice about 2 ounces of fresh lemon juice and zest about half of that lemon. We have fresh Rosemary sprigs, Thyme sprigs, and we will finely chop the parsley. Combine all of that with one cup of good olive oil. And then, this is optional, but I added two tablespoons of dry sherry. A couple tablespoons of Gin would be good too!
Give it a good stir and cover to let sit while we get to work on the board. I like this one-quart Cambro because the lid fits tightly and I can just give the whole mix a good shake every 10 minutes or so.
We definitely want to start with the cheese. Cheese needs to come up to room temperature before serving. You want the creamy textures to be creamy, which they will not be when they’re cold. We can also taste things better when they’re not cold; the distinctive flavors of specific cheeses will be easier to taste when they’re at room temperature.
It’s good to have a variety of cheeses that range from soft to hard. I typically go heavier on the hard and semi-hard cheeses, usually only featuring one or two super soft cheeses. Today, I went for broke with a Brie (because, well…2020). But, I often go for a Chevre with herbs. Elsewhere on the board, I have Manchego, a truffle cheese, a Comté cheese and a red wine-drunken goat cheese.
Since the olives are the centerpiece, I arranged the cheese wedges like a sun, radiating out from the olive bowl, with the wheel of Brie off to the side. This arrangement can work on a large square or rectangle board, as well.
Go for whatever meats you like! Salami and Prosciutto are easy choices. There are variations to those two that are quite nice too. The cheese wedges have set the shape of the board, so now we just fill in with meat. The triangular shapes created by the cheese are perfect spots for the sliced meats.
I have Prosciutto, Spanish Jamón Serrano (similar texturally to Prosciutto, but with salty cured flavor) and Calabrese Salami (which is a spicy salami). Also, we have Kielbasa and Smoked Chicken Liver Pâté, which I topped with fig jam. Take each slice of meat and create a little roll or bunch it up and place it so that one doesn’t have to fiddle with separating each slice.
Now that we have our foundation set with the meat and cheese, we can fill in with seasonal fruits. Tomatoes are a nice palette cleanser, their burst of acidic juiciness is a welcome refreshment. Plus, cherry tomatoes are bitesize and pretty decent even in winter. Go for a combination of different cherry tomatoes for color and flavor variety.
For the other fruits, I wanted go with winter fruits, so instead of grapes (which always go well), I chose mandarines, persimmons and red pears. I quartered the mandarines and sliced the persimmons and pears.
With the fruits in place, now we just fill in the blank spots with snacky things like nuts and dried fruits. I have plain pecans, spicy sweet candied pecans, salty Marcona almonds and dried apricots. It’s nice too, to have a little dish or two of mustard, jam or honey. I have a spicy sweet pepper jam, which I placed near the Kielbasa.
We finish with the strained olive mix in the center and the crackers and bread. I always like to have a wide variety of crackers and some sliced sourdough baguette.
I can’t tell you how happy I am about a cheeseboard. The creativity; thinking about the flavor combinations; coming up with interesting ways to arrange it….it just really captures my favorite parts about food. Endless combinations, all the textures and flavors to play with – it’s just very satisfying. A perfect way to end 2020.
New Year’s Eve Charcuterie Board
Do you love charcuterie boards as much as I do? Are you making a New Year’s Eve Charcuterie Board tonight? Let me know in the comments. Also, let me know what your plans are for tonight, and what you’re looking forward to in the new year. Reach out to me on Instagram, facebook or Pinterest. Want a perfect New Year’s Day Breakfast? Check out my Perfect Breakfast Sandwich.
Happy new year, everyone!
I want to take a minute to say just how thankful I am for your support and for being a part of this blog. I jumped into this new season of my life with both feet and your interest, support and love have not only warmed my heart, but helped me see that dreams can become reality. Thank you! xo Kelly
Marinated Olive Mix
Onions, olives, lemon zest and fresh herbs give this homemade marinated olive mix a fresh touch. Easily customizable and perfect for any occasion.
- 2 cups Mixed olives, smashed or broken up
- 1 cup Olive Oil
- 1/4 - 1/2 Red Onion, Sliced into strips
- 3-5 sprigs Fresh Rosemary
- 8-10 sprigs Fresh Thyme
- 5-8 Stems of Flat Leaf or Curly Parsley
- 3-5 Fresh Garlic, Peeled
- 2 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
- Zest of 1/2 Lemon
- 2 tbsp. Dry Sherry or Gin (optional)
Smash and break up the olives.
Slice the red onion into strips.
Finely chop the parsley.
Juice and zest the lemon.
Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl or 1-qt. Cambro and give it a good stir.
Cover and let sit for at least one hour, give it a stir or a shake every 10-20 minutes.
To serve, strain the olive mix and save the oil for another use.