How to make a grazing board that's sure to impress

Head to the deli to get most of the provisions required for this board and then add your own highlights. Picture: James Moffatt
Head to the deli to get most of the provisions required for this board and then add your own highlights. Picture: James Moffatt

Entertaining is all about good food and good friends. It's about connecting with others and sharing laughs over delicious food and drinks. Grazing boards are designed for exactly this purpose - large platters of sumptuous food that can be enjoyed and shared by all. Covering fabulous party food - from cheese and antipasti boards, to barbecue and seafood boards, to Mexican- and Asian-themed boards - this book is all you'll need to create the perfect grazing board for your party. With full construction instructions you'll discover the secrets to creating a board that not only tastes good but looks good, too.

  • Grazing Boards, Australian Women's Weekly, Bauer Books, $49.99.

Antipasti selection

Head to the deli to get most of the provisions required for this board. If possible, request that your cold cuts are sliced to order and ask to see the first slice; that way you'll know if the slicer is proficient. Check to see that your goodies are being carefully laid out and separated by wax paper for easy separation later. With skinny sausages of salami, if you have a steady hand and a sharp knife (and the time), there's money to be saved in buying a whole sausage and slicing it yourself.

Make

Chargrilled three-cheese zucchini flowers; mushroom arancini; rosemary and grape olive oil focaccia; cracked green olives with pecorino; tonnato dip; grilled vegetable and provolone muffuletta.

Buy

Salumi: prosciutto, bresaola (cured beef), 'nduja (chilli-infused spreadable salami), garlic and fennel salami, mortadella; Cheese: parmigiano reggiano, gorgonzola dolce, burrata (cream-filled mozzarella), bocconcini; Fruit: melon, pears, figs, grapes; Bread-like things: grissini, fresh or chargrilled bread, pane croccante (thin wafer breads), pane di casa

Drink

Prosecco; Italian soft drinks; Sparkling mineral water

Serving

You will need: 1 large wooden board; 3 medium shallow bowls; 2 small bowls; baking paper; 1 knife; serving utensils

Build

Using the main picture as a guide, position the bowls on a large wooden board. Place a large sheet of baking paper diagonally across the board.

Place the burrata, bocconcini and melon wedges in the medium bowls. Place Tonnato Dip and Cracked Green Olives with Pecorino in the small bowls. Place Mushroom Arancini, Rosemary and Grape Olive Oil Focaccia and Grilled Vegetable and Provolone Muffuletta on the board, then add all the bought items to fill the gaps. Add Chargrilled Three-cheese Zucchini Flowers to the board last. Add the knife and serving utensils.

Chargrilled three-cheese zucchini flowers. Picture: James Moffatt

Chargrilled three-cheese zucchini flowers. Picture: James Moffatt

Chargrilled three-cheese zucchini flowers

Ingredients

50g blue cheese

50g fetta

250g firm ricotta

2 tbsp finely chopped mint

1 tsp finely grated lemon rind

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 egg yolk

18 zucchini flowers (540g)

2 tbsp olive oil

Method

1. Crumble blue cheese and fetta into a medium bowl. Add ricotta, mint, lemon rind, chilli flakes, garlic and egg yolk to bowl; stir to combine. Season to taste.

2. Open zucchini flowers carefully and remove yellow stamens from inside the flowers. Spoon or pipe cheese mixture into flowers (see tip), leaving a 1cm gap at the top. Twist petal tops to enclose filling.

3. Brush flowers with oil. Cook flowers on a heated grill plate (or grill or barbecue) over high heat for one minute each side or until lightly charred and heated through. Season to taste.

Tip: To make an easy piping bag, spoon mixture into a small zip-top bag and twist the open end to seal. Snip the corner, then pipe mixture into flowers.

Prep it: Zucchini flowers can be filled up to four hours ahead; keep refrigerated until ready to cook.

Makes 18.

Mushroom arancini. Picture: James Moffatt

Mushroom arancini. Picture: James Moffatt

Mushroom arancini

Ingredients

1 litre salt-reduced vegetable stock

200g swiss brown mushrooms

2 tbsp olive oil

30g butter

1 small onion, chopped finely

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1 cup plain flour, seasoned

3 eggs, beaten lightly

1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs

2 tbsp thyme leaves, chopped finely

14 cherry bocconcini, halved

oil, for deep-frying

Method

1. Place stock in a large saucepan over high heat; bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and keep stock hot.

2. Place mushrooms in the bowl of a food processor; process using the pulse function until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl.

3. Heat olive oil in a large, deep heavy-based frying pan over high heat. Cook mushrooms for six minutes or until mushrooms are golden. Transfer to a bowl.

4. Add butter to the same frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring, for four minutes or until golden. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Add rice and cook, stirring, for two minutes.

5. Add one-third of the hot stock. Cook, stirring, for seven minutes or until almost absorbed. Repeat two more times with remaining stock. The rice will take approximately 20 minutes in total to cook. Stir through mushrooms and half the parmesan. Season to taste. Transfer risotto to a large, shallow roasting pan; freeze for 20 minutes or until chilled and firm.

6. Place seasoned flour, beaten egg, and combined breadcrumbs, thyme and remaining grated parmesan in separate shallow bowls. Roll one tablespoon portions of risotto to make 28 balls in total. Push half a piece of bocconcini into the centre of each risotto ball. Coat balls in flour, egg, then breadcrumb mixture.

7. Heat oil for deep-frying in a deep, heavy-based saucepan to 170 degrees. Cook arancini in batches for four minutes or until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towel.

Prep it: Arancini can be made up to three days ahead; store in an airtight container in the fridge. They can also be frozen for up to two months; thaw in the fridge before reheating.

Makes 28.

Tonnato dip, top, and cracked green olives with pecorino. Picture: James Moffatt

Tonnato dip, top, and cracked green olives with pecorino. Picture: James Moffatt

Cracked green olives with pecorino

Ingredients

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup orange marmalade

2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly

1 tsp fennel seeds, toasted

1 tsp chilli flakes or 1/2 small red chilli, chopped finely

230g pitted green sicilian olives

125g pecorino or parmesan

Method

1. Combine oil, marmalade, garlic, fennel seeds and chilli in a medium bowl.

2. Place olives on a chopping board. Using the back of a spoon or the palm of your hand, flatten to crack the olives open. Add olives to the bowl. Coarsely chop or crumble pecorino into the bowl. Stir olives and pecorino to coat in flavourings.

Tip: You could also mix olive types and add other varieties of olives, such as small ligurian olives, or if you want to add colour to the olives, include some semi-dried tomatoes.

Prep it: Mixture can be made one day ahead; cover and refrigerate.

Serves 12.

Tonnato dip

Ingredients

185g canned tuna in olive oil, drained, flaked

4 drained anchovy fillets

1 1/2 cups whole-egg mayonnaise

2 tsp lemon juice

1 1/2 tbsp drained capers, rinsed

1/4 tsp chilli flakes

flat-leaf parsley and grated parmesan, to serve

Method

1. Blend or process tuna, anchovies, mayonnaise, lemon juice, capers and chilli flakes until smooth. Season to taste. Serve sprinkled with parsley and parmesan. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.

Prep it: Dip can be made one day ahead; cover and refrigerate.

Serves 4.

Chorizo, chickpea and pumpkin salad. Picture: James Moffatt

Chorizo, chickpea and pumpkin salad. Picture: James Moffatt

Chorizo, chickpea and pumpkin salad

Ingredients

1kg butternut pumpkin halves

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 large red onion, cut into wedges

2 x 125g cured chorizo sausages, thickly sliced on the diagonal

400g can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed

1 long red chilli, sliced thickly

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

1/2 cup coriander sprigs

sherry vinegar dressing

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp sherry vinegar

1 clove garlic, crushed

Method

1. Preheat a covered barbecue with all burners on low and hood closed until temperature reaches 220 degrees.

2. Peel pumpkin and cut crossways into 2cm thick slices, then cut each slice into four pieces.

3. Combine cumin, paprika and oil in a small bowl. Toss pumpkin with half the spice mixture in a medium disposable foil roasting pan. Season. Add onion wedges to pan. Place pan on barbecue. Turn burners off underneath pan, leaving the other burners on low. Cook pumpkin and onion in covered barbecue for 40 minutes or until almost tender.

4. Combine chorizo, chickpeas and chilli in a large bowl with remaining spice mixture. Add to roasting pan with pumpkin and onion. Cook in covered barbecue for 20 minutes or until chorizo and pumpkin are browned and tender.

5. Meanwhile, make sherry vinegar dressing. Place ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake well. Season to taste.

6. Transfer pumpkin mixture to a large platter, drizzle over dressing, then add herbs. Toss gently to combine.

Tips: Disposable foil roasting pans are available from supermarkets and are great to use for cooking on the barbecue. This recipe can also be roasted in a 200 degrees oven for the same cooking time.

Serves 8.

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This story Not sure where to start with a grazing board? Here are a few tips first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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