The Ultimate Fall Harvest Board

Overhead shot of the ultimate fall harvest boardBoards and platters are my jam when it comes to easy entertaining! They are beautifully impressive, delicious, easy to assemble, and tend to suit a wide variety of palates and dietary needs. In this epic guide to the Ultimate Fall Harvest Board, I share 10 tips on how to structure the most magical board, as well as suggestions for picking the best cheese, proteins, carbs, veggies, fruit, unique/bold ingredients like pickled or deviled eggs, and other bits and bobs that take your board from lacklustre to lustrous. I’ve partnered with the Egg Farmers of Canada once again to help bring some new fall flavours to the growing number of free recipes on EggcentricTV and this board highlights the flavours I love most this time of year. To my American friends, this board would make a STAND OUT contribution to your family dinner!

But it you’re a superstar and already planning for the December/January celebrations, the ingredients transition well into the winter.  Just make a few seasonal swaps. Hellooo holidays! We’re coming for you and we’re bringing the clementines!

Ultimate Fall Harvest Board Tip 1. Discover what’s in season
Beauty is always in season. For the freshest and most beautiful food, take a cue from what’s around you. Use this guide to build your ideas, then head to the market and grocery store to determine what’s in season and what looks the best before making your final picks. For example, I reaaaaaaally wanted to put gorgeously hued pomegranates on this board, but the ones that are available right now just aren’t up to snuff. Any day now, those little ruby jewels will be ripe for the picking!

Ultimate Fall Harvest Board Tip 2. Get a Mix of Cheeses
With a plethora of cheese to choose from, arrowing down a few favourites can be tricky.  A general rule that people tend to abide by is to select one or two cheeses from each of the following categories: Firm, aged, soft, and blue.

  • Firm Cheeses are the ones that are used more sparingly in dishes. Because of their sharp, pungent flavour profile, they tend to be grated or shaved into thin slices as an accent to something more subtle. Some examples include Pecorino, Parmesan, Mimolette, Manchego, and Grana Padano.
  • Aged Cheeses are intentionally cured over time to develop their texture, color, and/or a stronger flavour. They also become firmer because they lose moisture during the aging process. Some examples include: Differing varieties of Asiago, Cheddar, Gruyere, and Provolone.
  • Soft Cheeses have a higher moisture content which keeps their texture soft and spreadable. Examples include: Brie, Telaggio, Camembert, Goat cheese, and Fresh Mozzarella.
  • Blue Cheeses, simply put, are cheeses that contain veins of blue mold. The mold, which is safe to eat, occurs as a result of penicillium being added to the cheese. Blue cheese is also quite odorous (you’ve heard the term “stinky cheese”), as well as sharp, pungent, and salty in flavour. Some examples include: Gorgonzola, Stilton, Roquefort, and Danish Blue.

I’m not a fan of blue cheese on its own, but see its merit in a pasta sauce or certain types of pizza. For this board opted out of blue cheese and chose manchego, a 3 year aged cheddar, and brie. Mimolette, with its vibrant orange complexion, would be fantastic on this fall-themed board.

Ultimate Fall Harvest Board Tip 3: Roll your meat
Vegetarians, you have my permission to skip this section. 🙂 But for the omnivores out there, here’s a hot tip: Rolled or folded meat is much easier for people to grab than when it’s laid out the way it comes in the package. From experience, nobody wants to be clumsily peeling pieces of prosciutto off of each other.  What do you do with all the pieces you’ve touched? #awkward

Parma ham, salami, bacon, ham, pâté, chorizo, prosciutto, and sopprassata all add a chewy umami-ness to your board. To make it more seasonal, use meats that are flavoured with fall-inspired ingredients like maple syrup, for example. For this board I opted for two salamis: cervelat and hot genoa. Prosciutto was also a contender, but I ran out of room on the board. Oops!

Ultimate Fall Harvest Board Tip 4: Offer the Spectrum of Carbs
I don’t mean that you have to offer every kind of carb, but it’s a good idea to offer a mix of different kinds of carbs. You’ll need at least one loaf of chewy bread and one box of crunchy, sturdier crackers. Both have a different appeal and pair differently with varying ingredients. In addition to the basics, more variety can be added. The carbs are the vehicle for everything else, after all.  So don’t be stingy! As a point of interest, grissini always make the board more visually appealing and flatbreads are an innovative touch. As for you low-carbers out there, I have friends who recommend parmesan crisps and almond-based crackers for their boards. These rosemary sea salt crackers that I developed for BAKED years ago are an all-time favourite in my books; and they’re a nice option for those who are trying to avoid gluten.

For this board I used fresh baguette and fruit, nut, and seed crackers commonly known as “raincoast crisps”. In hindsight, I wish I’d also included water crackers. They are bonkers good with room temperature, gooey brie.

Ultimate Fall Harvest Board Tip 5: Get Creative With Your Veggies
A crudités platter is so passé, especially in the fall. Who wants to be eating cold, raw, plain vegetables? In the summer, it’s an entirely different story. But when we think of adding veggies to a platter or eating them as an appetizer, carrot and celery sticks always make an appearance alongside their partner in crime–ranch dressing. You’ve all seen it–and avoided it–at parties, I know! Which is why I’d like to suggest a different approach to eating your veggies here.

  • Serve pickled veggies! Aside from the obvious (cucumbers), sweet or hot peppers, carrots, cauliflower, onions, asparagus, beans, and radishes can all be delightfully pickled.
  •  Serve roasted veggies! Roasted squash cubes, sweet potato rounds, potato wedges or chips, sections of fennel, bell peppers, brussels sprouts, etc. all produce a lovely natural sweetness when roasted.
  •  Serve one unique veggie: How often do you see endive leaves, radicchio wedges, steamed artichoke leaves, sliced kohlrabi or watermelon radishes, and blistered shishito peppers on a platter? Colourful, flavourful, not-so-common veggies make a show-stopping addition to even the simplest of platters.

Ultimate Fall Harvest Board Tip 6: Choose Both Savoury and Sweet Options
Don’t forget about the sweets! Sweets compliment many of the salty choices typically found on a charcuterie board. Dried and fresh seasonal fruit like pears, apples, concord grapes, and pomegranate, plus local honey, apple butter, and fig or quince jam are all wonderfully festive options. What do honey drizzled goat cheese, fig with melty brie, and apple butter and aged cheddar have in common? They’re all dream combinations!

For this board, I used fresh figs, dried cranberries, and sliced apple. As I mentioned above, I would have also loved to have used fresh pomegranate, but it’s a bit too early in the season to find poms that are as pretty as they are tasty.Overhead shot of Harissa Roasted Kabocha Squash Hummus nestled into the Ultimate Fall Harvest Board

Ultimate Fall Harvest Board Tip 7: Spreads, Dips, and Condiments
Whether you like to dip, spread, or garnish your crackers, a condiment of sorts is necessary for a well-balanced board. These flavour enhancers also add some heft for the vegetarians in your group. Preserves, jams, hummus, baba ganoush, mustards, red pepper jelly, artichoke spread, muhammara, and tapenade all make excellent additions to a vibrant board. Choose two to three for optimal variety.

For this board I used this harissa roasted pumpkin hummus and a nut-free muhammara (both recipes can be found below)

Ultimate Fall Harvest Board Tip 8: Be Bold
Pickled eggs might seem like they’re straight out of your mom’s 1980s Legion cookbook, but they have a presence that transcends the decades. Don’t knock ‘em til you try ‘em, I say! These tangy orbs make a bold, compelling, and tasty conversation piece. I’m not exaggerating when I say that my family discussed them at length when we were feasting on our board. My aunt also promised that I’d send her the recipe! Said recipe for spicy pickled eggs can be found below. Other bold ideas include raw honeycomb, kimchi, saurkraut, or other fermented greens, date syrup, chocolate, and chili oil.

Ultimate Fall Harvest Board Tip 9: Bit and Bobs
For a board that looks bountiful, fill the spaces with other little tasty little bits. Nuts, toasted pumpkin seeds, olives, veggie chips, gherkins, caper berries, marcona almonds, and dried fruit like cherries, cranberries, figs, dates, and mulberries are small and diverse enough to fill in the cracks of your board. I used pistachios in the shell, dried cranberries, and oil cured olives. If I’d had marcona almonds, they would have definitely made an appearance.

Ultimate Fall Harvest Board Tip 10: Pick the Right Board
Large cutting boards, large wooden paddles, marble slabs, serving trays, slate boards, ceramic platters, and even a cookie sheet can all be showstoppers with the right food on top. If you want to take your board game to the next level, think in terms of colour and what board will compliment the food you’re going to be serving?. Dark boards compliment lighter coloured food and light boards compliment darker foods, for example. We eat with our eyes first, as they say. So let’s put our best boards forward.

Thank you for supporting my partnerships. They allow me to create even better content for you. And thank you to the Egg Farmers of Canada. They are the creators of the EggcentricTV app, a creative and innovative TV network dedicated to all things eggs! To see the full Ultimate Fall Harvest Board video with all of my tips and tricks in action, download the app for free (available thru the App Store, Google Play and Roku)! You can search Ultimate Fall Harvest Board on the Fall Flavours channel. In the meantime, get a sneak-peak of the video here and check out all of the complementary recipes below.

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Nut-Free Muhammara

Muhammara is a sweet, earthy, robust dip that will forever change the way you see red peppers. Typically made with toasted walnuts as a base, this version uses sunflower seeds with equal success making it allergen-friendly and cheaper to make. Feel free to use walnuts if that’s what you eat and have on hand.

  • Author: Kris
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 servings
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern

Ingredients

  • 1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs (whole wheat, gluten-free, whatever you prefer)
  • ½ lb (8 oz) jarred roasted red peppers (about 2 large peppers)
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses, plus more for drizzling if desired
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ¾ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp sea salt, plus more to taste as needed
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp water, or more or less as needed

Instructions

  1. Place the sunflower seeds and breadcrumbs in a high-speed blender or bowl of a food processor and process until the they’re finely ground.
  2. Add in the roasted red peppers, garlic, tomato paste, pomegranate molasses, red wine vinegar, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper and process until smooth. With the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil until it’s incorporated. If the mixture is too thick, add water a tablespoon at a time.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  4. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat. Just before serving, sprinkle with olive oil, pomegranate molasses, parsley, and pomegranate seeds, if using.

Notes

Muhammara will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for a week.

Feel free to garnish with olive oil, freshly chopped parsley, pomegranate molasses, and (when in season) pomegranate seeds.

Use it as a dip, sandwich spread, or accent to your favourite Middle Eastern-inspired bowl. It’s easy to make and allergen-friendly, so you’ll find yourself making it again and again.

Keywords: Muhammara, roasted red peppers, nut-free, sunflower seeds, dip, spread

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Spicy Pickled Eggs

Spicy, tangy, and hearty, pickled eggs may seem like they’re out of your mother’s 1980’s Legion cookbook, but keep an open mind. They may very well be found in that Legion cookbook, but they’re a tasty old bar staple that have been around for centuries prior for a reason.

  • Author: Kris
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 1 week
  • Total Time: 1 week
  • Yield: 8-10 eggs

Ingredients

  • 8-10 large eggs
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp pickling spice
  • 1 Tbsp chili flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 sliced serrano chili pepper
  • 1 sliced scotch bonnet
  • ½ a small yellow onion, sliced

Instructions

  1. Place eggs in a large saucepan and fill about two-thirds full with cold water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and cover for 9 minutes. With a slotted spoon, immediately scoop eggs out and place them in an ice water bath. Allow to sit for 15 minutes. Gently tap the eggs on a hard surface for easy peeling.
  2. Place peeled eggs in a quart-size mason jar.
  3. In medium saucepan, combine remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Pour just-cooled brine over eggs.
  5. Refrigerate for at least one week before eating. The longer the better!

Notes

Refrigerate for at least one week before eating. The longer the better!

Keywords: pickles, spicy, eggs,

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Pickled Cauliflower and Carrots

Crunchy and tangy, these pickles are easy to make and pair well with your favourite savoury sandwich.

  • Author: Kris
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 week
  • Total Time: 1 week
  • Yield: 1 quart/4 cups
  • Category: Pickles
  • Method: Quick pickling
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • ½ head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled, halved, and cut into thirds
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1½ cups white vinegar
  • 1½ cups water
  • ½ Tbsp coriander
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 Tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp salt

Instructions

  1. Place cauliflower, carrots, and garlic in a quart-size mason jar.
  2. In medium saucepan, combine remaining pickling ingredients and bring to a gentle boil. until salt and sugar dissolve.
  3. Remove from heat and allow brine to cool for a few minutes.
  4. Pour just-cooled brine over the vegetables.
  5. Refrigerate for at least one week before eating (the longer the better!), shaking half way through. 

Notes

Feel free to sub in any vegetables that you like. Pickling time may vary, but you can taste-test along the way.

Keywords: Vegetables, pickles, cauliflower, carrots, snacks

5 Comments

  • This truly is the ultimate! I am SO making this board for Thanksgiving!

    • Reply November 9, 2018

      Kris

      So much fun! I hope you like it!

  • Reply November 9, 2018

    Brenda

    Pickled eggs are my jam. Such a beautiful recipe and board!!

    • Reply November 9, 2018

      Kris

      Thank you! I didn’t realize how much I’d like the eggs! 🙂

  • Reply November 11, 2018

    Liren | Kitchen Confidante

    This is the most EPIC post – so many amazing tips, tricks and ideas! And yay for pickled eggs…they don’t get enough love.

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