How to Craft the Perfect Summer Cheese Plate

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SummerCheesePlate-13

Summer entertaining should be fun and easy. The solution? A Wisconsin cheese plate!

Everyone finds something to snack on with a well-crafted cheese plate. Whether you’re nibbling on one pre-dinner or serving as the main meal, cheese plates are an interactive way to get the party started. They’re especially good during the summer months when many cheeses are at peak flavor. Cheese can take on a tangy, grassier flavor in the summer as dairy cows graze on green, nutrient-rich pastures. Those flavors come through in the milk, and result in an even more delicious cheese plate.

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The key to the perfect summer spread is to keep flavors fresh and light. With a variety of Wisconsin cheeses; juicy, sun-ripened fruit, and classic accompaniments—like olives and nuts—you’ve got everything you need for a hosting a relaxed evening with family and friends.

Here are a few quick tips for putting together a summer cheese plate:

  • Choose 3-5 cheeses. Skip rich, more intensely flavored cheeses like aged cheddar, blue and brie in favor of lighter options.
  • Aim for a variety of textures and flavors. Your selection should include a mix of fresh, aged, soft and hard cheeses.
  • Estimate 1-2 ounces of each cheese per person when serving cheese as an appetizer.
  • Cheese is most flavorful at room temperature. Take harder cheeses (like gouda and parmesan) out one hour before serving, and softer cheeses (like burrata and ricotta) out ½ hour before serving.

This laid-back cheese plate is more of an un-recipe—think of it as summery inspiration rather than a must-follow recipe. The reason this spread works is because the contrasting mix of creamy, sweet, savory, salty and crunchy always satisfies. Dip peach slices in milky fresh ricotta and drizzle with honey. Or, smear a cracker with creamy burrata and top with prosciutto, rosemary and sweet sundried tomatoes. The combinations are endless.

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Don’t forget—the perfect Wisconsin cheese plate demands good wine to go along with it. A crisp white wine or rosé works well for washing everything down.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 8 ounces prosciutto
  • Fresh berries
  • Grapes
  • Peaches (fresh or grilled)
  • Green and/or kalamata olives
  • Sundried or roasted cherry tomatoes
  • Cornichon pickles
  • Shelled pistachios
  • ½ cup onion and/or shallot jam
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs
  • Honey
  • Olive oil, for drizzling on the burrata
  • Fresh baguette, crackers and/or breadsticks, for serving

Assemble your ingredients on a platter, wooden cutting board or cheese slate. Arrange cheeses and accompaniments on the platter, and serve with baguette slices, crackers and breadsticks.

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