Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten’s Charcuterie Cheese Board Is Simple and Elegant

A charcuterie board is one of the most customizable appetizers that is so easy to assemble and satisfies everyone. Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten’s cheese board tips can take this appetizer to the next level with just a few small additions.

Ina Garten on The Chew in 2014
Ina Garten | Jeff Neira/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Barefoot Contessa’s charcuterie board tips and tricks

Garten shared her tips for a beautiful charcuterie board on Barefoot Contessa that will leave guests impressed. “The key about a cheese board is to make it look as sort of warm and presentable as possible,” she explained.

Garten starts with four fig leaves, but explained that any flat leaf will do the trick and “looks really nice underneath” the spread. “I then I want something with a little bit of height so the classic thing is a big bunch of green grapes,” she added.

Garten continued, “When I’m doing a cheese board I always like to do at least three cheeses and I always choose things that are quite different from each other.”

Garten used blue cheese, a hard cheese, and a creamy cheese, then filled in the board with more treats. “So now I like to just fill in with things that will be delicious to eat with it,” she shared, “just spilling casually” dried apricots, crackers, salted rosemary shortbread, and dried peaches.

Garten explained that fresh fruit makes a nice addition too. “Just choose things that would be delicious and also have some color with it,” she added. Her final addition was a fig compote that she added to a fig leaf placed between the cheeses to form a cup.

During a 2018 segment on The Chew, Garten demonstrated another cheese board appetizer creation, beginning with lemon leaves that can be found at a flower shop. “Something green always makes the cheese board look better,” she noted.

She explained how placing something taller like grapes “kind of grounds the whole platter.”

Garten also offered up a pro tip for selecting cheeses — different tastes, but also shape and texture. “What I’m always looking for is a combination of shapes and colors and flavors,” she explained. “They’re all different and so everybody gets to choose.”

She continued, “One of the key things I’ve always learned is that if you put a piece of cheese on that’s not cut, if it’s not open, nobody will make the first cut.” She showed how she takes a wedge of camembert and places it on top of the circle of cheese.

In another cheese board video, Garten shared the importance of keeping a cheese board simple, without overloading it too much. She also recommended placing cheese with the rinds in and the cheese facing out.

RELATED: Ina Garten Reveals Her Secret to Making Perfect Cocktails and It’s So Simple

Fig compote recipe

In addition to the standard cheese, fruit, and crackers, Garten makes a homemade fig compote as a spread.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest (2 oranges)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 
  • 3 3/4 cups sugar 
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise 
  • 2 pounds purple figs, stems removed 

Cut the figs in half. Add orange juice, zest, sugar, vanilla bean, and figs to a pot. Cover and bring to a full boil over medium heat. Remove lid, stir and boil hard for 1 minute. Simmer for 1 hour, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Discard vanilla bean and refrigerate.