Last year, when Nigella Lawson was in Melbourne, I went along to see her. The talk had a really big impact on me, especially when she spoke about the importance of cooking for oneself – how this is an act of nourishing yourself and one of self-love and self-care. Grazing is the perfect quick lunch or dinner dish for this!
The inclusion options are truly endless, from what’s growing in your garden, to things green-thumb friends might pass on, and of course what’s in season at the store. My only real rule for creating a grazing table is to go for odd quantities of ingredients: three to five cheeses, three types of meat, three to five antipasto items, and three other special treats, like nougat and Turkish delight, chocolate or halva!
If you’d like a ready-to-go shopping list, below I share everything I’ve used for this spring grazing table, serving four…
For the tomato salad
1 punnet mixed cherry tomatoes
2 heirloom tomatoes
1 bunch basil
150g ricotta salata (or sheep milk pecorino) – this will be heaps but you can use the rest on other salads or in pasta later in the week; I’ve worked in deli’s since I was 15 years old and now it’s a faux pas to order 50g of cheese!
A dash olive oil
Optional: 50g white anchovies
Slice large tomatoes and place on a plate. Add halved cherry tomatoes and basil leaves.
Sprinkle with cheese – I like to use a microplane (it’s my favourite kitchen utensil). Add anchovies and drizzle with olive oil.
This one is best prepared just before serving, though can keep refrigerated for up to four hours.
For the honey-drizzled cheese
500g (1 small wheel) Brillat Savarin – this cheese is next level! If you have a really big group, I’d recommend going for the ‘delice’ but the ‘savarin’ is great for a group of four to six people.
1 bosc pear, and extra dried pear for garnish (I get these from Terra Madre)
1 honeycomb, which I usually source from Leo’s or Land of Soy and Honey at Queen Victoria Market
One hour before serving, remove cheese from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.
Place on serving dish/stand, drizzle with honey just before serving – if you do it first, the honey really gets a life of its own and drips everywhere. Plus, it’s truly the icing on the cake and super performative so you can even do when your guests arrive!
Then garnish with dried pear and whole (or sliced) fresh pear.
For the other plates
1 loaf of crusty bread ( I got this from Loafer Bread)
2 packs of crackers – we’ve used water crackers here, I also love the beetroot crackers from Terra Madre and it’s great to have some gluten-free ones on hand too.
200g Gippsland Shadows of Blue cheese from Psarakos Market (also available at Leo’s or Bill’s Farm at Queen Victoria Market)
300g Singletons Cheddar cheese
300g Heidi Farm Gruyere cheese
250g Woodside Lemon Myrtle Chevre cheese – it’s the ultimate, and looks amazing with its green-dusted outer)
150g bresaola, always shaved – there’s nothing worse than thickly-sliced meat
250g prosciutto, I’ve used Di San Daniele
150g casalingo hot salami
A handful caperberries, in brine
150g cornichons – our go-to brand is Marco Polo from Psarakos Market
100g roasted red peppers
150g Sicilian green olives, in oil with rosemary and garlic
100g artichokes, in oil with chilli
1 punnet strawberries, halved
1 pomegranate, halved
300g crimson grapes or any other seasonal fruits.
100g walnuts – organic is best, they’re so crunchy (or local whole ones are fun too if you provide a nutcracker on the table
100g pistachios, natural
100g almonds, all natural or roasted if you feel like something special
150g cherry and almond nougat (try Free to Feed’s Persian style recipe here)
100g Turkish delight from Psarakos Market or Leo’s
If you’re treating yourself to a special solo dinner, you can simply prepare a big single platter of all ingredients and dig in!
However, if making a bit of a spectacle of the spread for guests, I like to arrange meats, antipasti and bread on serving platters and other assorted dishes.
Then, on layers of chopping boards, cake stands or elevated dishes, I place cheeses (with a few enticing slices pre-cut!) alongside fruits.
Lastly, I provide a stack of plates, cheese knives and serving spoons at one end of the table – and it’s all ready to go!