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Summer Entertaining: How COVID-19 Led to My Love for Charcuterie Nights

Food & Drink Lifestyle

Summer Entertaining: How COVID-19 Led to My Love for Charcuterie Nights

Charcuterie Board for Summer Entertaining

Halfway through the Summer!

It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway through summer. Thanks to COVID-19, we’ve been quarantining with no real plans to go anywhere or to do anything special. You’d think the days would be dragging on, but nope, they’re still flying by.

Regardless of our current situation, one thing I love most about summer is entertaining. No matter the weather, or the social distancing, I love preparing easy nibbles and drinks for whoever is stopping by. This summer, it’s all about family. We’ve been quarantining as much as we can, so our gatherings are smaller. But that hasn’t stopped us from savoring every moment of summer.

Charcuterie boards are my go-to option for summer entertaining. They’re so easy to put together, and they never fail to impress. Whether it’s just a few of us or we’re serving a crowd (5-8 these days), a charcuterie board never disappoints. And by the way, we are being careful, and I hope you are too. When we go up to get a few nibbles, we always have our masks on and wash our hands before we touch anything. Welcome to Charcuterie during COVID-19.

And now… I’m going to share my simple tips for making your next summer gathering and charcuterie board a success.

What’s on the Board This Summer?

A charcuterie board looks terrific on a white background.

Here’s the thing I love about charcuterie boards: they’re so versatile. Load them up and serve it as dinner. Or keep it simple and fill it up with pre-dinner nibbles. Pair it with cocktails and you have a party – for two or ten, or whoever wants to drop by.

What to put on your board depends on your mood, the occasion, and how creative you’d like to be. I keep it very simple for summer entertaining, usually choosing three types of cheeses (soft, hard, spreadable). Then I add an assortment of Italian meats, like prosciutto and salami, and then I may add hummus, various dips, olives, nuts, and fruits like figs, dates, and grapes. The possibilities are truly endless.

I always make sure to have fresh veggies on hand for those who are watching calories and yogurt or low-fat mayo-based dips.

One tip: Before you start picking out your serving ware and drinkware, think about what you’re serving. If it’s bright, vibrant dishes (think red peppers and tomatoes), simple white serving ware will make those colors pop. Otherwise, pretty patterned trays, platters, and plates are a great choice, and my favorite way to serve at our summer gatherings.

Pretty Patterned Trays, Plates, and Platters

Mediterranean inspired serving pieces from Williams Sonoma are perfect for serving charcuterie.

The presentation is just as important as the food. The charcuterie board is the centerpiece, but the trays, plates, platters, and bowls tie it together and can definitely impress. If you love summer entertaining just as much as I do, then you know how important it is to have the right everything. The right bowls, the right glasses, and everything in between. (Of course – the right company is the most important!)

To me, nothing screams summer like Mediterranean-inspired serving ware. The bright colors and cheerful patterns instantly transport you to an Italian lakeside terrace. That’s why I love the Sicily patterned bowls, platters, and plates from Williams Sonoma. I have everything for indoor and outdoor serving – even the table runner and napkins. And bakeware! The appetizer plates are my favorite for charcuterie feasts.

When I want to keep it simple and white, I use my Mud Pie serving pieces and a few Crate and Barrel boards like the white one featured above. I love their simplicity and elegance. They show off and draw attention to the food I’m serving.


I’d love to add Mud Pie’s Prep & Enjoy Flip board to my collection because it makes entertaining so easy. Chop and prep on one side, and flip it over to serve. If you’re more chips-and-dip and less charcuterie, this Mud Pie platter is fabulous (and it’s on sale!).

Cocktails!

Summer Thyme Gin Cocktails created by Jules Aron, The Healthy Bartender

Charcuterie and cocktails. Could there be a better pair? Whether it’s a feast for two or a big crowd, no summer gathering is complete without cocktails.

One of our absolute favorite cocktails for entertaining is by 5X Author, Consultant, and Holistic Wellness Creator, Jules Aron. Her five books cover everything from creating natural beauty resources at home to preparing guilt-free plant-based dishes, and wholesome drink and cocktail recipes, such as this delicious, Summer Thyme cocktail.

Summer Thyme Cocktail

(serves one)

  • 1/4 strawberries 
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • 3 ounces gin

Place the strawberries, two of the thyme sprigs and lemon wedge in a shaker and muddle well. Add the gin and ice and shake. Double strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with the remaining thyme sprig.

Besides Jule’s delectable cocktails, at our house, we also love skinny margaritas. OK – I love skinny margaritas! I like serving them in classic martini glasses. When we’re on our dirty martinis kick, we’ll bring out our Dorset martini glasses. These guys are fragile, but they really bring that wow factor to the party. And for Moscow Mules, we break out our copper mugs from William Sonoma.

We also use our double old-fashioned glasses quite a bit – and they come in a single size, too.

You can find Jules here: julesaron.com, thehealthybartender.com, Facebook: Jules Aron, and on Instagram: @julesaron. I highly recommend checking out any of Jules Aron’s books. Perfect hostess gift, too!

Don’t Forget the Dessert

Smart Baking Company light summer dessert with cream and chips.

I can’t imagine summer without dessert. Whether it’s s’ mores, ice cream, or the humble cake, there are so many ways to end the night with a little something sweet. And it gives you another chance to up the wow factor with fun plates and serving ware.

One of my favorite desserts to serve friends and family is actually guilt-free! I take my Smart Baking Company muffins, or smart cakes (both zero carbs, zero sugar, and keto-friendly), and top them with fat-free whipped topping, and Lily’s no-sugar-added dark baking chips. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather save my calories for the charcuterie and cocktails. Serving this for dessert satisfies my sweet tooth, yet doesn’t make me feel like I overdid it.

If you want to learn more about Smart Baking Company products (the hamburger buns are next level!) check out the way I incorporate these delicious buns in my every day life.

Find me on Pinterest, Instagram, & Facebook.

And now… I thought you might be interested in seeing what some of my blogger friends have been up to this summer. Great reads!

** This post may contain affiliate links, but please know all opinions are my own. You’ll only find products here that I am familiar with and genuinely love.

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Rosemary Davis
    July 16, 2020 at 11:11 am

    Wow, Gwen!

    What time would you like me to come over?
    Your post is beyond inspiring. I am going to have to up my game.

    Rosemary xoxo-rd

  • Reply
    D'Arcy vandenberg
    July 16, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    Everything looks so delicious! I love creating Charcuterie boards so yummy!

  • Reply
    Michele Linton
    July 16, 2020 at 7:09 pm

    You have a talent with charcuterie boards! I absolutely love the tableware and the Thyme martini looks delightful! I may have to fly out to Florida to visit! 😉

    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      July 18, 2020 at 3:17 pm

      And after quarantining two weeks, I’ll let you in, lol!

  • Reply
    Len
    July 16, 2020 at 8:04 pm

    Everything looks so appetizing and delicious! I think I’d like to try it all!

    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      July 18, 2020 at 3:17 pm

      Good Choice!

  • Reply
    Heidi Suydam
    July 17, 2020 at 4:03 pm

    Charcuterie boards and chocolate cake! Yes please!

    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      July 18, 2020 at 3:16 pm

      Exactly!

  • Reply
    Kim Cook
    July 18, 2020 at 8:41 am

    I love a great meal where I don’t have to heat up the kitchen. Charcuterie has been in our dinner rotation for several months. Love all the different foods you can use and all the cute trays and boards. And that cocktail. Will need to give it a try!

    Kim

    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      July 18, 2020 at 3:16 pm

      If you want a healthy cocktail, def look up my friend’s book on Amazon. Delish, and you don’t feel guilty, lol.

  • Reply
    Melanie
    July 18, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    Oh my goodness, Gwen! You are the charcuterie board queen 👸🏼! Everything looks delicious!! Soon Jack will be nibbling from your boards too 🙂

    Hugs,
    Melanie

    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      July 18, 2020 at 3:15 pm

      OMG, I can’t wait for Jack to nibble, lol.

  • Reply
    Nancy Weisx
    July 19, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    Gwen,

    You are the perfect entertainer! I wish I could visit you and enjoy all the wonderful food you prepare. I’ve saved this drink recipe as it’s a perfect summertime cocktail too. The dishes and settings your choosen look fabulous tool

    Cheers!

  • Reply
    jess jannenga
    August 14, 2020 at 11:28 am

    MMM, ok Gwen, I am getting hungry now! I love Charcuterie boards and these look so good! I love the wood trays and the bright colored dishes are so fun too! I love cheese! The cocktail recipie sounds so refreshing too for summer. We have been enjoying our days on the deck, so I may just give this a try!
    enjoy the weekend!
    jess xx
    http://www.elegantlydressedandstylish.com

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