Summer grilling season is upon us, and I’m all about easy appetizers. With Sargento Tastings eight new varieties of specialty cheeses, you can make your next get-together a little less stressful by putting together a no-fuss cheese tray.
So, small confession here: as a food blogger, I often get a little stressed out when I’m entertaining. People expect you to serve something fancy and festive and quite frankly, by the time I’ve worked all week and gotten the house into a presentable shape, the last thing I want to do is spend hours preparing food. Cheese trays are one of my favorite ways to entertain, simply because they’re so easy to put together. I especially love them in the summer months, when it’s too darn hot to maintain a huge appetite or to turn on the oven.
You just need to grab some fresh fruits, jams, crackers, and wine (if you’re into that sort of thing), spread it out on a tray, and you’re good to go.
However, the specialty cheese case at my grocer can sometimes get a bit expensive. When I’m shopping for four to five different varieties of good cheeses, $10 or so a piece doesn’t fit my budget. That’s why I was super excited to find Sargento’s new line of eight specialty cheeses: at a suggested retail price of $2.69, they don’t break the bank!
If you’re like me, you love cheese, but don’t always know what to pair with the different varieties. So I’ve put together a list of my favorite tips when entertaining with a cheese tray.
First, grab a few varieties of different crackers, pita chips, bread rounds, and/or pretzel crisps.
I loaded up on some over the weekend at Wal-Mart and found a great variety for not a ton of money.
Next, set out a few of your favorite jams or spreads.
After trying this Fig-Proscuitto Pizza, I’ve discovered that fig jam is my very favorite jam to serve with cheese. Below, I used a strawberry jam with Sargento New Zealander Cheese, which was simply heavenly. The New Zealander is a combination of creamy Gouda and sharp Cheddar (two of my favorites!), and I almost ate the entire block during this photo shoot. Oops?
You’ll also want to grab a few cheese knives.
You don’t have to spend a fortune – you can find many for less than $5!
Fresh fruit is also a must: apples, grapes, berries, pears – even pineapple!
Pineapple and grapes are the perfect compliment to Sargento’s Fiesta Pepper Jack. This variety blends a buttery Monterey Jack with four fiery pepper varieties, and is one of my favorites.
The Medium Asiago cheese is smooth with nutty undertones, and is perfect paired with nuts, bell peppers, and a nice sauvignon blanc.
Apples and nuts are always great paired with cheddar cheeses. We enjoyed both the Aged Wisconsin Cheddar and the Aged Vermont White Cheddar along with some apple slices and roasted almonds. Try serving a glazed nut blend along with the White Cheddar – yum!
The Bruschetta Jack was another super fun cheese. It’s soft and cream and combines the flavor of natural Monterey Jack with staple bruschetta ingredients – you’ll want to serve this one with crisp bread slices and/or crackers and a red wine. A Zinfindel would be perfect.
Whatever your plans for the summer, try entertaining with a cheese tray – it’s pretty much no fuss, which leaves you more time for visiting and relaxing. And isn’t that the whole point?
Tell me: what’s your favorite kind of cheese?
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