How to Make the Perfect Cheese Board

Creamy brie, salty gouda, and funky blue cheese make a balanced board.

Nothing gets a party going like a cheese board: it breaks the ice, provides a place to congregate, and gets the people snacking. While no one will turn her nose up at a box of crackers and block of extra sharp cheddar, a truly next-level cheeseboard is both impressive and easy to put together—so long as you’ve got a game plan. Read on for our guidelines and watch the video few pro tips.

The Best Cheese for a Cheese Board

The cheese is the reason we’re all here, but the best advice is to keep it simple. Odd numbers tend to look best on a board, so pick three delicious, interesting, eclectic cheeses. Age, texture, and origin are they key factors to consider: one creamy, one crumbly, and one funky cheese is a good place to start.

cut cheese board

PRO TIP: Cut small pieces or slices into your cheese before you put the board out for guests; this is a great way to suggest a serving size, create motion in your presentation, and make people feel comfortable to dive right in. No “first person to cut into the cheese” jitters.

What is a Charcuterie Board

Charcuterie is the French word to describe cured and cooked meats like pâté, bacon, and cured salami. Incorporating some charcuterie into your cheese board, or building a separate charcuterie board with an array of cured meats, will add luxurious flavor and texture to your spread. Try visiting a local butcher to what’s in stock. Freshly shaved prosciutto and whole dried sausages will beat the precut stuff at the supermarket any day.

Picking Meats for a Charcuterie Board

Balance is key when it comes to the carnivore-friendly part of your cheese board. Texture and flavor are the most important variables: try pairing delicate prosciutto (a fan favorite) with one hard, cured salame (such as chorizo) and one soft salame (like soppressata). Avoid overkill on salt or spice. If you’ve loaded up on powerful flavors, add a slice of pâté or terrine to provide a mild foil for them.

PRO TIP: Lili Dagan, Culinary Manager, is the resident cheese board expert in the Test Kitchen after years perfecting the craft while working in events. Her signature move? A meat river. Fanning out delicately rumpled prosciutto or slices of salami into a ribbon that travels from one end of the board to the other makes the arrangement feel ample and deliberate.

cheese board with prosciutto

Other Additions to a Cheese & Charcuterie Board

A cheese board goes from good to great with the addition of a few *extras* — some crunchy, tender, sweet, and pickly bits to cut through the salt and fat of the main event. Little bowls of one-biters like roasted nuts or olives, provide necessary textural contrast. Briny bites like a cornichons or gherkins refresh your palate. Finish things off with a few condiments. Grainy mustard, honey, and jam all adds a spreadable or drizzly pop of flavor. The sweet and salty contrast of jam or honey will work will with almost any cheese.

Best Crackers for Cheese

PRO TIP: Don’t forget the carbs. Your cheeses and spreads will be SO lonely without something to put them on. Simple crackers will do the trick, providing a dependable base without overpowering any exciting flavors. For a gourmet touch, try this: thinly slice a baguette, brush it with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and toast in a 400ºF oven for 15-20 minutes, flipping once.

cheese board with fruit

Charcuterie & Cheese Board Tips

Fruit is your friend! Celebrate the time of year by adding some seasonal produce to your board. Concord grapes and stone fruit in the summer or citrus and pears in the winter add color, freshness, and a welcome respite from cheese.

PRO TIP: Temperature matters. Take your cheese out of the refrigerator at least 1 hour before you plan to serve it, to come to room temperature. A cheese’s flavor, smell, and texture changes in the cold (and not in a good way), and you want those wedges and wheels to shine!

cheese board with meat and wine

Charcuterie & Cheese Board Pairings

Cheese’s best friend? Wine, of course. Check out the Blue Apron collection of food-friendly white wines, six wines to pair with your festive holiday cheese board.

One Easy Rhubarb Recipe, 3 Ways to Eat it

rhubarb recipe used in blondies
Blondies with flaky sea salt

This simple rhubarb recipe is just four ingredients: sugar, vanilla extract, rhubarb, and water. Honestly, water barely counts as an ingredient, so it’s closer to three. Thanks to rhubarb’s characteristically tart and punchy flavor, this simple slow-cooked compote has a surprising amount of complexity. Here, the natural tartness is tamed by the addition of sugar and gentle heat, leaving you with an ever so slightly zingy jam. 

Yogurt with compote and granola
Yogurt with compote and granola

Once you’ve made the compote, the possibilities are basically limitless. Of course, it’s delicious on its own, but why stop there? Spread it over peanut butter on a thick slice of toast, mix it into plain yogurt, swirl it into blondie batter, or spoon it over a scoop of ice cream for a wonderful spring dessert. 

Just remember to act fast, rhubarb season lasts from spring to early summer. 

rhubarb compote over ice cream
Rhubarb compote over ice cream

Slow-Cooked Rhubarb Compote Recipe 

Recipe from from Dappled: Baking Recipes for Fruit Lovers: A Cookbook

  • 1/2 Cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ Cup water 
  • 1/2 Tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Pound rhubarb, cut into 1″ chunks
  1. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and vanilla extract. Heat over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Stir occasionally. 
  2. Add the rhubarb and stir. Reduce the heat and cook over low until the rhubarb is soft and sticky. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reached your desired consistency. 
  3. Store in an airtight container. This compote will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. 

Greenmarket Inspo: Grilled Oysters & Parsley-Chile Butter

Every week, our test kitchen team pays an early morning visit to New York City’s biggest farmers market: the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan. Comprised of over 70 stalls bursting with flowers, local products, and beautiful seasonal produce, it’s the perfect place for a hit of mid-week inspiration. Follow us on Instagram to tag along (bring a tote bag, it’s impossible to leave empty handed!) and see what we decide to make with our market haul.

After our success picking up bacon at the Greenmarket, we set out to find another non-produce item to use in the Test Kitchen this week, and landed in front of a stall full of coolers and trays of ice. Farmers’ market seafood may sound odd, but if you live near a fishable body of water, it’s likely some of the freshest you’ll find for sale in your area. In New York, we’re lucky that our markets often offer wild-caught fish and shellfish from off the coast of Long Island alongside the carrots and artisanal sourdough, and we took full advantage, buying a few dozen oysters.

For a last summer hurrah, we lit our grill one final time. Grilling oysters is an easy way to prepare them — especially if you don’t have the tools required for shucking. A brief stint in a hot, closed grill pops the shell open, making them easy to separate by hand and serve however you like. We prepared a slightly spicy, slightly herby compound butter to dot into each shell. Carefully sticking them back on the grill for about a minute melts the butter into a flavorful sauce, and makes each oyster a one-bite celebration of the season. 

Grilled Oysters & Parsley-Chile Butter

Serves 4
Special equipment: grill 


2 dozen oysters, unshucked
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp Calabrian chile paste
1 clove garlic, finely grated
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley leaves and stems
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
Oil, for the grill


1. Make the compound butter:

In a bowl (or food processor, if you have one), combine the butter, chile paste, garlic paste, and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Form into a log; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until use, at least 15 minutes. Cut into small pieces.

2. Grill the oysters:

Heat a grill to medium-high; oil the grates. Working in batches (do not do more than a few at a time, to avoid overcooking), place the oysters, unshucked, on the grill, flat side up. Close the grill. Cook until the top shells pop open, 3 to 4 minutes. Using tongs or a spatula, carefully transfer to a sheet pan. Discard the ones that don’t open.

3. Finish the oysters & serve your dish:
Remove and discard the top shells. Add a piece of compound butter to each grilled oyster. Carefully place on the grill. Close the grill. Cook 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the butter is melted. Using tongs or spatula, remove from the grill. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Greenmarket Inspo: Zucchini & Squash Blossom Galette

Every week, our test kitchen team pays an early morning visit to New York City’s biggest farmers market: the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan. Comprised of over 70 stalls bursting with flowers, local products, and beautiful seasonal produce, it’s the perfect place for a hit of mid-week inspiration. Follow us on Instagram to tag along (bring a tote bag, it’s impossible to leave empty handed!) and see what we decide to make with our market haul.

When in the market for a picture-perfect brunch dish, dinner party side, or crowd-pleasing appetizer, look no further than a savory galette. While sweet, fruit-filled versions get most of the limelight, freeform tarts filled with vegetables and cheese make just as much of an impact, and allow for fun experimentation with herbs and spices, post-oven drizzles, and savory alternative flours. 

A galette was the perfect showcase for this week’s farmers’ market find: a clamshell full of sunny squash blossoms. These bright yellow blooms grow from the same plants as zucchini and summer squash, and often appear on restaurant menus stuffed with cheese and fried until crispy. We used them as the final touch to our galette filling, splayed atop a swoosh of seasoned ricotta and thinly-sliced zucchini. In the oven they get golden-brown and a little crisp, a nice contrast to the herby, buttery pastry and hot honey drizzle.

Zucchini & Squash Blossom Galette

Serves 6 – 8


For the dough:
⅔ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp picked thyme leaves
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces.
1 egg, beaten

For the galette:
1 zucchini, thinly sliced into rounds
5 – 6 squash blossoms, stem end trimmed, stamen or pistils removed
1 cup ricotta
1 clove garlic, finely grated
2 oz grana padano, grated
1 tsp lemon zest
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp honey
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Make the dough:

In a bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, thyme, and salt. Using your fingers, flake the butter pieces into the flour mixture, until it resembles wet sand (some larger pieces are ok). Add the beaten egg; use a fork to combine, then pat together with your hands into a flat disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

2. Brown the zucchini:

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven, then preheat to 350°F. In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Working in batches if necessary, add the zucchini rounds in an even layer. Cook, without stirring, 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Turn off the heat.

3. Season the ricotta:

In a bowl, combine the ricotta, garlic paste, lemon zest, and half the grated grana padano; season with salt and pepper.

4. Assemble & bake the galette:

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough into a ¼-inch-thick round (approximately 14 inches wide). Transfer to the prepared sheet pan. Spread the seasoned ricotta into an even layer on the dough round, leaving a 1- to 2-inch border around the edges. Layer the browned zucchini over the ricotta, cooked side up, overlapping where necessary. Top with the squash blossoms. Sprinkle with the remaining grated grana padano. Fold the edges of dough up over the filling, overlapping where necessary, to form the crust. Brush the crust with the beaten egg. Season with salt and pepper. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven.

5. Make the hot honey & serve your dish:

While the galette bakes, in a bowl, combine the honey, red pepper flakes, and 2 teaspoons warm water. Drizzle the baked galette with the hot honey before serving. Enjoy!

Greenmarket Inspo: BLT Salad with Grilled Romaine & Bacon Fat Croutons

Every week, our test kitchen team pays an early morning visit to New York City’s biggest farmers market: the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan. Comprised of over 70 stalls bursting with flowers, local products, and beautiful seasonal produce, it’s the perfect place for a hit of mid-week inspiration. Follow us on Instagram to tag along (bring a tote bag, it’s impossible to leave empty handed!) and see what we decide to make with our market haul.

We understand how this looks. Of all of the bright and juicy late summer produce to choose from at the greenmarket, we went with bacon? But hear us out: thicker cut and with a serious layer of fat, farmers’ market bacon cooks up to the platonic ideal of the breakfast food, both melt-in-your-mouth crispy and meatily chewy at once. It definitely costs more than your average supermarket brand, making it an “every once and a while” treat, but when you are looking to splurge, it’s a worthwhile way to spend your market cash — and certainly warrants being the centerpiece of a dish.

This recipe uses bacon two ways: first, crisped in the oven and crumbled to scatter over the salad, and second (and this is where the extra fat from the farmers’ market variety comes in handy), to bake up a batch of golden brown croutons. Cooking bacon on a wire rack set on a rimmed sheet pan means the bacon stays crispy while the rendered fat drips down below. We toss torn pieces of crusty bread (and a grated garlic clove, for bite) in that reserved fat to evenly coat each piece before tossing the pan back into the oven. The result is a crisp and crunchy crouton with a subtle salty, savory flavor, ready to soak up any juices from the bursting September tomatoes we tossed over the salad (see, we managed to get some seasonal produce in there!).

BLT Salad with Grilled Romaine & Bacon Fat Croutons


Serves 4
Special equipment: grill or grill pan, wire rack


2 heads romaine lettuce, halved lengthwise through the core
8 slices bacon
½ pint (about 1 cup) cherry tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp buttermilk
2 tbsp mayonnaise
3 oz blue cheese, divided
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 bunch chives, thinly sliced
3-4 slices crusty bread, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 clove garlic, finely grated
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil


1. Roast the bacon:

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven, then preheat to 450°F. Fit a wire rack into a rimmed sheet pan. Place the bacon slices on the prepared sheet pan. Roast 14 to 16 minutes, or until browned and crispy. Leaving the oven on, remove from the oven. When cool enough to handle, crumble the bacon into small pieces. Remove the wire rack from the sheet pan, reserving the bacon fat in the pan.

2. Toast the croutons:

To the pan of reserved bacon fat, add the torn bread and garlic paste; season with salt and pepper (add a drizzle of olive oil if the pan seems dry). Toss to coat. Arrange in an even layer. Toast in the oven 6 to 8 minutes, tossing occasionally, or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven.

3. Grill the lettuce:

While the croutons toast, heat a grill or grill pan to medium heat; lightly oil the grates. Drizzle the cut side of the halved heads of lettuce with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill, cut side down, 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly charred. Transfer to a plate.

4. Make the dressing:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, buttermilk, mayonnaise, 2 oz blue cheese, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Assemble the salad & serve your dish:

Spoon half the dressing onto a platter; spread into an even layer. Place the grilled lettuce on the dressing, grilled side up. Top with half the tomatoes, half the crumbled bacon, and half the croutons. Drizzle with the remaining dressing. Garnish with the remaining tomatoes, remaining crumbled bacon, remaining croutons, remaining blue cheese (crumbling before adding), and chives. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Spring’s Most Sensitive, and Bountiful, Vegetable

“People say gambling came to New Jersey with the casinos,” laughs Tom Sheppard of Sheppard Farms in Cumberland County, New Jersey. “But gambling came with the first farmers. Out there in the field, mother nature can do all kinds of things to you.”

Tom is speaking from experience, both personal and inherited. He’s been farming his entire life, and his family has been farming in New Jersey since 1688, when four Sheppard brothers started planting about 10 miles away.


Tom’s also referring specifically to asparagus. Among the range of produce the family grows, asparagus presents unique challenges. It responds dramatically to small changes in air and soil temperature. It also requires patience; after planting, asparagus takes a full three years to mature before it’s ready to be harvested. And the stalks—which sprout straight up from the ground like saplings—have to be individually hand-cut.

The jackpot? A perennial plant that can be harvested annually for up to two decades.

From the middle of April until June, Tom employs a crew of 120 for the harvest. It’s tough work that, in good weather, must be repeated every day. This is another challenge, and payoff, of asparagus: when conditions are ideal, the stalks grow at an amazing rate. Sometimes, when it’s particularly hot, they could almost be cut twice a day. “We’re talking about something that was less than nine inches in the morning,” says Tom, “and then by noon it’s over twelve inches.”


Despite his current enthusiasm, there was a time when Tom wasn’t sold on joining the family business. When Tom went to Cornell as an undergraduate, he had one thing in mind. “I wasn’t going to be no damn farmer,” he remembers. But the call of the family business—risks, rewards, and all—was too much to resist. Not long after Tom’s brothers Erwin and David Jr. took over the family farm, Tom signed on as well. His brothers’ story had been similar: they had attended Cornell too, then found themselves back in New Jersey, and happy to be there.

“I think we wanted to prove we could do it,” Tom says—prove that the complexities of farming that generations of Sheppards had wrestled with were something they could master too.

They put their degrees from Cornell to use (the brothers represent a suite of complementary skillsets), ushering the family business into a new era. While their father farmed 150 acres, today the brothers farm 1,500. Major crops include lettuces, cucumbers, peppers, and—Tom’s favorite—asparagus. “After a winter off, I’m anxious to get back to it,” he says.


And the next generation, including Tom’s nephew Brandon Sheppard and his nephew-in-law Fran Hancock, is poised to join them. Tom’s especially excited for this winter, when his own son Alex, a mechanical engineer who’s finishing his MBA, is coming back home to join the team. Until that time, though, Tom’s happy to play the odds, eating asparagus the way he likes best: right in the field.

 “To walk down on the line and grab some asparagus and eat it raw,” he says, “…oh yeah.”

5 Ways to Use Up Your Fresh Spring Peas

You’ve probably noticed that we’re cooking with a lot of peas right now. Snow, snap, peeled, whole – they’re coming in all shapes, sizes, flavors and preparations (don’t be fooled by their name, snow peas are actually in season right now!) In order to keep the recipes just as fresh as the ingredients, we’re using them in all sorts of new ways.

Here, we’ve rounded up five of our favorite preparations so that you can make the most of this fresh crop!

1. Peeled English peas, blanched snow peas, and pea shoots in our Three Pea Salad

2. Sliced snow peas and pea tips in our Savory Ricotta & Snow Pea Fritters

pea fritters

3. Mashed English peas in guacamole for our Crispy Fish Tacos

Crispy Fish Tacos

4. Sautéed snow peas in our Chicken And Snow Pea-Radish Saute

chicken pea saute

5. Shelled sugar snap peas in our Lamb & Pea Orecchiette

Happy spring cooking, chefs!

Five Easy Salads as Colorful as Spring

Spring is here, and it finally feels like it! To celebrate the brighter weather, we’ve rounded up our picks for the best quick, colorful salads for the warmer seasons. These five salads follow the weather as it gets warmer and warmer, featuring ingredients that are harvested between now and the end of the summer (TOMATO SEASON!) Yes, we’re already daydreaming about our favorite varieties…

But enough about tomatoes – let’s start by serving up some spring:

Roasted Kale & Heirloom Carrot Salad

Warm Grain Salad

Beet Spelt Salad

Cobb Salad

Veg Cobb Salad


Tomato, Peach & Goat Cheese Salad


Tomato, Watermelon & Farro Salad

Watermelon Salad

5 Ingredients to Cook with This Spring

To celebrate the start of spring and the delicious produce it yields, we’ve created a guide to the spring veggies we’re looking forward to most, all of which will be featured on our menus this season. We can’t wait to cook the best of spring produce with you!

5 Ways Spring Herbs Make Dinner Great

Even as we wait for the ground to yield all of spring’s best product, we’re able to stay patient by making the most of bright, springy herbs in our April dinners. Look and see what our five springy picks can do for your risotto, your pasta, and your chicken.

1. Chives.

in Baby Artichoke Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms, Mustard Greens & Goat Cheese

2. Parsley.

in Roasted Chicken with Jalapeño-Herb Salsa, Mixed Citrus & Cracked Wheat Berries

3. Mint.

in Spring Herb & Vegetable Lo Mein

4. Cilantro.

in Pork Larb

5. Basil.


in Whole Wheat Spaghetti & Zucchini with Pistachio-Spinach Pesto

Video: How We Find Cooking Inspiration–at the Farmers’ Market

Blue Apron is now on video! Every Thursday, we’re posting a new video on our YouTube channel and over here on the blog. Subscribe for educational how to’s, entertaining cooking adventures, and behind-the-scenes looks at how we create and source our meals.

We’ve already helped you cut down your prep time in the kitchen by finessing your knife skills and making short work of onionsgarlic, and carrots.

Today, we’re going behind the scenes with Chef Matthew Wadiak to share how we get inspired to create incredible original meals every week. For Chef Wadiak, the process often starts at the farmers’ market, where he notices some heirloom tomatoes right at their prime and bunches of basil perfuming the air with their fragrance.

What’ll happen to the tomatoes and herbs once he gets back to the kitchen? Watch to find out.

And don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more cooking inspiration.

Three Limited-Time-Only Vegetables to Try This Spring

We love to visit local farmers’ markets this time of year, as spring produce makes its way from the fields to the vendors’ bins. With April turning into May, we’re obsessing over the season’s fruits and vegetables, incorporating rhubarb into our pork roast, asparagus into our fried rice, and fresh peas into our pasta.

Like spring’s cool,  non-humid weather, the season’s harvest is fleeting. Just as quickly as sugar snaps, fiddleheads, and fava beans appear, they’ll be gone. (It’s not all bad: that only means summer will be here, with its tomatoes, corn, and peppers.) And since they’re as tasty as they are healthful, we’re highlighting these three favorites with tips about how to prepare, cook, and eat these green gems.

Sugar Snaps

WHAT.  Sugar snaps are hybrids of English shelling peas and thin-skinned snow peas, invented by a scientist in 1979. As a happy result, both the pod and peas are edible, the pod adding crispness and the peas bringing sweetness to every bite. HOW. Fresh sugar snaps can be eaten completely, shell and all. Some people do remove the ends and the string, which can be a bit, well, chewy, in your final preparation. The sugar snaps in our boxes have already been trimmed and had the tiny strings removed. MAKE. A quick sauté brings sugar snaps to life without sapping them of their signature crunch. Adding them to a hot pan for no more than 2 or 3 minutes gives the shells a nice sear while leaving the peas inside bright and fresh. Still, we can never resist snacking on a raw pea or two while we’re cooking. In our Chicken with Ramps and Sugar Snap Peas, we pair the sugar snaps with another spring favorite, early-season leeks called ramps.


WHAT. Fiddleheads are prized for their tonic-like qualities, and because they traditionally herald other signs of spring. A member of the fern family, the vegetable is most commonly harvested in the midwest, near the Great Lakes, and in the northeast, where the curled-up tendrils flourish amidst the undergrowth in damp, thick forests.

HOW. Fiddleheads always have to be cooked. Just a few minutes in a sauté pan renders them crisp yet tender, the texture a little bit like a green bean. Another method to use is blanching–a quick bath in salted, boiling water. If you’re feeling adventurous, try breading and deep-frying the fiddleheads for a serious treat. MAKE. With gently sautéed spring onions and garlic, nutty whole grain pasta, and a handful of protein-rich white beans, fiddleheads become the focal point of this springy, light Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Fiddleheads & Spring Onions.

Fava Beans

WHAT.  Hailing from North Africa, the Mediterranean, and Southeast Asia, the buttery fava bean is an ancient staple of diets worldwide and an all-time favorite of our chef. To get your fix of food history, though, you’ll have to work for it: favas have to be shelled not once but twice. We like to think of the process as meditative.

HOW. First, shell the beans by unzipping the woody outer pods and removing the beans from within. Cook those in boiling water for just one minute. Rinse them under cold water, then break off the tip of each thin fava shell and pop the bean out from inside, collecting the doubly shelled beans in a bowl. MAKE. Since it’s time-consuming to stockpile a big serving of favas, be sure to bulk up your fava-based meal with other hearty ingredients. Our favas star in this Spring Minestrone with Fava Beans & Asparagus, which is also packed with vegetables, pasta, and Parmesan cheese. You can also throw favas into pastas and salads; their sweet taste matches really well with sharp, salty feta.