Cornichons Are Nature's Cheese Board Dividers

A cheese board — loaded with dairy delights from across the world alongside accompaniments — is a universal crowd-pleasing offering for any social gathering. Paired with a basket of bread, a plate of crackers, and bottles of wine, it is a sophisticated means to snack your way through the evening. Best of all, aside from going to the store to purchase the ingredients, a cheese board is probably the single party dish that requires the least effort. Simply arrange the cheeses on a board or platter, and you are done — even simpler than a charcuterie board!

Although you can simply place hunks of cheese on a board and call it a day, there are many ways that you can make your cheese board beautiful by using some simple garnishes you can find in your local market. For example, cornichons, the tiny and briny French-style pickles, can be used to form delicious edible dividers for different types of cheese. When used in conjunction with other items — such as olives and crackers — you can add colors and flavors that complement your cheese choices.

Using cornichons to garnish your cheese platter

Cornichons are small, pickled gherkins or cucumbers, and you can usually find them near the cheese and deli section of the market. They are usually much smaller than the normal pickled cucumbers — most are no larger than the pinky. Aside from serving them as a side with charcuterie, cornichons are also served with cheese, most famously with raclette, a Swiss cheese that is served melted atop potatoes. Needless to say, it means cornichon is a fantastic garnish on a cheese plate.

To create a cheese board with cornichon garnish, place large chunks of cheese on a large cutting board or flat platter. Slice a small portion of each cheese, so your guests are encouraged to continue cutting into each. Open a jar of cornichons and drain the gherkins from the brine. To really make sure no stray juice soaks into your cheese, consider patting the petit pickles dry. Place small clusters of lines of cornichons between each type of cheese, so the cheeses are well divided.

More garnishes equals better cheese board

Aside from cornichons, there are many other garnishes that not only make the cheese easier to eat but also boost texture and flavor. For example, the tartness of pickled onions goes well with the creaminess of soft cheeses — while grapes provide a sweet interlude between bites of savory dairy. Roasted almonds and crackers provide a crispy and crunchy textural contrast, and dried fruits can be paired with strong cheeses such as gorgonzola. While you can offer a loaf of bread for guests to tear into, another way is to toast thinly sliced pieces of bread, then cut them into wide fingers for your guests to grab.

Of course, you can always mix cheese and charcuterie together into one giant appetizing feast for your guests, which opens the door to even more beautiful garnishes. For instance, crispy toasts and breadsticks are perfect with dried ham such as prosciutto, and creamy mortadella goes well with strong blue cheese on top of a piece of sourdough toast. When the party is over, and you are left with small pieces of cheese, you can make yourself a delicious fromage fort cheese spread.