You might want to go with a big meal or even out to a restaurant for Valentine’s day, but there is a simpler option—a romantic Valentine’s charcuterie board.
Why a charcuterie board?
These simple meals are easy to make, delicious, and can be incredibly romantic. They are also relatively light and are a great way to feel better after the meal than when you started it.
Not to mention the fruit and vegetables of a great charcuterie board not only taste fantastic, they’re also incredibly healthy.
In this guide you’ll learn:
- How to design a great charcuterie board
- Which aphrodisiac foods make a great Valentines meal
- And much more…!
What's in this Guide?
What Is A Charcuterie Board?
Charcuterie boards might be getting more popular, but don’t worry if you aren’t entirely sure what they are. These delicious meals aren’t very common in restaurants, and they’re very different from the classic meals you might make at home.
Basically, a charcuterie board is a meal made from finger foods like fresh chopped vegetables, sliced or whole fruits, bread, crackers, sauces and or spreads, and nuts.
A classic charcuterie board also includes protein, usually dried and aged meats, but for this article we’re going to focus on a vegetarian version.
Three reasons, everyone’s taste in protein is different and it’s easy to add a meat protein to a vegetarian charcuterie board. Also, vegetarian charcuterie boards are lighter and more refreshing, plus the bright flavors of the fruits and vegetables can feel especially romantic for Valentine’s.
Lastly, vegetarian options are more accessible to people with dietary restrictions or who are observing religious dietary requirements.
This way everyone can enjoy a charcuterie board.
Why Should You Consider a Valentine’s Charcuterie Board?
There are a lot of reasons why this might be the perfect meal for your next Valentine’s day. Great charcuterie boards are tasty, easy to prepare, and can be made for almost any budget.
Plus, since most people don’t have charcuterie boards on their normal menu, it’s easy for this meal to feel like a special holiday treat.
Here are a few more reasons you might want to consider a charcuterie board for your next Valentine’s day or any romantic evening.
It’s Easy To Include Aphrodisiacs:
One thing about charcuterie boards is that it’s incredibly easy to include aphrodisiac foods that help set the mood.
Don’t worry, I’ll give you some specific examples in the next section, along with some pairings that can help take your charcuterie board to the next level.
Aphrodisiacs might not be guaranteed to get you both in the mood, but it’s a great way to encourage romance. The exact effect of these foods isn’t entirely understood, but delicious food and a romantic meal go hand in hand.
Charcuterie Boards Don’t Take a Ton Of Time
Unlike other romantic meals, charcuterie boards don’t take a lot of prep work to get them ready. Raw fruits and vegetables are easy to slice and prepare, and you can use store-bought bread, condiments, and other additions to keep the prep time low.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can even make your own bread. Check out my article Bread-making 101 that includes the supplies you’ll need to make your own bread, and easy bread to get started!
Plus, a great charcuterie board doesn’t require a lot of cooking skills. Almost anyone can prepare this meal and have it turn out fantastic.
The limited prep time leaves more time for your other celebrations. Not to mention that preparing your charcuterie board together can have a romance all its own.
Charcuterie Boards Can Be Incredibly Thoughtful
One of the things about a charcuterie board that isn’t always true for other meals is that they can be an incredibly thoughtful way to show your loved one that you care about them and know what they like.
Is your partner’s favorite berry raspberries? Including fresh raspberries or a raspberry jam in your charcuterie board is a fantastic way to show that you care. Does your partner love artisan bread? Grab a couple of individual sized loaves of specialty bread, or even bake your own!
Does your partner love wine? Consider pairing a fine vintage with your charcuterie to elevate all of the flavors. Or pick out a bubbly for you and your special one to celebrate your love together.
Read More >> How to Hold a Champagne Glass
Customizing your charcuterie to your partner’s taste will really show that you care. That can help set the mood better than any aphrodisiac.
Check out this video below where she walks through how easy it is to create a cheese board whether you’re more on a budget for $18 or want to splurge at $120. I also love the tips she provides on making your cheese board visually appealing with flowers and herbs. Note that the video does include meat but you can easily skip over that if you are staying true to making it vegetarian!
Romantic Charcuterie Foods
All of these foods are chosen because they are aphrodisiacs, fresh and delicious, or because they feel rich and luxurious when you eat them. Choosing 1-3 options from each of these lists will generally create a well-balanced meal.
Before we dive into the lists I want to take a moment to talk about aphrodisiacs. These delicious foods are thought to increase romantic feelings in the people who eat them. Specifically, ehem, bedroom romance.
Of course there is a lot of controversy about those claims, and a lot of aphrodisiacs are well known so it’s difficult to study the subject objectively. Too many people will recognize that they are being asked to eat aphrodisiac foods even if they aren’t told what the foods are.
Still, aphrodisiacs tend to be full of flavor, delicious to eat, and your partner might even appreciate the thought if they realize what you’re doing.
Here is a list of the aphrodisiacs I’ve listed in the following food groups:
- Rosemary bread (specifically the rosemary)
- Lavender and Honey loaf (honey)
- Sea Salt and Pepper Crackers (black pepper)
- Fresh Berries
- Pomegranate Seeds
- Marinated artichoke hearts
- Roasted bell peppers
- Pretty much every cheese
- Fig Spread
- Mango Chutney (both Mango and Chili peppers are aphrodisiacs)
As you can see there are a lot of aphrodisiacs to choose from!
Bread and Cracker Options
Bread is as varied as the people who eat it, so I recommend thinking about your own taste and your partner’s before you decide on an option. It’s important to choose bread or crackers that will pair well with your other foods.
Here are a few options:
- Fresh French Bread
- A sliced Baugette
- Rosemary bread
- Lavender and honey loaf (adventurous eaters only)
Crackers are a good alternative to bread, especially if you’re including a lot of spreadable cheeses in your charcuterie, but aren’t including other condiments like jams or honey.
Some good options include:
- Sea salt and cracked pepper crackers
- Club crackers
- Rosemary crackers
- Any savory flavored thin option
It’s generally better to stick to savory flavors instead of sweet ones because they can help make vegetarian charcuterie boards more satisfying. A lot of the other flavors of your charcuterie board will likely be sweet, so savory crackers and bread can help balance your meal.
Nuts are a great way to add a little protein and a different set of textures to your meal. They’re a source of healthy fats and proteins and can be prepared sweet or savory depending on your needs.
You probably only need one or two varieties of nuts for a couple’s charcuterie board, so don’t go too crazy on these.
Here are some of the best Valentine’s options:
- Cashews (recommended, the sweet smooth flavor of cashews can feel particularly luxurious)
For a Valentine’s Charcuterie, you might find yourself reaching for more fruits than normal, especially if you’re also including a chocolate or vanilla sauce with your meal. That’s perfectly understandable, but try to make sure you leave some room for vegetable and nut options since they help provide more nutrients and long-lasting energy.
- Fresh Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries)
- Pears (fresh or stewed)
- Pomegranate seeds (or juice, can be an aphrodisiac like berries)
- Sliced banana
- Cherries (pre-pitted or with a bowl for cherry pits)
Vegetables provide a lot of variety in taste, texture, and nutrients. Try to choose vegetable options that aren’t a part of your normal diet.
- Cherry tomatoes
- Marinated artichoke hearts
- Asparagus (try marinated with mint, or soaked in mint tea before cooking)
- Sliced red or yellow bell pepper
- Roasted bell peppers
- Mushroom pate
- Olives (whichever types are your favorite)
Savory and Sweet Cheese Options
Cheeses can often be the star of a charcuterie board, so I recommend that this is where you really look for high-quality options. Even if you only offer one or two cheeses on your charcuterie, you can still make it something special if you’ve purchased high-quality options.
Here are some options for savory cheeses:
- Smoked Gouda
- White cheddar (I recommend Dubliner)
- Sheep or goat cheese
- Herbed havarti
- Fresh mozzarella (especially if served with fresh basil or a pesto)
Here are some sweeter cheese options:
- Brie (or similar soft white cheeses)
- Mascarpone or cream cheese
- Fruit studded Stilton (comes in many varieties, but chili mango, pear, and blueberry can be especially good options)
- Comte (traditionally savory, but pairs especially well with fresh fruits)
Read More >> How to use a Cheese Knife? (3 Methods)
These are things that aren’t required for a charcuterie board, but that can really take your meal to the next level and add a romantic flair.
Like the other foods on this list, it’s best to stick to a couple of these options so that there isn’t too much food and so you can fully enjoy the whole menu.
- Wine or Mead
- Chocolate sauce (or chocolate fondue for the ambitious)
- Honey (plain, whipped, or flavored with fruit)
- Fruit jam or preserves (fruit and chili spreads work especially well)
- Fig spread
- Mango chutney
Non-food additions like a romantic movie, candles, and soft music can help complete your evening.
Prepping Your Charcuterie Board
Prepping a charcuterie board should only take a few minutes.
First, you’ll need to wash all of the fresh fruit and vegetable options.
Next slice fruits, vegetables, and any hard cheeses. Arrange these foods on a large platter cutting board, or even a couple of regular plates. If you’re using any sauces, condiments, or spreads, place them on the same board or platter.
Next, you should make sure there are serving utensils for anything that needs it.
Charcuterie boards are better if you don’t muddle the flavors by mixing different foods unintentionally. All of your spreads and soft cheeses should have their own knife.
If you’re including anything that can’t be eaten with your fingers, you should also make sure you have a fork or spoon for each item.
My Final Thoughts On Preparing a Valentine’s Charcuterie Board
The most important part of any Valentine’s celebration is enjoying time with your partner, everything else is just frosting on the cake.
Making an amazing charcuterie board might be one way you celebrate and show your love for your partner, but even a simple charcuterie board can be a fantastic celebration of your love if you have a wonderful day together.
I’ve chosen these foods specifically because they are delicious, many of them are aphrodisiacs, and because they feel luxurious even though they can often be more affordable than going to a restaurant for your Valentine’s meal.
Happy Valentine’s day, and whatever you end up doing to celebrate, I hope it’s a wonderful holiday!