The Perfect Cheese Board: Easy Guide To Cheese and Food Pairings
Looking for the perfect foods to pair your cheese with, without compromising on health? Here's how to make a cheese platter healthy.
You might think that cheese and health do not go hand-in-hand because of its high-fat content, but recent research shows that not only can cheese be part of a healthy diet, but can also be good for you in some ways. Cheese is packed with some important vitamins like Vitamins A, B12 and K, and the presence of calcium and protein make it a great inclusion for some essential nutrients. The whey protein in cheese can help build stronger bones, and the conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) present in dairy fat may help ease inflammation. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2015, it was found that consumption of dairy products like cheese is connected to higher levels of the antioxidant glutathione, which prevents oxidative stress and helps maintain brain health.
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The key to adding cheese to your diet is all about balance. “For a low-fat cheese option, you can have parmesan, which is a skimmed milk cheese,” says Mausam Narang, founder of Eleftheria Cheese, an artisanal cheese company based in Mumbai. “Parmesan makes for an excellent addition to pasta and salads. Ricotta is another low-fat cheese, and it makes for a great pairing with lasagna, raviolis and healthy desserts.” Apart from choosing low-fat options, you can also make cheese-eating healthy by pairing them with fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables, wholegrain bread and crackers, and nuts and dried seeds. If you want to enjoy good quality cheese without adding it to cooked dishes, then the cheesemakers at Eleftheria advise trying the following food pairings, which can make for healthy snacks or great additions to your mealtimes as side dishes. What’s more: you can even use these cheese pairings to build your own gourmet cheese platter at home.
1. Burrata with cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and bread
The soft and creamy burrata cheese is made from fresh milk and consumed without ageing. Translated from Italian, the word “burrata” literally means “buttery”, and its mild taste and oozy texture makes it an excellent pairing with any kind of bread. The cheesemakers at Eleftheria advise serving your burrata with your choice of bread, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil, and a sprinkling of dried herbs and extra virgin olive oil for a fantastic meal.
2. Cheddar cheese with sliced apples
The sharp and flavoursome cheddar is a commonly available cheese and finds use in soups and dips. For a healthy snack, pair cheddar with some juicy slices of apples, whose flavour complements the cheese perfectly.
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3. Brunost with berry jam and ragi crackers
Modelled on the Norwegian whey cheese, the Brunost is a brown cheese with a unique flavour profile that bagged the silver prize at the International Cheese Awards in 2021. The cheese goes best with some berry jam on top of a fibre-rich ragi cracker.
4. Belper Knolle with honey and crackers
A unique and rare Swiss-style aged cheese ball, the Belper Knolle has a garlicky, peppery flavour. To eat it, grate or shave some pieces of the cheese, place it on top of a ragi cracker and top it off with a drizzle of honey.