Keeping your calorie intake in-check over the festive season can be challenging with all the extra social gatherings, parties and celebrations.
But now you can relax, with the knowledge that one of the most delicious and decadent foods, synonymous with entertaining, is not as naughty as you might think.
The Fresh and Light Board
The Cheese: Camembert, mozzarella, bocconcini, ricotta, labne.
Cheese often gets a bad rap because of its fat content, but science has established that cheese is not only good for us, it can actually help with weight management and maintaining lean muscles. This is on top of all its other natural goodness – cheese is high in protein and jam-packed with calcium for bone health, vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin, phosphorous and zinc.
For the perfect light and fresh summer cheese platter, try choosing fresher styles like ricotta, cottage, mozzarella and bocconcini (great for scattering on the platter!) not only are they terrific with summer fruits and crisp vegetables they’re also naturally lower in fat than harder cheeses.
Ricotta is a stand out winner. Not only does it contain all the other nutritional benefits of cheese, it’s a great source of whey protein (11g per 100g serving) which can help tired muscles recover after sport.
Adding luscious labne, will give your board a boost in texture and tangy flavour. It’s made from yoghurt and comes with all the health benefits too.
And to treat your tastebuds you can’t go past a creamy camembert! You might be surprised to know that camembert actually contains less fat than blue or cheddar cheese. Now, we’re not talking the double or triple cream varieties here, but a little of the good stuff can’t be a bad thing!
The Accompaniments: Pair camembert with slices of fresh nectarine or peach for a fresh take on crackers. Generous helpings of fresh summer fruits like raspberries also work wonders to brighten up your board and can be used as a base for your cheese instead of crackers. Spice up ricotta and impress your guests by baking it in a hot oven scattered with olive oil, lemon rind, parsley and fresh chilli, for about 10 minutes.
If you’re feeling adventurous, labne is easy to make in your own kitchen and is delicious smeared onto fresh vegetables.
Pair bocconcini or fresh mozzarella styles with fresh cantaloupe and thinly sliced prosciutto.
Balance out your board with a sprinkling of kale chips and crunchy summer vegetables like baby carrots, which will again add colour to your spread.
The Tipple: Serve your board with glasses of iced mint water or unsweetened iced tea, like jasmine or green tea, for the perfect light summer indulgence. Infuse with vodka if you’re enjoying in the evening.
Opt for fresher cheeses which are lighter and great for hot weather.
Replace bread sticks and crackers with fruit and vegetables. The sweetness and crunch will complement the fresh cheese.
Take matured cheeses out of the fridge one hour prior (20 to 30 minutes on a hot day) to allow it to come to room temperature before serving to get the full impact of their texture and flavour. Fresh cheeses should be served cool, so only take them out of the fridge 5-10 minutes before serving.
What you’ll need:
Baked Ricotta with olive oil, herbs and chilli, fresh mozzarella with prosciutto and cantaloupe, labne balls with fresh baby vegetables and kale chips, camembert with raspberries and fresh nectarines, with flaxseed or wholegrain crackers to serve.
Make your own: Easy Labne
Ingredients: 1kg full fat Greek yoghurt, pinch of salt, muslin cloth
Combine yoghurt and salt, spoon into the muslin cloth and twist into a closed bundle. Place the bundle into a sieve sitting over a large bowl.
Allow to drain in the fridge for 36-48 hours, stirring each day until very thick. Discard excess liquid.
Roll into balls using oiled hands, and drizzle with olive oil to serve
For more information on entertaining with Australian cheese this festive season, visit Legendairy and download your free copy of Cheese Please! – your complete guide to choosing, storing and serving Australian cheese.