After years of dating my -now- husband and I have realized that when we go out to eat our favorite way to order is to just get a bunch of small plates to share, and we always start with a meat and cheese plate. Eventually we just started to do at home (because, hello, cheaper!) and now we call it a date plate.
Date plates are perfect because they encourage grazing and chatting (and sipping wine!), there is something for everyone, and -the best part- there is little to no cooking involved. Bonus: my toddler also loves date plate nights, apparently eating off a shared plate is second only to eating right off of mom or dad’s plate.
Creating the perfect date plate is all about mixing tastes and textures. You’ll want a few of each: cheese, meat, fruit, bread, nuts, spreads/dips, and any other vegetable or extra. It’s also fun to go shopping for ingredients together – and no need for this to be an expensive endeavor: buy in small quantities. Check the specialty cheese section of your local grocery store for smaller portions (there’s usually a basket of leftovers that have much smaller pieces), and see if your deli counter has cured meats then you can grab slices rather than buying the whole package. The salad bar and olive bar will have an assortment of little goodies so swing by those too. Below is a typical run down of our date plate “ingredients”.
Date Plate for 2:
Soft Cheese – like brie or camembert
Hard Cheese – I love to try a new sheep’s milk cheese but manchego is always a safe bet
Sharp/Bold Cheese – an aged cheddar or a blue cheese if you’re into that sort of thing
Prosciutto – plain and simple
Spicy or Flavored Salami – so many good infusions out there, get creative!
Something “Easy” i.e. soft and mild – like coppa or maybe a cured beef!
Nuts – 1-2 kinds, start plain and then add in candied or spiced nuts
Grapes – and berries too
Spreads/Dips – aim for at least one savory (like mustard) and one sweet (like honey)
Breads – you need a vehicle for all that yumminess, try any kind of baguette, crackers, or toasts
Extras: dried fruit, olives, marinated vegetables, pickles, bruschetta etc. (our absolute favorite is a side of artichokes)
…and don’t forget a little oil & balsamic vinegar for dipping.
You guys, it’s so easy and can really be a full meal -feels fancy with very little work, which is pretty much the best thing ever.