We can probably all agree that accompaniments like briny olives and citrusy spreads have a place on the best cheese boards, which succeed with a variety of flavors and textures. But what about marinating cheese itself to make it the herby star of your spread? We’re here to tell you, folks: Marinate your cheese. It ups the excitement of any grazing board or picnic basket, and it’s quite simple to do.
The Best Types of Cheese to Marinate
Marinated bocconcini—those adorably tiny balls of fresh mozzarella—is a mainstay of classic antipasto platters, as we explain in the cookbook, Big Flavors from Italian America. The technique and principles, however, are adaptable to other cheeses, such as feta, goat, cheddar, and even vegan varieties. It’s also easy to play with flavor profiles using ingredients you likely already have on hand.
How to Marinate Cheese
- The key to this appetizer is to gently heat up your seasonings in olive oil. Cooking the marinade over low heat allows the spices to “bloom,” or intensify in flavor.
- Pat dry your bite-sized pieces of cheese, then add them to a bowl and pour the seasoned oil all over.
- Toss to combine, then cover and refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors meld.
- You’ll want to bring the marinated cheese back up to room temperature before serving, and swirl in some fresh olive oil at the last minute to brighten up the flavor.
Bocconcini goes swimmingly with fresh thyme or oregano, thinly sliced shallots and garlic, red pepper flakes, and a bright dash of lemon zest. Try orange zest with feta cheese for a Mediterranean twist; or use minced, fresh rosemary instead of oregano for a festive variation. Soft herbs like basil and parsley tend to brown in the refrigerator, so we avoid those flavors for this application.
Serve marinated cheese with crunchy breadsticks, pita triangles, or a sliced baguette—or simply put out some toothpicks and let your guests dig in. This flavorful, fun, and super-easy snack doesn’t need much to get the party started.