No more boring party trays! Meat and cheese, unite: you are about to become that jolly old man in the red suit that runs around with reindeer! This festive Santa meat and cheese tray will delight elves of all ages. Who wouldn’t enjoy a little edible Kris Kringle?
We created this artful Santa meat and cheese tray with 1 kind of meat, 3 types of cheese, a handful of crostini bread pieces, and some cherry tomatoes, basically. [You will see later in this post why you might want to have a little pesto and chopped tomatoes handy.] If you don’t like some of those ingredients, no worries. Later in this post, I’ll offer up some ideas for alternatives ingredients.
Ideally, you should use a long rectangular or oval tray to arrange this on. If you don’t have one that is in Christmas season colors, use a cookie sheet and line it with foil and disguise it with greenery of an edible variety — kale leaves, parsley, even lettuce would work. OR, wrap your cookie sheet in beautiful wrapping paper that will contrast nicely against the Santa face.
- 1 log of summer sausage or similar cured meat, sliced about 1/4″ thick
- 1 8 oz. block of white cheddar cheese, thinly sliced lengthwise,then cut into squares
- fresh mozzarella, cut into little pieces (we could have used more than we had)
- Cheeseball for the Pom Pom on Santa’s hat (make it by mixing an 8 ounce pkg. of cream cheese with 1 tsp. Good Season dressing mix and 1 packet of Splenda — once it is mixed, just use part of it to form the ball. All of it would be overkill and would not be proportional)
- 9 or 10 crisp crostini a (we used sea salt flavor, but choose anything that will taste good with this meat and cheese. You’ll have a small tray of them hovering nearby.)
- 1 red cherub tomato for the lips (or you could use red pepper, whether fresh or roasted, or the outside skin of a radish)
- 1/2 of a red or yellow cherry tomato for the nose
- For the eyes, we used slices of radish on bottom, topped with small rounds of summer sausage with a black peppercorn added to the top of each. We fashioned “eyebrows” from summer sausage rind to which we had left some of the meat attached.)
Stack 4 or 5 crostini in a horizontal line to form the eye area of the face. Place the eyes on. (You could also use green onion slices, olive slices, even big dollops of spicy brown mustard, for the eyes. Your choice!)
Stick the “nose” on (the cherry tomato half). It will go between the eyes, down a little bit, still on the crostini. If you don’t have a cherry tomato half, you could use a slice of carrot. Thinking about it now, and looking at the picture, I realize that it would have been best for Santa’s nose to be red — from the cold, ya know. Even a smaller slice of the reddish salami would work.
Leave some space under the nose before you place a line of about 3 crostini. Those crostini will form the platform on which you will place your mouth. For this particular mouth, I cut a cherub tomato into quarters, lengthwise, then used two of the slivers as the top and bottom lips. An alternative would have been to use pimiento or thinly sliced red pepper.
Arrange the summer sausage slices as though they are a red hat on top of Santa’s head. Place the pieces of white cheddar on top as a “brim.”
Next, arrange your white mozzarella pieces into a beard — above and below the lips. I wish ours had been somewhat fuller. (It is also a really good idea to have some pesto and chopped tomato nearby so that the mozzarella can be placed by your guests on crostini so, with pesto, or tomatoes, or both, spooned over the top.)
Add your little cheese ball for the puff on Santa’s hat.
This closeup shows you more of the detail in the eyes and lips. You will have so much fun creating your own Santa meat and cheese tray! It goes together very quickly and is amazing-looking!
Suggestions for alternatives:
- Use pepperoni or pre-sliced salami in place of the beef summer sausage or salami log
- Choose asiago or other hard Italian slicing cheese in place of the white cheddar slices
- Buy your mozzarella in little balls so you don’t have to slice up mozzarella logs — OR use a different type of cheese, such as monterey jack or pepper jack and use cubes for the beard, rather than slices
- Buy a tub of boursin cheese or other thick white cheese spread at your supermarket and create a big scoop to use as the pom pom on Santa’s hat
Did you have other ideas and use them to make your own version? We’d love to hear about it!