Giada De Laurentiis' 'Secret Weapon' For Better Charcuterie Boards

Warmer weather is just around the corner, which means it's the perfect time to break out a picnic blanket and enjoy the beginning of springtime outside with your family and friends. And what could be better for a picnic than a gorgeous charcuterie board to graze from? If you're looking for inspiration for the perfect picnic spread, Giada De Laurentiis recently posted a photo on Instagram of a board filled with toasted bread, green olives, meats, a soft cheese, and a bright orange condiment that makes the whole photo pop.

De Laurentiis says that this condiment, a jar of mostarda, is the "secret weapon for making every charcuterie board next level." Although this might look like a sweet jam, mostarda actually has a bit of a kick. In her Instagram post, De Laurentiis included a link to buy a jar of Dario Cecchini mostarda from her blog Giadzy, which describes the condiment as "sweet, salty, and savory."

According to The Spruce Eats, mostarda is an Italian condiment that's "basically a spicy relish or chutney." It's typically made from fresh or dried fruit along with spices and syrup. The Spruce Eats reports that what makes mostarda different from other condiments is the inclusion of mustard powder or mustard seeds. The mostarda that De Laurentiis recommends is made from red peppers and chili peppers. Although mustard isn't in the ingredients list, the peppers likely add a strong flavor.

How to make mostarda

Don't like peppers? Instead of buying the mostarda Giada De Laurentiis recommends, you can make your own at home. La Cucina Italiana has six different mostarda recipes featuring fruits and vegetables like cherries, tomatoes, and squash. There's other spices aside from mustard you can use in mostarda, like black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon. De Laurentiis' recommendation combines red peppers with sugar, chili pepper, and red wine vinegar.

Food52 explains how to make mostarda without a step-by-step recipe, but notes that the process can be a multi-day affair, so keep that in mind if you choose this method. The first day, you'll need to prepare your fruits, whether they're fresh or dried. On the next day, you'll pour the syrup created from the fruits and add your spices. Then, boil the syrup to thicken it and either let the syrup rest another day and repeat, or go ahead and combine the fruit with the syrup. Once the mixture simmers, add a bit of vinegar and white wine (or wine vinegar) and simmer a bit more. The mustard goes in at the end.

Once you master mostarda, you'll be well on your way to building the perfect charcuterie board.