"Cheese and crackers" are soooo overdone. Meticulously arranged plates, weird knives, a scattering of grapes: boring. So instead, here are 11 recipes that will make everyone think you're the second coming of the Barefoot Contessa. Recipes all make 12 crackers.
1. Bruschetta Crackers
Yes, bruschetta is the equivalent of Italian salsa, but when done right it's a bright medley that makes you forget you'll be reeking of garlic and onion for the rest of the afternoon.
Dice 2 large tomatoes, ¼ of a red onion, one clove of garlic, and slice a handful of basil into ribbons. Mix all the ingredients together with one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt, leaving ¼ of the basil aside for garnish. Spoon the mixture onto the cracker and garnish with the remaining basil.
2. Brooklyn BLT Crackers
It's not really a BLT, but it's better, because it has kale, maple syrup, and bacon.
Fry up 6 pieces of bacon, getting them as crispy as possible. While it's cooking, wash your kale and chop it into roughly 4 inch ribbons. Cut up 12 slices of sharp cheddar cheese (the real stuff). After the bacon has crisped, lie on paper towels and set aside. Take a few handfuls of your kale and quickly wilt in the bacon fat, drizzling 1 teaspoon of maple syrup over it. Toss the kale so it's fully coated in bacon fat and syrup, and assemble your cracker.
3. Parsley and Lemon Cream Cheese With Cucumber
If one were to put Kate Middleton on a cracker, this would be it — simple, elegant, and a little bit fancy.
Roughly chop a bunch of flat-leafed parsley and throw into a bowl, leaving some to the side for garnish. Stir in about 8 ounces of cream cheese and the juice from one lemon. Mix well. Thinly slice one cucumber and assemble your cracker cream cheese first, then cucumber, finishing with some parley garnish.
4. Guac and Crackers (With Queso Fresco)
Guac and chips is a trap. There is never, repeat, never enough guac. Guac-to-chip ratios are always dismal, so here is a recipe to ensure you get optimal portions of the green stuff.
In a large mixing bowl, mash two large avocados. Finely chop a bunch of cilantro and half an onion and add to the bowl. Mix together adding the juice from 1 ½ limes, a healthy glug of olive oil, and a handful of crumbled queso fresco (about half a cup). Add salt and pepper and spoon onto crackers, topping with a cilantro leaf.
5. Chorizo and Tapenade Crackers
This is for the meat lover. These crackers can be topped with either tapenade or grainy mustard. Dealer's choice.
Heat a non-stick pan on medium/high heat. While the pan is warming up, cut your sausage (I got chicken chorizo) on the diagonal. Once heated, coat the pan with a thin layer of olive oil and begin to fry the sausages, counting three slices per cracker. Once fully cooked, stack the sausages and top with tapenade or grainy mustard.
6. Caprese Cracker
This mini mozzarella salad is exactly what you think it is. And yes, it's delicious.
Grab three plum tomatoes and slice thinly crosswise so you have 12 slices. Place your tomatoes on top of the crackers, top with mini bocconcini, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and finish with basil leaves.
7. Sweet Potato Puree and Cilantro Cracker
Sweet potato is a magical thing. This root vegetable is good for you, delicious, easy to cook, and pairs with just about anything. You win.
Turn your oven to 400°F. While it preheats, put two sweet potatoes on a sheet of aluminum, or on a baking tray (poke them with a fork a few times so they don't explode). Roast for 30 minutes, or until fully cooked. Once they're soft all the way through, remove from the oven and remove the skins. Mash in a large bowl with olive oil and salt to taste. Roughly chop half a bunch of cilantro and whisk into a separate bowl with olive oil, pepper, and salt. Spoon your sweet potato mash onto a cracker, and top with the cilantro oil mix.
8. Lox Cracker
It's like bagels and lox but conveniently placed on an edible plate you can shove into your face.
Finely chop 2 ounces of dill and put into a mixing bowl along with 8 ounces of cream cheese, salt, and the juice from one lemon. Top your cracker with the cream cheese mixture and finish off with a small piece of smoked salmon and additional dill for garnish.
9. Ricotta and Honey Cracker
Cheese and honey is one of those matches that makes you feel really, really bad for the lactose intolerant people in your life.
While it's incredibly easy to make ricotta on your own, you can also use store bought. Just ladled some onto a cracker, pour honey on top, and you're good to go. Bonus points if you can find honeycomb.
10. Hummus and Olive Crackers
Hummus, the dip that lurks at every dinner party, and in every fridge. This is for when you've run home from work, completely blanked on that "casual" dinner you planned with friends, and are scrambling to assemble things that resemble food in 20 minutes.
To spruce up this spread, take your favorite olives or sundried tomatoes — pictured are castelvetrano olives, Sicilian olives that are more delicious than anything in the world — and place on top of your hummus for garnish.
11. Goat Cheese and Fig Crackers
This final cracker is simple but one of the most classic flavor combinations ever. Romans used to eat figs and cheese, so when you're eating this you may call yourself a historian.
Put a dollop of goat cheese on a cracker, finely slice dry figs to place on top, consume. And voila — a fancy, adult Fig Newton.