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As a defiant response to sad desk lunches, the Food52 team works to keep our midday meals both interesting and pretty. Each week, we'll be sharing our happiest desk lunches -- and we want to see yours, too. This post is brought to you by Triscuit.
Today: Cheese and crackers aren't just for cocktail hour. Here's how to enjoy the dynamic duo for lunch.
We all know cheese and crackers as the dynamic duo of party food, but we would like to reintroduce them as the perfect lunchtime team. Sure, cheese and crackers might seem like a snack, but with a few clever combinations, they can serve as the foundation to a noontime meal worthy of workday fantasies.
More: Want your cheese to last? Learn to store it like a pro.
To make an amazing C&C lunch -- yes, we are on a nickname basis -- all you need to do is follow this simple formula. Grab a box of your favorite crackers, add some cheese, and top with some cured meats or jams. Here's some inspiration to help you choose your ultimate cheese and cracker combination, and make a lunch worth looking forward to:
Get to know your cheese:
- First, brush up on your cheese options. Either use the lonely block of Parmesan from the back of your refrigerator, or splurge on that piece of cheese you've been coveting -- Casatica di Bufala, we're looking at you. Before you leave the house, just be sure you know what to ask for.
- Feel like skipping the store altogether? Go for the gold and whip up your own baked brie, or make cashew cheese for a vegan option.
Take a lesson in charcuterie:
- Just because we're talking office lunches doesn't mean you can't bring a beautiful spread of cured meats to accompany your cheese. Head to the store, or make your own pastrami or salami at home.
- Looking for a vegetarian option? Use pickled or cured vegetables as a replacement, starting with these watermelon radishes.
Create your ideal flavor pairing:
Yes, cheese goes with just about anything, but some combinations are better than others.
- Cheddar, apple, and bacon jam: Cheddar and apple is a well-known combination, but the addition of the slightly sweet bacon jam brings it to a whole other level -- and unlike your desk neighbor's BLT, the bacon won't crumble over your keys at first bite.
- Gruyère and spinach: We're all for working leafy greens into our lunches, especially when they're paired with creamy, nutty cheese. For bonus points, place your formed cracker in the office toaster oven until the Gruyère begins to melt and bubble.
- Ricotta, sun-dried tomatoes, and pesto: Think of this as Italian pasta on a cracker. While closing your eyes and taking a bite might not transport you to the shores of Cinque Terre, it will provide you with a mouthful of flavor.
- Gouda and dried figs: This classic sweet, aged cheese with figs is one cracker away from being a dessert -- but what's so terrible about dessert for lunch?
- Mozzarella and prosciutto: Nothing makes a weekday feel more like a weekend than a prosciutto desk-side spread, so grab a cheese knife and slice away.
- White cheddar and ham: Chances are you've enjoyed this combination on a sandwich before, so you already know the drill -- layer the cheddar (the sharper the better) with the ham and dig in.
- Chèvre, pickled chipotle peppers, and any cured meat: This lunch has all the makings of a high-end charcuterie plate. Bring extra so that you're prepared to share when colleagues catch wind of your five-star cheese plate.
- Manchego and dried apricots: The subtle sweet flavor of Manchego makes it the perfect pairing for sweet dried fruit, like apricots. (It also pairs especially well with sherry, but we'll save that one for 5 o'clock.)
Photos by Mark Weinberg and James Ransom