You need to have appetizers when throwing a party. Not only is it a nice way to welcome your guests, but it also buys you some valuable time to either finish making dinner or keep folks happily occupied while waiting for late-comers. And though there is no shame in serving a nice piece of cheese alongside some good crackers or bread, it’s nearly as easy to kick things up a notch.
Each of the recipes below will serve eight. For extra inspiration, check out more last-minute dishes shared by the America’s Test Kitchen community.
SUN-DRIED TOMATO TAPENADE WITH FARMER’S CHEESE
Pulse 1 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and patted dry, with ¼ cup extra- virgin olive oil in a food processor until finely chopped, about 25 pulses; transfer to a small serving bowl. Pulse 1 cup pitted kalamata olives, ¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley, and 1 tablespoon rinsed capers in a food processor until finely chopped, about 10 pulses; stir into the chopped tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with 8 ounces farmer’s cheese (or goat cheese) and crackers or a thinly sliced baguette.
EASY MELTED BRIE WITH HONEY AND HERBS
Using a serrated knife, carefully slice the rind off the top of an 8-ounce wheel of firm Brie cheese; leave the rind on the sides and bottom. Place the Brie cut side up on a microwave-safe serving platter. Drizzle 2 tablespoons honey over the Brie and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon minced fresh thyme or rosemary. Microwave the cheese until it is warm and begins to bubble, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with crackers or a thinly sliced baguette.
BAKED GOAT CHEESE WITH OLIVE OIL AND HERBS
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Using dental floss, slice a chilled 12-ounce log of goat cheese into ⅓-inch-thick rounds. Shingle the cheese into a small casserole dish or shallow ovensafe bowl. Combine ⅓ cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons honey, ½ teaspoon grated orange or lemon zest, ½ teaspoon dried herbes de Provence, ¼ easpoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon pepper, and ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes in a small bowl, then pour the mixture over the cheese. Bake the cheese until the oil is bubbling and the cheese begins to brown around the edges, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm with crackers or a thinly sliced baguette.