Rosemary, Parmesan and Black Pepper Whole Grain Crackers

No matter how busy I am, I try to do at least a little holiday baking every year. I love it: the smell of spices, the all-day marathons in the kitchen, the happiness of those receiving the treats. This year I’m feeling more savory than sweet though, and have been browsing through my recipes for gift-worthy snacks that don’t involve an avalanche of sugar. These crackers from My New Roots — toasty, crispy, made with brown rice and quinoa — are not only addictively munchable, they are also good for you. And as easy to make as a batch of sugar cookies, I swear.

I’ve always avoided making crackers because the process always seemed a little fussy and I also have a secret obsession with plain, bland water crackers. I don’t need to make my own. The ones I buy at Trader Joe’s are fine.

But if you’re talking fancy, is-that-seriously-the-price-tag, gluten-free, protein-packed, legitimately healthy crackers — I have no problem giving those a try. I was also intrigued by the recipe, which involves blending cooked quinoa and brown rice in a food processor until it becomes a dough, bound together with soaked flax seeds.

Sarah has a ton of recommendations for flavoring the crackers; I went with fresh rosemary, finely grated Parmesan and black pepper, which also happens to be my favorite popcorn topping combo. Nutty, crisp, and herb-y, they’re hard to stop eating, especially the misshapen edges that begged to be munched on as you break up the baked crackers.

Speaking of misshapen, that would be the correct word to describe the majority of my crackers. But that’s okay. Packed into a canning jar and tied up with bakers twine, they look appealingly rustic, a savory hippie stand-out in a sea of frosted cookies.

Rosemary, Parmesan & Black Pepper Whole Grain Crackers

Yield: 3-4 dozen crackers

{ Ingredients }

1/2 cup whole flax seeds
2 cups cooked brown rice, warm
2 cups cooked quinoa, warm
1/3 cup tahini
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tamari
1 teaspoon salt

For the topping:
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper

{ Directions }

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, cover the flax seeds with 1/2 cup water and let sit for 20 minutes.

In the bowl of a food processor, place the flax seeds and soaking water, brown rice, quinoa, tahini, olive oil, tamari and salt. Process until the mixture turns into a fairly smooth dough that forms a ball in the processor. Taste dough and adjust seasoning.

Transfer 1/4 of the dough to a piece of parchment paper on a cutting board. Place another piece of parchment on top and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a thin, even layer about 1/8-inch thick. Remove the top layer of parchment and use a knife to score the dough. Sprinkle about 1/4 of the rosemary and cheese evenly over the top. Grind black pepper evenly over the dough. Transfer to a sheet pan and repeat process with the remaining dough.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the crackers are golden and very crispy. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then break along the score lines and let cool completely on a rack. If the crackers have baked unevenly, return the underbaked crackers to the oven until fully crisp. Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to one week.

• Tamari makes this recipe completely gluten-free, but if that isn't a concern for you, feel free to substitute soy sauce.

Adapted from My New Roots