I was traveling last week with my sister, Linda. We stayed in a room for several days that had a little kitchen, complete with stovetop, fridge and microwave. We were going to be busy during the day and eating meals out a lot so we decided to pack a cooler with sandwich fixings for evening snacks. I made a vegetable cream cheese spread that was ah-mazing!
You know those little tubs of veggie cream cheese that cost a fortune in the dairy case? They are easier to make than you’d think! It was so easy, in fact, that I forgot to take my usual prep pictures. I only have a picture of the finished container. Not such a problem, it’s just a bunch of chopping and a final stir.
I didn’t use a recipe; I used the vegetables I thought would add the best flavor to my spread. I started with green onions, that was a given. They provided mild onion flavor and even some chive flavor, in their own way. I diced them very fine and put them in a bowl.
Next I used about a third of a sweet red bell pepper. I tried to grate it but that was a nightmare mess. I diced it, then chopped it again and again until the pieces were very small. I added them to the bowl.
I’m not a celery fan, but celery is a good flavor in a mix and one that I can agree on. Again I chopped it super finely and put it into my bowl.
My final vegetable choice was carrots. I wanted orange color but shredding a carrot leaves the pieces bigger than I wanted. I used my large knife to chop the life out of them after I shredded them. They were nice and fine and were added to the bowl.
Garlic was a given, and I used garlic powder rather than minced garlic. The powder allowed the garlic to be more evenly be distributed throughout the cream cheese. I also added some salt and pepper and some dried dillweed. I’d let the cream cheese set out on the counter for a few hours to reach room temp, and added that to the bowl.
I used a potato masher to incorporate all of the vegetables into the cream cheese until it looked evenly mixed. I scooped the cream cheese mixture into a smaller container, put a lid on it and refrigerated my new spread.
Carried on our trip in the cooler, then placed in the hotel fridge, we didn’t get around to using it for 2 days. By then all of the veggies had flavored the cream cheese very well. We spread it on thin bagels and added slices of cold turkey for sandwiches one evening. It was the best spread ever!
We both loved it and I think it would have been great even without the turkey. Spread on a cracker or bread, it really is satisfyingly delicious on its own. With just the right amount of onion, celery, red pepper and carrot flavors, it will be one of my favorite sandwich ingredients from now on.
A note: when I looked at several recipes to make cream cheese spreads, they usually diced the veggies and put them in a food processor with the cream cheese to mix it up. I decided not to do that, guessing that the red pepper would turn the spread pink or red when processed that way. I wanted my spread to be more white, with the colored bits here and there. You could do make the recipe either way, depending on what color you want the finished spread. If pink/red is ok with you, the food processor way of chopping and mixing is probably easier than all of the fine chopping I did.
Then a tip: I meant to finely chop some fresh jalapeno into the cream cheese spread and forgot. It was super flavorful without the jalapeno, but it would be a nice, mild pop of heat if you like things a little more spicy. Or go for a more spicy pepper and heat you sandwich up even more.
Vegetable Cream Cheese
16 ounces cream cheese; room temp
1/2 cup green onion; finely chopped
1/3 cup sweet red bell pepper; finely chopped
1/3 cup celery; finely chopped
1/3 cup carrots; shredded then finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dillweed (I used dried, you could use chopped fresh instead)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Mix all ingredients with a potato masher or fork until well mixed and refrigerate, covered.
Will last at least 2 weeks in the fridge.