Lunch…Or How to Turn Healthy Vegetables into Only Moderately Fattening Tastiness

When I first moved back to Louisiana, we had an overly ambitious bagel shop in the middle of my hometown. This bagel shop not only offered a plethora of fresh bagels for its patrons, but it also served several bagel-sandwich options for lunch. The lunch-hour business was an essential market for this part of town, though the local college did contribute to eateries in its’ immediate vicinity.

My sister and I loved the veggie bagel, which was basically a bagel of your choice piled high with vegetable-laden cream cheese. Considering that we were two high school girls who avoided vegetables like the plague, our love of the veggie bagel was indicative of how good it was.

Unfortunately, a bagel shop was too ambitious for both the city and the time in which we lived. This was Louisiana, after all.

Bagels?? Um, can we say Yankee much?

Bagels were far outside of our cultural influence, but more so, the bagel shop existed long before riverboat gaming, economic growth and national restaurant chains helped broaden our community’s perceptions and economy. Though we lost our one and only bagel shop, I never got over my craving for their veggie bagel. A few years ago, I stumbled across this recipe for Roasted Vegetable Cream Cheese:

Well, not only does this recipe conjure my memories of our long-lost bagel shop, but it also acts as a flavorful bagel spread, dip and overall appetizer for any event I’ve hosted. This recipe is an awesome way to sneak vegetables into the unsuspecting masses, or to wow unknowing guests. While I prefer to serve it on bagels for me, or on mini-bagels for guests, you could still serve it as a spread with crackers if you were so inclined.

Roasted Vegetable Cream Cheese

  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into rings
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into rings
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place the bell pepper, onion, garlic, zucchini, and olive oil in a medium mixing bowl and toss until the vegetables are coated. Spread the vegetables evenly on sheet pan lined with foil and place to the oven. Roast, tossing occasionally, until they are soft and are beginning to turn brown around the edges, approximately 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

3. Place the vegetables in the bowl of a food processor along with the cream cheese and process until well combined and spreadable; do not process until completely smooth.

4. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Just ignore that whole cream cheese part. You get the cool points for eating the zucchini, and that’s all that matters…

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