Some weeks, we have no problem improvising, but others, the luxury of having a fridge stocked with convenience is a must. Enter these spreads. First up, this little whipped peanut butter number. It's mild, cool, creamy, studded with raisins, and begs to be sandwiched in a bagel. What's not to love?
Note that the peanut butter flavor gets toned down considerably in this condiment while still giving great texture. So even if you've never been a big fan of slathering straight peanut butter on a bagel or toast, you may want to give this one a try.
Cinnamon-Raisin Whipped Peanut Butter Spread
yields a generous 1/2 cup
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (look for one that contains nothing but peanuts)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 TBSP coffee liqueur
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1-2 TBSP raisins, to taste
Add all ingredients except raisins to a food processor. Process, scraping as needed, until the mixture pulls away from the bottom and sides and coheres into a shaggy ball. Add raisins, pulse to incorporate, and chill until ready to use.
Next up: this has been our absolute favorite dinner lately: elegant looking, but hearty, and nothing could be simpler. We put together this spread using fresh fruit, greens dressed in our favorite hummus, store-bought multi-grain crackers, and this Garden Tofu Spread. This one owes an enormous debt to Isa Chandra Moskowitz's herb spread in Vegan Brunch. Our version tweaks her ratios a bit, trades her fresh herbs for finely chopped veg, and takes the cost down another healthy notch by using pepitas instead of cashews. (Her herb version is less expensive if you have a large herb garden, but if you're relying on a supermarket, it gets pretty frisky with your wallet.) The result is versatile and crazy-handy. And naturally, you can sandwich it in a bagel, too. Or toss it with pasta salad. Or most anything, really.
One note: the spread must sit in the refrigerator for a few hours before eating to let the flavors, and even texture, come together. If you taste it immediately after processing, you'll find the pepitas are too assertive, and everything else seems bland. But a few hours later, the seeds soften, the whole thing gets creamier, and the garden bit really begins to come through. This remains a mild spread--hence the versatility--but letting it rest before serving really makes a difference.
Garden Tofu Spread
yields about 1 pound, adapted from Vegan Brunch
1/2 cup raw, unsalted, hulled pepitas
1 large carrot (about 2 oz total weight), peeled, trimmed, and roughly chopped
1 very small poblano pepper, or half a large (about 2.5 oz total weight), trimmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
2 scallions, white and tender green parts, thinly sliced
14 oz extra-firm tofu, drained
2 TBSP nutritional yeast
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp fine sea or kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Add the pepitas to a food processor and process into small crumbs. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Add the carrot and poblano to the processor and process until very finely chopped. Add all other ingredients, including pepita crumbs, and process for about a minute, until smooth, scraping the bowl as needed. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least a few hours before serving.