I generally make a cheeseball for holidays and gatherings and I have posted some recipes on these pages. For Easter this year, I decided to go with a dip/spread, and I made it several days early so that the flavors would mellow.
You can vary it to suit the tastes and your dietary needs and of those around you. Nuts and seeds can be changed, or left out altogether. I’m making this one a little bland because I will be serving it with flavorful crackers and snacks.
Here is the recipe I made; variations in taste and vegan substitutions will be listed below:
7 oz of Neufchatel cheese (low-fat cream cheese)
1 Tbs cream
¼ -1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese,(or other moderate-to-mild white cheese)
A few drops sesame oil (no more than 1/8 tsp; sesame oil is very strong)
1 Tbsp. + 1/2 Tsp sesame seeds, divided
3/4 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp. basic herb/spice blend: “Mrs. Dash” (homemade recipe in previous post)
¼ cup sliced black olives
Mix the cream cheese and cream (or substitutes) together until smooth. Add the shredded cheese and mix. Add the sesame or other oil. Add 1 Tbsp. sesame or other seeds, (if using); mix well.
Add the lemon juice and minced garlic, the herb blend and blend well. Add the black olives. Mix well.
Place in a small covered bowl or container, sprinkle seeds around the edges and garnish with added olive or ? Chill thoroughly or for several days before serving.
This can be served with any type of cracker. Since I need to go gluten-free for relatives, I like Trader Joe’s Three Seed Beet Crackers .I am also going to offer Harvest Snaps Red Lentil Tomato Basil snack crisps, available in many major markets.
Vegan “Cream Cheese” is made with cashews. I am told that it is easy to make one’s own, but it is fairly readily available in healthier-food stores and even supermarkets. With this, you can use 2 tsp. cashew, almond or other plant-based milk instead of cream. You may add vegan ‘cheese’, or leave it out.
Finely chopped nuts can be substituted for sesame seeds, or left out completely. Walnuts, cashews, pecans and hazelnuts, (filberts), are good choices; almonds are a bit bland to stand up in this recipe.
Other oils, such as walnut or almond, or even avocado, should be substituted for sesame oil if you aren’t using sesame seeds; use 1/8 tsp.
Avocado bits make a nice addition if you leave out nuts; fold in at the end.
Pimentos, green olives, or bits of mild chilies can be used in addition to, or instead of, black olives.
I hope that you try this for your friends and family.