After the holidays, I got into this binge craving for lox and schmear, which is a mixture of softened vegan cream cheese mixed with fresh dill, spicy red onion, briny capers, a dash of pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Imagine chewy, fresh warm bagels, thick, rich, amped up softened cream cheese, and tender, slightly smoky, silky lox. Dang! There I go adding the ingredients to our grocery list again!
Mind you; not all lox are the same. Ask a few folks what they think lox is and they’ll more than likely tell you it’s the same as smoked salmon, which is not true. Smoked salmon is a preparation of either hot or cold smoking of the fish. Lox refers to salmon which has been first cured in a salt-sugar rub or brine, then cold-smoked. Taste them side-by-side; you’ll notice the difference.
The key to a great lox all hinges on fat content, smokiness, and texture, which for means Nova Scotia lox. Nova Scotia lox tends to be fattier, milder in flavor, and less smoky which is perfect for this recipe. Word to the wise, make sure all of your ingredients are fresh, especially the bagels. Take the extra time to buy them at a deli or bakery, not the grocery store. There’s nothing worse than a stale, rubbery, flavorless bagel to ruin that perfect bite.
6 ounces cold-smoked Nova Scotia Lox
2 fresh baked bagels
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup softened vegan cream cheese
1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup capers, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Zest from one lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
1) Slice the bagels into 1/2-inch medallions.
2) Combine the cream cheese, dill, red onion, capers, and lemon juice in a bowl. Season the mixture with the black pepper. I don’t add salt here because both the lox and the capers will already bring a fair level of salinity to the dish.
3) Spread the cream cheese mixture generously on the tops of each bagel slice, followed by a slice of the tomato, and then a few pieces of the lox.
4) Garnish with lemon zest, fresh dill, and serve.