Growing up, I enjoyed the traditional bagel and cream cheese combo. It wasn’t until I was in college when I learned people were crazy enough to put smoked salmon on top!
The little insecure gourmand in me did a little dance. Oh the possibilities, I thought to myself.
Fast forward 10+ years and I’ve embraced a myriad of bagel acourtremont. Cream cheese is simply the base for something better. It’s a blank canvas to hold the toppings in place.
For this platter, I keep with many of the traditional garnishes while adding a few extra new ideas. Have you ever tried sweet pepper relish with cream cheese? No? I advise you remedy that pronto.
The timing of this Art of the Platter post couldn’t have been better. Our neighbors just had their first baby a couple weeks ago, and I knew these platters—after I had a chance to photograph them—were going to make a perfect gift. It enabled them to craft a variety of small meals or snacks on the fly during the day (or at the inevitable 3 a.m. waking).
Also, if you’re hosting a casual brunch and have no clue what people like to eat, these type of platters are perfect for satiating everyone’s tastebuds. Including the egg salad as one of the spreads opens up more combinations of ingredients while feeling like a real breakfast at the same time.
Oh and continue reading to find out a bonus surprise garnish (not pictured) that’s essential to this particular platter.
For easy spreading, I opted to use whipped cream cheese. Keeping it pure, I sprinkled some chopped chives on top, instead of mixing it in.
Canvas No. 2 is a classic egg salad. I turned to my copy Alice Waters’ cookbook, The Art of Simple Food, as my guide. I made some slight changes like omitting the capers, since I already had some on the platter. Instead of a coarse chop, I finely diced the cooked eggs to create more of a spread vs. a salad. I love how this bright herbaceous salad lets the main ingredient shine . . . egg.
I chose to feature three different bagels for the platter: plain, marble rye, and onion. I went down the savory route for this platter. One of these days I’ll have to design a sweeter version using cinnamon raisin bagels. That’ll be fun!
This is where the fun begins. You can assemble as many or as few options as you want. Not a fan of arugula? Try baby spinach or some flat leaf parsley to add some greenery. No matter what, be sure to have some extras of everything so you can replenish the tray. Or, if you’re expecting a crowd, consider making multiple trays of toppings to have enough for everyone. This way you won’t have to worry about restocking the ingredients.
- Fresh Tomatoes
- Baby Arugula (or Spinach)
- Sweet Pepper Relish
- Pickled Red Onions
- English Cucumber
- Smoked Wild Salmon
- Lemon Slices
A Few Quick Tips
- Slicing the Bagels — Create smaller portions of bagels so you can enjoy assembling different combinations of ingredients. Even mini bagels are fun for such an occasion.
- Cucumber — Cut the slices extra thin so your guests have enough room to add some more toppings on top. If someone’s a cucumber-holic, they can always add more to their bagel.
- Avocado — Wait until the last minute to slice these babies. And have a small bowl of water and lime juice (lemon juice is fine too) ready as you cut them. Dip each slice in the lime water (2 parts water, 1 part lime juice) before placing on the tray. They will stay greener longer.
- Radishes — Same as the cucumber . . . the thinner the better. I use my mandolin slicer for these little guys.
- Onions — Traditionally you see slices of red raw onion on bagel platters. If that’s your jam, then go for it! You can always pour some boiling water over them to cut down on their bite. For me? I was inspired to make a small batch of pickled red onions, using the recipe from the original Moosewood Cookbook. I didn’t have enough ingredients for the original recipe, so I cut it in half and posted it below.
- Tomatoes — I like to sprinkle a little sea salt on the fresh tomatoes to slightly enhance the flavor. I only do this for tomatoes that aren’t in season. If you’ve got tomatoes going from the vine straight to the platter, then no salt is needed. Also, you’re really sweet to share such freshly harvested gems with your guests.
- Meat — Just in case you have guests that are vegetarian I would recommend keeping the bacon and salmon together on one side of the platter. Or, create a second platter that showcases only the vegetables.
- Small bowls — As you’ll see in the photos, I cut the bases off of fresh peppers to use as my bowls. I saw this at a wedding years ago, and took a mental photograph to save for later. Note: If they are a little wobbly, take a paring knife and slice a small sliver off the bottoms of the peppers. Be careful to not slice too high or you’ll make a hole in your edible bowl.
I almost forgot to mention that bonus surprise garnish . . . it’s a bottle of the “Everything but the Bagel Seasoning Blend” — Available Online. Pretty genius, right?
Egg Salad + Bacon + Arugula + Capers
Cream Cheese + Cucumber + Red Pepper Relish + Avocado
Egg Salad + Salmon + Pickled Onions + Capers + Splash of Lemon
Cream Cheese + Tomato + Bacon + Avocado
The possibilities are endless . . . and delicious. Enjoy!