Basil & Sun Dried Tomato Cream Cheese Bagel Spread is perfect for livening up plain boring cream cheese. Spread it over bagels, crackers, or toast for a delicious treat.
Any Panera fans reading this? If you’re a longtime Panera fan, then you probably remember their basil and sun dried tomato cream cheese. It was my favorite cream cheese, ever. I’d always get an Asiago bagel, sliced and toasted, with the cream cheese. It was like crack. I made a habit out of it, and I wouldn’t get anything else. THEN, they got rid of it. I was devastated. Well, that might be a little exaggeration. I remember walking in one morning and ordering my usual, and being told they don’t have the cream cheese anymore. It really threw me off my game. I don’t like sudden change. I would have preferred if they had phoned and informed me of their impending rudeness, to give me time to prepare. I likely would have rushed to all of the Panera locations and bought their remaining supply of sun dried tomato and basil cream cheese. Then I would have taken the time to go through the cream cheeses to pick out my replacement. Alas, that didn’t happen. I ended up choosing the chive and onion spread, and that’s where I’ve been ever since that dreary day several years ago. Seriously though, they got rid of my favorite cream cheese over five years ago and I am still sad about it. I have a friend Ellen who is a former GM for Panera, and it’s been brought up in conversation more than once. Panera, I will never forgive you.
Has anything like that ever happened to you? It’s soul crushing, right? I guess the next best thing is to make a homemade version. This way I get that sweet sweet satisfaction, which keeps me from plotting some kind of revenge. Thank the heavens they’ve not done away with the Asiago bagel. I’d have serious problems.
I’ve spent lots of time trying to perfect this recipe, and I think I’ve finally gotten to a point where I can be happy. There were a few times where I’d make the basil and sun dried tomato cream cheese spread and I’d end up tossing it out because it just wasn’t the same. I’ve tweaked the recipe enough through the years that this is the final result.
In this recipe, I use jarred sun dried tomatoes with herbs and a whipped cream cheese. The jarred tomatoes blend better than plain dried tomatoes, and the herbs used give it a nice flavor, reminiscent of the original spread. The sun dried tomatoes can be quite tart, so to even it out a bit I used a bit of sugar. The final touch was adding a handful of chopped basil. The spread itself lasts a couple weeks in the fridge when kept in an airtight container. It’s great on bagels, crackers, toast. Pretty much anything, really. It would even be delicious stuffed inside chicken breast. Don’t forget, Panera, I will never forgive you.
- 1 8.5 oz jar Sun Dried Tomatoes with herbs in oil
- 16 oz Whipped Cream Cheese
- handful fresh basil, chopped
- sugar to taste
- Drain the sun dried tomatoes and then grind to a paste.
- In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes and cream cheese.
- Taste and add sugar a pinch at a time to cut down the tart.
- Fold in the basil.
- Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.