This is the easiest vegan carrot lox recipe ever, for a delicious bagel and (preferably vegan) cream cheese sandwich! Many contemporary recipes for vegan carrot lox involve a lot of steps, and in some cases, many days, to accomplish. This simplified version doesn’t even require a knife, let alone a mandoline slicer.
It starts with wavy-cut carrots, which are the perfect size, shape, and thickness to serve as a lox substitute.
How did the classic trio of bagels, cream cheese, and lox come to be, and who invented it? No one really knows for sure, but it’s widely accepted that this combo is as American as apple pie.
Growing up as part of an extended Jewish family, I can scarcely remember any special occasion at which bagels with cream cheese and lox weren’t part of the buffet table.
The combination of yeasty, tangy, smoky, and briny flavors melded into a comfort food that becomes a permanent fixture in a child’s sense memories.
Veganizing classic Jewish recipes
For Sephardic Jews, revisiting traditional dishes is a cinch, since these Middle Eastern and Mediterranean-based cuisines have so many already-vegan specialties, filled with grains, legumes, vegetables, and fresh and dried fruits.
But when vegan Ashkenazi Jews want to revisit old favorites, there’s a whole lot of adapting to do! Still, it can be done, and done well! This site’s matzo ball soup, eggless challah, latkes, and even meaty classics like cholent.
Wavy-cut carrots are a clever quick way to make vegan lox
Lose the lox!
There are some good reasons to avoid Nova lox. Those of us of the strict vegan persuasion, as well as those who are allergic to seafood, will appreciate this alternative.
There are other plant-based seafood varieties to try, if you don’t want to DIY. Here are Plant-Based Seafood Alternatives You Need to Try.
Flavor notes and vegan cream cheese
Smoky seasoning is the main flavor note here, and if you’d like to add a fishy flavor, nori seaweed (which you know from sushi) is given as an option (see this site’s Guide to Nori — with 15 Recipes That Arent’s Sushi).
Here are a few brands of vegan cream cheese that are nearly indistinguishable from their dairy counterparts. Look for them in natural foods stores or well-stocked supermarkets:
- Follow Your Heart
- Kite Hill
- 8 ounces wavy-cut carrots
- 1 tsp liquid smoke or 1 Tbsp BBQ seasoning
- 1 tsps salt
- 2 tsps natural granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsps lemon juice
- 1 sheet nori, cut into pieces, or 6 pieces nori snacks, optional
- Cook the carrots in a medium skillet with just enough water to cover until just tender-crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes (they’ll soften up a bit more while marinating, so don’t overcook!). Drain and rinse until just warm.
- Combine the BBQ seasoning, salt, and sugar in a mug filled with water. Microwave for about 45 seconds, then stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
- Combine this mixture in a small flat container with the olive oil, lemon juice, and optional nori and stir together. Add the carrots and enough additional water to completely immerse them.
- Cover the container and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours or so.
- Serve on bagels with cream cheese, and any of the optional ingredients: sprigs of fresh dill, onion, tomatoes, and capers.
- Cook time doesn't include marinating time, of course!
- BBQ seasoning is available in the spice section of supermarkets. McCormick® Grill Mates has several flavor-packed choices. Liquid smoke is a bit harder to come by; I’ve had more luck finding it in natural foods stores, though well-stocked supermarkets might offer it in the spice section, as well.
- Using nori in the marinade results in a surprisingly fishy flavor, so if you’re not a fan of fishiness, simply omit this ingredient.
Photos above: Evan Atlas. Originally published in Jewish Food Experience, reprinted by permission.
For more DIY plant-based seafood dishes …
Here are more Jewish vegan recipes