Tortilla cream cheese pinwheels are a simple little appetizer perfect for any sort of casual gathering: baby showers, church potlucks, backyard barbeques. But for me, they're graduation party food, evoking the May and June of my high school senior year when my boyfriend and I spent the weekends crisscrossing our hometown in his Oldsmobile. The car was a hand-me-down from his grandparents, but the hacked-together stereo system was all his. We always drove with the music blasting and windows rolled down, because the consolation prize of my incorrigibly straight hair is its imperviousness to wind tousling. We navigated via MapQuest printouts to the weekend's graduation party, usually held in a garage festooned with balloons and streamers in our high school's blue-and-gold color scheme and maybe a poster board of baby pictures if the mom was particularly crafty.
The food was simple, the sort of thing you feed to crowds of relatives and hordes of teenagers: trays of cold cuts, freshly grilled hot dogs, bowls of potato chips. There was usually a grocery store sheet cake, thick with a layer of sugary icing and "Class of 2005" in loopy script. One party memorably featured a candy bar, chopped apple, and Cool Whip concoction that could only be referred to as a "salad" in the upper Midwest. And of course, there were tortilla cream cheese pinwheels.
These are typically made with slices of turkey or ham, but in my vegetarian version I've swapped in diced green onions and red pepper. These take a bit of planning--you have to soften the cream cheese for a few hours beforehand, and then refrigerate the assembled tortilla rolls overnight--but the actual hands-on preparation time is minimal. I prefer spinach tortillas for the extra color and flavor, but you can use plain flour tortillas as well.
- 2 (8-ounce) packages garden vegetable cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- white and light green parts of a bunch of green onions, diced (about 1/4 cup)
- half a red bell pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 8 (10-inch) spinach flavored flour tortillas
Mix softened cream cheese, green onions, and red pepper in a medium bowl until well combined.
Spread a thin layer of cream cheese mixture on the center of the tortillas, leaving a border of about 1 1/2 inches around the edges. Tightly roll up tortillas.
Wrap rolled tortillas tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
To serve, cut about 2 inches off both ends of the rolled tortillas. Cut remaining roll into 1/2 inch slices and arrange on platter.