Monday, December 13, 2010

Easy Appetizer Idea: Pesto Torta



Today I did something totally decadent. In between loads of laundry, I lit a fire and addressed my Christmas cards and weeded through my "to do" pile in the warmth of our living room. Once those two things were done I sheepishly grabbed a stack of magazines from my bedside table (that dated back to the last 6 months), and trotted back in to the fire. I can safely say that today might be one of the only weekdays I have spent in our living room, and I might make a happy habit of it. Had my little one not been home with a cold, I might have been out zipping from town to town on pre-holiday errands. Being forced to stay home ended up being wonderful.

Anyway, one of the magazines I perused had that photo above from an advertisement for California Sun Dry products. The photo caught my eye because it reminded me of an appetizer my mom always made. I tore their recipe for "Sun-Dried Tomato Holiday Torte" out and then went searching for my mom's recipe since the whole idea of rolling cream cheese out sounded a bit messy, though their presentation is nice. The Sun-Dried-Pesto Torta recipe on Epicurious seemed to come close to what I remembered since my mom always made it in a bowl. Still, I can't imagine my mom whipping butter and cream cheese together so here's my take on this holiday appetizer that I look forward to whipping up next week:

Pesto-Sundried Tomato-Goat Cheese Torta

1 tub of basil pesto, drained of excess oil
1 jar sun-dried tomato pesto, drained of excess oil
2 bricks of cream cheese, room temperature
small log of goat cheese (about 8 oz), room temperature
1 tube of sun-dried tomato paste (they carry
Amore brand at our local market), to decorate
Toasted pine nuts, to decorate
Baguette slices or crackers

Make sure the basil pesto and sun-dried tomato pesto are well drained of excess oil. To do this, I'll leave them in two fine mesh sieves over the sink for an hour or so, while I am doing other things.

For the cream cheese-goat cheese mixture: using a hand mixer, beat the two bricks of cream cheese and the goat cheese until fluffy. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble: line a 6-cup (or so) bowl or souffle dish with plastic wrap, extending plastic over sides. Spread a 1" layer of the cream cheese-goat cheese mixture evenly over bottom of prepared dish. Top with a 1/2" layer of the basil pesto, then another inch of the cream cheese-goat cheese mixture, then a 1/2" layer of the sun-dried tomato pesto. Repeat layering between the cream cheese-goat cheese mixture, and remaining pestos, ending with a layer of the cream cheese-goat cheese mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

When ready to serve, invert torta onto platter. Peel off plastic. Garnish with a squiggle design of sun-dried tomato paste and sprinkles of pine nuts (good part of party prep for the kids to do). Serve with baguette slices or crackers.

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