Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sundried Tomato & Pesto Torta (the "it" party food of 2009)

This was the hands-down most requested recipe I made in 2009.  I brought it to several parties and everyone ooh'd and ahh'd.  It's especially nice for Christmas because of the red, green and white colors.  I like to cut it in quarters or in half (once partially frozen) because it's too big for most gatherings, plus it looks pretty as a half-circle laid flat side down.
Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Torta

Makes 20 servings (probably more)

4 garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
1/4 cup pine nuts, plus more toasted pine nuts for garnish
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 2/3 cups cream cheese (about 13 ounces), room temperature
1 1/3 cups drained oil-packed sundried tomatoes
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 cup (8 oz.) plain, soft goat cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
salt and black pepper

1-2 baguettes, sliced and toasted (or “petit toast” crackers)

1.      Finely chop garlic in processor. Add basil, pine nuts, oil and lemon juice. Process until well blended. Add the parmesan and 1/3 cup of the cream cheese. Using on/off turns, process just until blended. Transfer pesto to medium bowl.
2.      Coarsely chop tomatoes in processor. Add tomato paste and process until mixture is almost smooth. Add 1/3 cup of the cream cheese and blend well.
3.      Using electric mixer, beat goat cheese, butter and remaining cream cheese (1 cup) until fluffy.  Season with salt and pepper.
4.      Lightly oil a 6-cup soufflé dish; line with plastic wrap, extending plastic over sides (or use a
6 ½” non-stick spring form pan—line bottom with parchment if desired).
5.      Spread 1/2 cup cheese-butter mixture evenly over bottom of prepared dish.  Top with half the tomato mixture, then 1/2 cup cheese-butter mixture, then half the pesto mixture. Repeat layering with 1/2 cup cheese-butter mixture, remaining tomato mixture, 1/2 cup cheese-butter mixture and remaining pesto.  Top with remaining cheese-butter mixture. Cover and chill overnight. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)   Freezes well (thaw in refrigerator for at least 24 hours before serving).
6.      If using soufflé dish, invert torta onto platter and peel off plastic (if using spring form pan, just remove side of pan). Garnish with basil sprigs and toasted pine nuts. Serve with toasted baguette slices.

Tip:  Freezing for 10-15 minutes between layers makes it easier to spread.

Note:  This version is slightly different from the original (it substitutes some goat cheese for cream cheese, uses less butter and has a few tips thrown in).  The original recipe can be found on Copyright © Bon Appétit, December 1999


Unknown said...

Janet followed your recipe for this for a get-together recently, and it was a huge hit. I had the leftovers, and it was awesome. It contains three of my all-time favorite flavors: basil pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and goat cheese. Yum.

Oh, and we miss you guys.


Susan said...

Brent!!! It's been ages...what a fun surprise to find a comment from you! I'm thrilled you and Janet like the torta. I wish you lived closer so we could all get together and share one!

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