With holiday parties, office luncheons, and family gatherings, you can guarantee food will be bountiful. It truly is the most wonderful time of year for fudge, cream pull candy, peanut butter rolls, bourbon balls, hams and turkeys, and for “carving the roast beast”, so says the Grinch. (Dare I mention the few extra pounds we resolve to lose in the New Year? Don’t fret there’s an app for that.)
If you are a host or attending a holiday event and want to make a special dish for the party, then a cream cheese sun-dried tomato and pesto torta is the ticket. I cater with this beauty all year long, but especially love it around the holidays with its pop of red and green topped with an elegant garnish. Serve with toasted pita chips or flatbread crackers and your dish will be the talk of the party! Please enjoy and have a safe and happy holiday!
Sun Dried Tomato & Pesto Torta
4 garlic cloves
1 ½ cups fresh basil leaves
½ cup of toasted pine nuts
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 ⅔ cup cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
½ cup sun dried tomatoes
1 TBSP tomato paste
½ cup of butter, room temperature
Non-sticbk vegetable spray
Fresh basil sprigs
Toasted pine nuts for garnish
Toasted aguette slices, pita chips or flat bread crackers
Finely chop the garlic in a food processor. Add the basil, ¼ cup of pine nuts, 1 TBSP oil and lemon juice. Process until well blended. Add ⅓ cup of cream cheese and ¼ cup of parmesan cheese. Pulse with the food processor just until well blended. Transfer basil pesto mixture to a medium bowl.
Coarsely chop the sun-dried tomatoes in the food processor, add a ¼ cup of pine nuts, tomato paste, 1 TBSP oil and process until well blended. Add ⅓ cup of cream cheese and ¼ cup of parmesan cheese and blend well.
Using an electric mixer, beat 2 cups of cream cheese and butter with ½ cup of parmesan cheese in a large bowl until fluffy. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Spray a 6-cup soufflé dish or a loaf pan with non-stick spray and line with plastic wrap, extending the plastic over the sides. Spread ¾ cup of the cream cheese-butter mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared dish. Top with half of the tomato mixture, then ½ cup cream cheese-butter mixture, then half of pesto mixture. Repeat layering with ½ cream cheese-butter mixture, remaining tomato mixture, ½ cup cream cheese-butter mixture and remaining pesto. Top with remaining cream cheese-butter mixture. Cover and chill overnight. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
Invert torta onto platter. Peel off plastic. Garnish with basil sprigs and toasted pine nuts. Serve with toasted baguette slices, pita chips, or flat bread crackers. Enjoy!