Monday, September 05, 2011

Pesto and Sun-dried Tomato torte

The original recipe came from Epicurious, but it was a little bland. I've made some changes that, I think, make it much better. This recipe make so much that you can do 2 smaller tortes and freeze one for another day. Also, don't worry if your layers don't go according to the directions. It won't matter at all.

5 garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
fresh lemon juice and lemon rind
2 2/3 cups cream cheese, room temperature (about 21 ounces)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/3 cups drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1/3 cup tomato paste

Pesto layer
Finely chop garlic in processor. Reserve half of garlic for other layers. Add basil, 1/4 cup pine nuts, 2 tbl olive oil and juice from half the lemon. Process until well blended. Add 1/3 cup cream cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Using on/off turns, process just until blended. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and correct seasonings. Transfer pesto to medium bowl.


Tomato layer
Coarsely chop tomatoes in processor. Add tomato paste and half of reserved garlic and process until mixture is almost smooth. Add 1/3 cup cream cheese and blend well. Add 1-2 tbl olive oil. Add juice of half a lemon, salt, pepper, cayenne. Taste and correct seasonings.

Cream cheese layer
In food processor, beat 2 cups cream cheese and remaining parmesean with remaining garlic and lemon rind until fluffy. Season with salt and pepper.

Spray 6 cup bowl with nonstick spray. Line with plastic wrap, extending plastic over sides. Spread 3/4 cup cream cheese-parmesean mixture evenly over bottom of prepared dish. Top with half of tomato mixture, then 1/2 cup cream cheese-parmesean mixture, then half of pesto mixture. Repeat layering with 1/2 cup cream cheese-parmesean mixture, remaining tomato mixture, 1/2 cup cream cheese-parmesean mixture and remaining pesto. Top with remaining cream cheese-parmeseanmixture. Cover and chill at least 3 hours. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Invert torta onto platter. Peel off plastic. Garnish with basil sprigs. Serve with baguette slices.

Makes 20 servings.

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