Pesto torta

Yield: 10 servings

Measure Ingredient
2 packs (8oz ea) cream cheese at room temp
1 pounds (4 sticks) butter plus
2 tablespoons Butter at room temp
2 ounces Sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
2 cups Fresh basil leaves tightly packed
½ cup Fresh parsley
⅓ cup Pine nuts lightly toasted and cooled
2 \N Garlic clove(s)
¼ teaspoon Salt
½ cup Olive oil
¾ cup Freshly grated Parmesan

With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and the 1 pound butter together until smooth and creamy. Divide it into six equal portions.

Soak the dried tomatoes in warm water for 20 minutes. Drain them in a sieve and then dry them on paper towels. Cut them into small pieces.

In a food processor, process the basil, parsley, pine nuts, garlic and salt. Add the olive oil and process for 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the Parmesan and the remaining 2 tbs. butter and pulse the machine a few times until blended. Let the mixture drain in a sieve for at least hour before using; it should be as dry as possible.

Cut an 18-inch square of cheesecloth. Moisten it with water, wring it dry, and smoothly line a 6-inch springform pan with it, draping the excess over the rim of the pan. Now take a rubber spatula and spread 1/6th of the cream cheese mixture in the bottom of the lined pan. "Frost" the cream cheese mixture with of the drained pesto, making sure the pesto makes it all the way to the sides of the pan. Top the pesto with another 1/6th of the cream cheese. On top of that layer, scatter the dried tomato bits, once again making sure that they reach the sides of the pan.

(The different layers need to show when the torta is unmolded.) Cover them with another layer of cream cheese mixture. Repeat this process until the pan is filled; the last, top layer should be cream cheese.

If your pan or mold is wider than 6 inches, you can make fewer layers.

Tuck the ends of the cheesecloth up around the torta and gently press them down to compact the mixture slightly. Chill overnight.

An hour before serving, release the torta from the springform pan and gently unwrap it. (If you've used another pan or mold, invert it onto a serving dish and gently remove it from the mold. Then unwrap it.) Put the torta on a serving plate. If you like, decorate the top of the torta with more snipped dried tomatoes.

You can freeze the torta, still in its pan, in plastic wrap and a tightly sealed plastic bag. It will keep for 2 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.

Serve with assorted crackers.

Makes one 6-inch torta, enough to serve 10 to 12.

Beat This! by Ann Hodgman ISBN 1-881527-21-2 pg 150-152 Submitted By DIANE LAZARUS On 03-20-95

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