This appetizer always garners tons of complements whenever I serve it. I try to make a few small ones (in ramekins) every few months and keep them in the freezer for unexpected guests and dinner parties.
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 ½ cups (packed) fresh spinach leaves
- ¼ cup pecans
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 2/3 cups cream cheese, room temperature (about 21 ounces)
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 1/3 cups drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- ¾ cup chevre, room temperature
- salt and pepper, to taste
- finely crushed red chili flakes, to taste
- Fresh basil sprigs
- Toasted pine nuts
- Baguette slices, toasted
- Finely chop garlic in processor. Add spinach, ¼ cup pecans, oil and lemon juice. Process until well blended. Add 1/3 cup cream cheese and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. Using on/off turns, process just until blended. Transfer to a bowl.
- Coarsely chop sun dried tomatoes in processor. Add tomato paste and process until mixture is almost smooth. Add 1/3 cup cream cheese and blend well.
- Using electric mixer, beat 2 cups cream cheese, and chevre in large bowl until fluffy. Season with salt, pepper and red chili flakes (as much or as little as you like — I added ¼ teaspoon).
- Spray 6-cup cheesecake pan with removeable bottom with nonstick spray. Cut parchment paper to fit the bottom and sides (one circle for the bottom and a rectangle to line the side). Spread ¾ cup cream cheese-butter mixture evenly over bottom of prepared dish – I found it easiest to use a pastry bag and then freeze for a few minutes and smooth with a warmed palette knife – repeat this step with each layer). Top with half of tomato mixture, then ½ cup cream cheese-chevre mixture, then half of pesto mixture. Repeat layering with ½ cup cream cheese-chevre mixture, remaining tomato mixture, ½ cup cream cheese-chevre mixture and remaining pesto. Top with remaining cream cheese-chevre mixture. Cover and chill overnight. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated or will freeze for up to a few weeks.)
- Invert onto platter. Peel off plastic. Bring to room temperature if frozen or chilled. Garnish with basil sprigs, sun dried tomatoes and toasted pine nuts. Serve with baguette slices.
* recipe adapted from Bon Appétit, December, 1999