This beautiful appetizer is layers of cheese, pesto, and sun-dried tomatoes. It is a beautiful appetizer to serve for holidays and special occasions.
I first had something similar to this beautiful Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Torta with Mascarpone Cheese when I bought it at a local farmers market many, many years ago. Truth be told, I had never heard of mascarpone cheese at that time, so on top of beautiful, it seemed exotic too. This is a recreation of that dish. It makes a simple and beautiful presentation with the layers of red, green and white mimicking the colors of the Italian flag!
What to make it extra special? Try making your own Italian Basil Pesto with Pine Nuts; this is simply amazing and would be a great addition to one of my favorite appetizers.
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 2/3 cups mascarpone (or substitute cream cheese), room temperature (about 21 ounces)
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 1/3 cups drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- Fresh basil sprigs
- Toasted pine nuts
- Baguette slices, toasted
- Finely chop garlic in processor. Add basil, 1/4 cup pine nuts, oil and lemon juice. Process until well blended. Add 1/3 cup cream cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Using on/off turns, process just until blended. Transfer pesto to medium bowl.
- Coarsely chop 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 butter in large bowl until fluffy. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spray 6-cup soufflé dish with nonstick spray. Line with plastic wrap, extending plastic over sides. Spread 3/4 cup cream cheese-butter mixture evenly over bottom of prepared dish. Top with half of tomato mixture, then 1/2 cup cream cheese-butter mixture, then half of pesto mixture. Repeat layering with 1/2 cup cream cheese-butter mixture, remaining tomato mixture, 1/2 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 baguette slices.