Basil Cheese Torta with Red
Bell Pepper Strips and Nuts
1/2 pound cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup basil pesto
1/2 pound Provolone, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3- x 3/8-inch strips
1 small jar sun-dried tomatoes (packed in olive oil)
Fresh basil for garnish
Mix cream cheese and butter with a fork; add pesto and mix well.
Line a small (3-cup) loaf pan or bowl with plastic wrap, leaving several inches
of overhang on each side. Make a thin layer of provolone slices on the bottom and
partially up the sides. Spread 1/3 of the pesto mixture over the cheese; artistically
arrange 2 or 3 sun-dried tomatoes, 4 to 6 bell pepper strips, and about 1 tablespoon
toasted pine nuts over the pesto. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used (reserving
some of the pine nuts to sprinkle on top), pressing down well between layers. Chill
overnight or for several days.
Serve at room temperature on a platter wreathed with fresh basil sprigs. Additional
toasted pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes cut into flowers, red bell pepper strips,
and fresh basil sprigs may be used as garnish.
Yield: 12 servings
Torta may be presented inverted or not. Keeps several weeks refrigerated.
Although best served at room temperature, it slices best chilled. I like to serve
it on a platter adorned with grape leaves and small clusters of red and white grapes.
Variations: Use lemon pesto; substitute slivered toasted almonds for the pine
nuts; omit the sun-dried tomatoes and add 1 teaspoon lemon zest to the cream cheese
Use purple pesto; omit the red pepper if desired and increase the sun-dried tomatoes.
Use cinnamon basil pesto; omit the sun-dried tomatoes and the red peppers if
desired, and use pecans instead of pine nuts.
Per Serving: 120 Cal (87% from Fat, 7% from Protein, 6% from Carb); 2 g Protein;
12 g Tot Fat; 2 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; 18 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 95 mg Sodium; 31 mg
Source: The Herb Garden Cookbook by Lucinda Hutson