During the holiday season we are always thankful for the versatility of cream cheese… and the standard in our kitchen remains Kraft’s Philadelphia Original. For the best taste, texture and foundation for many great recipes it simply cannot be beaten! Dayton refined this recipe for a delicious appetizer spread from one to which he had been introduced many years ago. This incarnation is spectacular in its rich bold tastes… generous flecks of flavor-packed sun-dried tomatoes, microplaned fresh garlic and pesto bold with balanced notes of basil, parmesan cheese and pine nuts, all flavors conjoined and enjoyed on thin, crisp slices of toasted baguette. A wonderful addition to any holiday appetizer menu, this delicious appetizer will, without doubt, elicit requests for the recipe…!
Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Loaf with Toasted Pine Nuts
Drain well, preferably overnight, by placing in a finely-meshed sieve:
16 oz sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
Coarsely chop the tomatoes with a chef’s knife then transfer to a food processor, processing by continuous pulsing until finely chopped. Set to the side:
Preheat the oven to 400°. When heated, toast for approximately 7 – 8 minutes:
- 2 – 3 oz pine nuts
Place in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle:
- 2 lb cream cheese, softened
- the finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 4 whole peeled garlic cloves, microplaned
Mix well to thoroughly combine. Season to taste with:
- salt and white pepper
Line a 5-cup bowl or mold with film:
Transfer approximately a third of the seasoned sun-dried tomato mixture to the bowl and smooth out the surface with a spatula or large spoon.
Set the remaining sun-dried tomato mixture to the side unrefrigerated. Sprinkle the molded mixture with approximately one-third of the toasted pine nuts and pat them gently into the cream cheese mixture:
Transfer bowl to the refrigerator and allow this first layer to chill for 2 hours before proceeding with the second layer.
Mix together in a small bowl until smooth and well incorporated:
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 1 8-oz container frozen pesto
Chef’s Note: We recommend using Genova brand frozen pesto sauce for this recipe rather than fresh pesto. It mixes well with the cream cheese and makes for a firm center layer for this appetizer spread.
2 whole peeled garlic cloves, microplaned
Season to taste with:
salt and white pepper
Evenly spread the pesto layer over the first sun-dried tomato layer, sprinkle with a portion of the remaining toasted pine nuts, gently patting them into the surface of the pesto layer:
Return to the refrigerator for an additional two hours to firm the pesto layer. Remove loaf from refrigeration and spread the remaining sun-dried tomato mixture on top, sprinkling with the remaining pine nuts and patting them in. Fold the film over the top and return the loaf to the refrigerator for another two hours or overnight:
Prior to service, remove the loaf from the refrigerator and fold back the film:
To remove the loaf from the pan gently lift up on the film in several places as you turn the bowl to loosen the seal between the film and the mold. When loosened, place a serving plate on top of the mold and invert… the loaf will come out beautifully! Allow to sit at room temperature for about an hour before serving.
Serve with a variety of crisp crackers or toasted baguette… our favorite! This gorgeous loaf is a genuine show stopper and a lovely addition to any holiday get-together… Bon Appetit!
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