Basil Cheese Torta

Basil Cheese Torta

1/2 pound softened cream cheese

4 tablespoons butter, softened

3/4 cup basil pesto

1/2 pound provolone cheese, thinly sliced

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1 red bell pepper, toasted, peeled, seeded — cut 3×3/8″ strips

1 small jar sun-dried tomatoes

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. Note:

Torta may be presented inverted or not. Keeps several days refrigerated. Although best served at room temperature, it slices best chilled.

The Herb Garden Cookbook, by Lucinda Hutson

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