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Monday, January 17, 2011

Feta and Sun-dried Tomato Torta

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"I am convinced that this food will be found in heaven!"

With a statement like that, what more can I tell you? Shame on me for waiting 17 days after New Year's Eve to post this. This was by far the biggest hit of our appetizer spread and the exclamation above was one of many made about the torta.

After needing only a tiny bit of pesto for the vegetable tian at our Christmas dinner, I was left with quite a bit of pesto. My mom came through, emailing me this recipe. Little did I know the impact this appetizer would have! I'm with Robert, this appetizer is heaven-worthy!

One Year Ago: Spinach and Black Bean Pasta

Feta and Sun-dried Tomato Torta

-2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces (*see note below)
-3/4 lb feta cheese, crumbled
-8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 shallot, minced
-2-4 tbsp dry vermouth
-tobasco sauce, to taste
-1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
-8 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, softened and minced
-1 cup prepared pesto

1. Combine butter, cheese, garlic, shallot, and vermouth in a food processor, pulsing until smooth. Season with tobasco, as needed (only a few drops).
2. Oil a 4-5 cup bowl and line with plastic wrap.
3. Layer in each of the ingredients, beginning with the pine nuts, then the tomatoes, pesto, and cheese mixture. Repeat until the mold is full.
4. Fold the plastic wrap that is inside the bowl over the top of the torta and press gently to compact the layers.
5. Refrigerate at least one hour, until firm. Unwrap top of plastic wrap and invert onto platter. Remove remaining plastic. Serve with pita chips, bagel chips, or crackers.
Note: can be made up to 5 days in advance!
*My butter had a hard time pureeing completely in the food processor and I ended up having to remove several butter chunks before layering the torte. I'm tempted to try this again without the butter (or maybe less butter?) to see if it's a necessary ingredient. It definitely adds some richness to the cheese layer, but I imagine it could also be omitted and you'd still have a delicious, decadent appetizer!