Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Basil Pesto and Cheese Strata


Here is a recipe for a delicious and summery appetizer that takes advantage of the fresh herbs you may have growing in your garden or containers.

This is a basil plant that I grew from seed.  I think the seed must have come from the same place that Jack got his magic beans!  The largest leaves are as big as my hand.


This appetizer recipe was sent to me recently by a wonderful friend in Georgia who used to be in our gourmet group here before she and her hubby moved away.  Now, they have a group of enthusiastic cooks in their new community so the tradition lives on!


The pesto is a delightful blend of basil, arugula and parsley with chopped pecans and Parmesan. The cheese layer is a blend of cream cheese and goat cheese. Strangely, I love just about every other cheese that has passed my lips other than goat cheese so I left it out. The pesto and cheeses are layered with sun-dried tomatoes to make a flavorful strata.

I don't know the original source of the recipe but found this one online that is similar.


Basil Pesto and Cheese Strata
Adapted from Cindy's Recipe
Printable Recipe

Serves 8 as an appetizer

(2) 8 oz pkgs of cream cheese, softened
8 oz goat cheese (I omitted)
2 c basil, loosely packed
1-½ cups arugula
½ cup Italian parsley
2 teaspoons minced garlic
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup pecans, finely chopped
2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
½ cup sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil, or rehydrated

Hearty crackers

Line a 8x4 ½ high glass loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing overhang at sides.

With paper toweling, pat sun-dried tomatoes dry, then cut in slivers. Mix cream cheese and goat cheese in medium bowl. Reserve. Combine basil, arugula, parsley and garlic in food processor. Add oil in a stream, with machine running, processing until smooth. Pour into large bowl and add pecans and cheese. Mix well. In prepared pan, layer 1/3 of cream cheese mixture, half of arugula mixture, and half of tomatoes. Then layer next 1/3 of cream cheese mixture, rest of arugula mixture, and rest of tomatoes. Finish with remaining 1/3 cream cheese mixture. Cover with overhanging plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 12-24 hrs. Let sit at room temp for 20 minutes to soften before serving. Invert onto a platter. Remove plastic wrap and serve with crackers.

My Notes: I didn't use goat cheese because I don't like it. Next time I make this, I'll try using gorgonzola or Boursin cheese in place of the goat cheese. I did not use a loaf pan since I halved the recipe to make for just 4 people, so I used a small bowl.

A Tip: In order to get the plastic wrap to stick to the bottom and corners of the loaf pan or small bowl, moisten the inside of the bowl with a little water first.

54 comments:

  1. You know what? It's gorgeous..I will have to try making it..
    One Christmas I made something similar..but it didn't turn out this well at all:)

    Of course my watercolors don't turn out like yours either..I am onto a new little quiet hobby..
    Did you know I thought of you today?
    I tried painting the little bird on a card you sent me.. you took the photo..
    I painted the birdie..:)

    It looks like Batman and Zorro on a bad hair day..:)

    I will keep at it.

    Hopefully this strata will be more of a success in the beauty dept:)

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  2. It is just beautiful Susan and your basil sounds very interesting too! How fun that your friend found a new gourmet group to continue the fun with:@)

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  3. Your basil looks so pretty, all ruffle-y! That strata looks like a work of art! I would like to make it for Christmas, but no fresh herbs except the wilted supermarket kind then! xo,

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  4. Yum! Found you via the comments section of another food blog, and I'm glad I did! This dip looks fab.

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  5. It looks beautiful...very nice presentation. I'm sure that it's as delicious as it is beautiful.

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  6. Oh my, this looks amazing. I know what I will be serving for an appetizer at my next dinner party. YUM!!!

    Carolyn/A Southerners Notebook

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  7. Susan, that is a pretty ruffly basil and the strata is so pretty and filled with all the flavors I love. I probably would have omitted the goat cheese also ;). This makes for such a colorful appetizer. Joni

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  8. This is lovely! Tell your dear friend how lucky she is to have been able to move to a community where she could join another gourmet group. We have been "out of luck" for a long time. Miss it.

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  9. Perfect for a Summer appetizer! Always looking for new ideas. I'll have to make this for my next little gathering, minus the goat cheese also!
    -Lynn

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  10. Susan what a wonderful summer appetizer! Your pictures are fantastic too! I will be adding this to my list of things to make!!

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  11. Your basil is phenomenal and the strata looks divine. I always love you recipes you find and create.

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  12. Susan, that looks and sounds so good...I would be using the goat cheese, though the Gorg or Boursin sound good, too!

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  13. I make something very similar, and we love it! Your basil is looking better than mine!

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  14. An Island business makes something very similar to this, and it's always so very popular when I serve it. I'm delighted to have a recipe to try! Thank you.

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  15. This looks absolutely fantastic. Love these light, tasty appetizers!

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  16. ciao Susan! come stai?? spero bene! i tuoi post sono sempre meravigliosi!!!!un abbraccio!

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  17. Definitely will see this at my next "get together"!
    PS:Tried a lighter version of your chocolate mint ice cream. Surely not as good as yours, but not bad!

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  18. Ha un aspetto meraviglioso, bella la presentazione e ottimo il piatto!

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  19. What a beautiful presentation to offer your guest Susan. I have never seen basil with this shape of leaves; stunning. My basil is also growing large leaves this year; it must Love the Heat.
    Rita

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  20. Now I know you SAY this is an appetizer, but would it be SO wrong of me to eat this for dinner? Looks amazing!

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  21. How lovely. I really like the goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and arugula in it.

    Absolutely stunning photos.
    Sam

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  22. Wow, I went to copy the recipe after I hit publish and just realized that you didn't use goat cheese. It's one of my favorite cheeses, but you're not the only one that doesn't care for it. Boursin would be a good choice.
    Sam

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  23. Oh, what a gorgeous strata - love all the summer fresh health-building ingredients you've incorporated here and it just looks so pretty! Have to try this... Thanks Susan. Beautiful blog.

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  24. What a delicious and festive looking strata! Wish you lived near me to taste some of our local goat cheese. I love goat cheese, especially when it's mixed with cream cheese it's really smooth. I love this recipe and it would be great for a get together!

    Have a great week! Keep cool, we're going to hit 95 today!

    Mary

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  25. Looks delicious! I can't believe how lush and vibrant your basil is, mine is so sad and sorry looking, come to think of it, it's so hot here, I feel the same way, LOL!

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  26. Brilliant. Those would make a perefect combo for the summer time. Great recipe Susan.

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  27. wonderful mixture! i'm gonna try this!


    Have a nice day and btw. check out my new post, finally :)
    Lucy,

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  28. I love this! I do a variation on this every year around the holidays..so easy and festive!

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  29. I lilt goat cheese,so I would include it in this wonderful appetizer, Susan. Your basil looks so healthy!

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  30. This reminds me of one of my favorites from Dean and Deluca in NYC. I haven't had it in so long but used to love it. Layers of cheese and that pesto center... little crunches of pine nuts... and marscarpone I think in there somewhere. Full of calories, but oh so good... time to start eating it again.. well at least your wonderful version.. bet it was a best seller at your friend's shop!

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  31. This looks and sounds delicious.

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  32. I just bought some rice crackers ;-)) Your pesto cheese spread comes just in time! Great clicks, Susan.

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  33. That is a lovely basil plant, Susan. I bet along with this recipe, you're using it in pasta too. Love basil, don't you? This is is a great idea for an appetizer this summer and I love the pecans in it for crunch!

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  34. This is a beautiful appetizer! I agree, I'd leave out the goat cheesee too. I have made a similar stack. But I really love the ingredients in your pesto... a little unusual and more full bodied!
    Your basil is amazing. I hope you can get more seeds and plant it again next year. Those ruffly edges are so pretty.
    Yvonne

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  35. I will be making this with my own basil (modestly sized ) and will be using some labneh (yogurt cheese) and who knows what else/It is a terrific recipe, thanks Susan!

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  36. I have made something similar in the past but I like your recipe much better. I'll add the goat cheese because I do like it. I need an appetizer this weekend and this will be perfect. Thanks, Susan.

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  37. not only does it look delicious but it's colorful, and that's a plus for summer! I think I'd add the goat cheese though. my usual guests don't care for it, but there have been times when they haven't even noticed! I hope you have a joyful weekend Susan.

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  38. Love that ruffly basil - and this spread looks downright delicious - I would add the the goat cheese though. You should give it another try.

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  39. I'm "harvesting" basil this morning. Mine is climbing toward the sky as well. Although I do like goat cheese, I'll leave it out as well since a number of family members and friends don't like the taste. Somehow this recipe is saying "Christmas" to me. Maybe because I was just at Hobby Lobby where all the holiday merchandise is out!!

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  40. Hi Susan -
    I've been reading your page for a couple of weeks now and wanted to say what a nice selection of recipes you have and a nice amount of info!
    I have created my own web page with blog and have included a link to your blog in it. I hope that is ok. I cant wait to try this recipe in particular - specially for the boys watching the Packer game!
    Keep up the good work and thanks from a cooking newbie!

    -Lisa

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  41. Your basil plant looks amazing! What a great appetizer:)

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  42. Complimenti...presentazione splendida!!! Un abbraccio e buona serata

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  43. Thank you, everyone! I'm glad to hear that I am not the only one in the world who doesn't like goat cheese ;)

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  44. goat cheese, bleeech! I combine a little garlic salt with my cream cheese and use everything else that you did. Most delicious. Afoodie

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  45. I am going out on a limb and be different. I would totally leave the goat cheese in the one that I make. I love it though. This is a beautiful appetizer and I can see that it would be an easy one to change up according to your personal tastes. Thank you for sharing this recipe. You have the prettiest basil plant that I think I've ever seen. Have a wonderful weekend!

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  46. This appetizer is beautiful and perfect for the hot summers when basil is at its peak. That basil variety looks like a curly lettuce leaf, its size is impressive.

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  47. I have never seen basil with crinkly leaves before. I have friends staying with us next week and your appetizer will be nice to have in the refrigerator waiting for their arrival.

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  48. I LOVE goat cheese! But I do not like pesto! :)
    It looks beautiful though, Susan, very nice for the holidays.

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  49. That's Lettuce Leaf basil ... my favorite!!!

    I made a similar torta for a Christmas celebration one year. Recipe came from Bon Appétit. No goat cheese, but it seems like I remember adding some.

    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Sun-Dried-Tomato-and-Pesto-Torta-102634

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  50. Wow, this looks incredible!!

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  51. This looks beautiful and delicious!

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  52. This is a keeper. I can almost taste it already. By the way, your basil is gorgeous; so healthy and strong!

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