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
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
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.