The holidays bring houses filled with people. Hungry people. That makes this time of year the perfect time to share this recipe. You can make it the day before then leave it out for your guests to serve themselves-- perfect for entertaining!
A mixture of cream cheese, parmesan, and feta make up the main body of the torta. Part of the cheese mixture is mixed with spinach and layered in the middle with sun-dried tomatoes. The edges are covered with toasted pine nuts. The whole torta is then topped with a basil pesto and a few extra sun-dried tomatoes for garnish. The layers of red, white and green make it festive for the holidays, but the real beauty is in the flavor. Serve with crackers or crostini-- I highly recommend the crostini.
The recipe makes a large 8-inch torta--enough to keep a hungry crowd at bay for a while. As we are a family of five, I cut the recipe in half and used a mini spring-form pan from my children's baking kit. Even though I halved the recipe, we still had some for leftovers. Not wanting to waste, I turned the leftovers into a hearty panini. I will certainly be making the torta again. It does the job as an appetizer. The leftovers go the extra mile.
Let's see-- basil pesto, roasted chicken breast, pancetta, fresh baby spinach, and a good schmear of the leftover torta. Not sure what to call it other than good stuff! I have included the panini suggestion in the recipe below. Just add the amounts according to your own taste.
Sun-Dried Tomato and Spinach Torta
makes 1 (8-inch) torta
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 cloves garlic, grated on a micro-plane
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, plus a few extra for garnish
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup basil pesto, homemade or store bought
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, parmesan, feta, and garlic with a hand-held mixer on medium speed. Divide the mixture into thirds. In a separate bowl, combine one-third of the cheese mixture with the spinach; set aside.
Line an 8-inch round cake pan or spring-form pan with plastic wrap. Spread one-third of the cheese mixture in the bottom of the pan. Lay half of the sun-dried tomatoes on top. Spread the spinach mixture on top of the tomatoes. Lay the remaining tomatoes on top of the spinach mixture. Top with the remaining cheese mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Remove plastic wrap on the top. Invert torta onto a serving platter. Carefully remove plastic wrap. Press the pine nuts on the sides to cover. Spread pesto on top and garnish with the extra sun-dried tomato. Serve with crackers or crostini. Enjoy!
Leftover Torta Panini
Slices of Country bread
Leftover tortaBasil pesto
Sliced pancetta, cooked and drained
Fresh baby leaf spinach
Chicken breast, cooked and sliced
Preheat a panini grill or pan. Spread one slice of bread with leftover torta. Top with spinach, pancetta, and sliced chicken. Spread second slice of bread with leftover torta; place on top of chicken. Drizzle outside of bread with olive oil. Cook sandwich in the panini grill or pan until cheese is melted and the meats are warmed through. Allow panini to cool slightly (the spinach stays really hot). Slice and enjoy!
Source: Torta adapted from Victoria Magazine: Entertaining, Leftover sandwich from The Galley Gourmet