Herb Tortas: Cheddar, Sage and Walnut Torta

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This smooth, rich torta makes an elegant appetizer. Choose a high-quality sharp cheddar; its subtle bite invigorates the appetite. The walnuts provide a sweet, crunchy contrast.

• 1/2 pound cream cheese, softened
• 3 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, chopped (plus a few whole leaves for garnish)
• 1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese such as Cabot Vermont, shredded
• 1 cup walnuts, chopped (reserve a few walnut halves for garnish)

Place the cream cheese in a food processor with the chopped sage leaves. Blend. Line a 2-cup mold with a double thickness of cheesecloth. Arrange the whole sage leaves in a decorative pattern on the bottom of the mold. Add half the cream cheese mixture, then add shredded cheddar, smoothing out the layer and pressing it slightly. Add the walnuts, again pressing gently. Smooth the remaining cream cheese mixture over the walnuts. Fold the ends of the cheesecloth over the top of the torta mixture and press lightly. Refrigerate the mold overnight.

To unmold, fold back the top of the cheesecloth. Invert a serving plate on top of the mold and flip them over together. Lift off the mold and carefully remove the cheesecloth. Garnish the torta with walnut halves.

Mary Herrick is The Jazz Cook of Fort Collins, Colorado, a food writer, and the owner of an event planning and catering business.

For more recipes from Herb Tortas, click here.