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2010 Herb of the Year: Dilled Ricotta Torte

| February/March 2010

  • Photo by Howard Lee Puckett

Serves 8 to 12

This savory, rich torte makes a lovely main course for Sunday brunch. For a party, bake the torte a day or so ahead, cool to room temperature and refrigerate. Serve with fruit and green salads or a selection of sliced ham or smoked fish. Natural cream cheese, without gums or chemicals, is available in many markets, cheese stores and delicatessens; in my opinion, it has a finer flavor than processed cream cheese.

• 1 cup whole blanched almonds
• 1 1⁄2 cups fine dry bread crumbs, preferably whole-wheat
• 1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, softened
• 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, divided
• 3⁄4 pound natural cream cheese, softened
• 1 cup ricotta cheese
• 2 large eggs
• 2 tablespoons half-and-half
• 1⁄3 cup fresh dill leaves, chopped
• 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
• Salt, to taste
• Lemon slices and fresh dill sprigs, for garnish

1. Make a medium-fine meal of the almonds in a food processor. Transfer ground almonds to a bowl. Combine bread crumbs with almonds. Blend softened butter well with almonds and bread crumbs. Stir in 1⁄4 teaspoon salt. Press the mixture on the bottom and 1½ inches up sides of a 91⁄2-inch springform pan.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cream cheese, ricotta cheese, eggs, half-and-half, dill, nutmeg and lemon zest in the food processor. Blend mixture very well and season with 1⁄4 teaspoon salt.    

3. Pour mixture into prepared crust; bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until set. Remove from oven; gently run a knife around edge of torte to loosen. Cool on a wire rack. Remove sides of pan. The torte may be served warm or chilled.  

This recipe is excerpted from Herbs in the Kitchen by Carolyn Dille and Susan Belsinger, (Interweave Press, 1992).

Author Susan Belsinger uses herbs every day in and around her home and greenhouse. She and the International Herb Association are releasing a book on dill, the Herb of the Year for 2010.

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