Kitchen Table: Pesto Cheesecake

Yields 18 servings

If you have pesto in your freezer from last summer’s garden, here’s a good way to use it up. This is delicious served as an savory appetizer.

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup fine dry unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto sauce
  • Fresh basil sprigs or other herbs for garnish
  • Baguette of French bread or crackers

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Mix the bread crumbs with 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese. Coat the pan with the crumb mixture.

2. With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, ricotta, remaining par­mesan cheese, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until well mixed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Transfer half of the mixture to a medium bowl. Mix the pesto into the remaining half. Pour the pesto mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Next, spoon the plain mixture over the pesto and gently smooth the top. Sprinkle with the pine nuts. Bake about 45 minutes or until the center no longer moves when the pan is shaken. Transfer to a rack and cool completely. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. Run a sharp knife around the pan sides to loosen the cheesecake. Release the pan sides and transfer the cheesecake to a platter. Garnish with fresh basil sprigs or other herbs. Serve with slices of French bread or crackers.

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Recipe Courtesy Celeste Alfes, Rocky River, Ohio.

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