Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Cheese Spread

This is an incredible cheese spread. With the red of the sun-dried tomatoes and the green of the pesto, it makes for a beautiful Christmas appetizer. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and sprigs of basil. Serve with crackers.

Yield

6 1/2 cups (52 servings)

Ingredients

4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 2/3 cups softened cream cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/3 cups sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained
1/3 cup tomato paste
3/4 cup butter
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Chop the garlic in a food processor. Mix in basil, lemon juice, pine nuts and olive oil. Process until well blended. Mix in 1/3 cup cream cheese and Parmesan cheese. Blend using pulse setting until almost smooth. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.

Coarsely chop sun-dried tomatoes in the food processor. Mix in tomato paste and 1/3 cup cream cheese. Blend until smooth.

Place 2 cups cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until fluffy. Season with salt and pepper.

Lightly grease a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Line dish with plastic wrap so that the wrap extends over sides of the dish. Evenly spread 3/4 cup cream cheese and butter mixture in the prepared dish. Layer alternately with 1/2 the sun-dried tomato mixture, 1/2 cup cream cheese and butter mixture and 1/2 the pesto mixture. Repeat layering, topping with remaining cream cheese and butter mixture. Cover and chill in the refrigerator 8 hours, or overnight.

Carefully invert dish onto a platter and remove plastic to serve.

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