I first made this torte in 2001, for a large cocktail party to celebrate  my beloved’s Birthday.  We’d  never hosted quite so many people  (perhaps 60),   and this layered appetizer was one of the highlights of that memorable night.   The recipe came  from  Chiqui, a caterer from New Orleans, whom I “net-met” many years ago.    I hope you’ll consider it for your next dinner party, or for a potluck.  I recently made it again for another birthday party, so I might have to start calling it “Birthday Torte”.   😉

(adapted from Chiqui)

1/2 cup slivered pine nuts, toasted (I substituted slivered almonds)
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
1/2  garlic head, roasted
8 ounces feta cheese
1/2 stick unsalted butter
8 ounces cream cheese
1 tsp white pepper, ground
2 Tbs vermouth
1/2 cup arugula pesto (or regular basil pesto, preferably homemade)

Prepare the ingredients for all layers:  toast the nuts in a dry skillet or in the oven, being careful not to burn them.  Coarsely chop the sun-dried tomatoes, drain of most of their oil, and mix them with 1/2  of the roasted garlic.  Mix the feta cheese at room temperature with the butter, cream cheese, pepper, vermouth, and the remaining roasted garlic.  Add to the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and fluffy.  Adjust seasoning if necessary. If using commercial pesto, drain it to reduce the amount of oil.  If using homemade, make it with less oil than the recipe calls for.

Line the mold of your choice with plastic wrap, leaving 6 inches overhang on all sides.
First layer:   toasted nuts.
Second layer: Sun-dried tomato mixture.
Third layer: Half the cheese mixture. Spread it gently over the tomatoes.
Fourth layer:  Pesto sauce.
Fifth and final layer: Remaining cheese mixture.   Spoon gently, and smooth the surface well.

Cover it with the plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours, overnight is best.  Unwrap it, invert the torte on a serving dish.  Serve with crackers of your choice.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You can make this layered torte in any kind of container.  Sometimes I prepare it in mini-loaf pans:  the full recipe is enough for two completely full mini-loaves, or three smaller (shorter) ones.   For a Valentine’s dinner, a heart-shaped container sounds interesting, but keep in mind that the dish is rich, so the full recipe is way too much for two people.

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