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Note: pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, black olive tapenade, or smoked salmon may also be used. Mini bagels are great with a smoked salmon torta.
I made this hundreds of times for catering and it was always a hit.
Lite cream cheese can be used but it's still not for the cholesterol watcher.

Pesto Torta

A cream cheese mixture layered with fresh pesto. Spread it on crackers, baguettes or mini bagels.


1 pound cream cheese
1 pound butter
2 1/2 cups basil leaves
5 ounces Parmesan or Romano
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
salt and pepper


1. With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until very smoothly blended, scrape mixture from bowl sides as needed.
2. To make pesto: In a blender or food processor, whirl to a paste all the remaining ingredients.
3. Cut 2 18-inch squares of cheesecloth; moisten with water, wring dry, and lay out flat, one on top of the other. Smoothly line a 5 to 6 cup straight-sided plain mold such as a loaf pan, terrine, or clean flower port or bowl with the cheesecloth.
4. Set a basil leaf or sprig of parsley in mold bottom, or as specified with each of the following flavors.
5. With your fingers or a paddle make an even layer with 1/6 of the cheese, covering topping. Cover with 1/5 of the filling, extending it evenly to sides of mold.
6. Repeat until mold is filled, finishing with cheese.
7. Fold ends of cheesecloth over torta and press down lightly with your hands to compact. Chill until torta feels firm with pressed, about 1 hour.
8. Invert onto a serving dish and gently pull off cheesecloth (if allowed to stand, the cloth will as a wick and cause filling color to bleed onto cheese).
9. Serve, or wrap airtight with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 5 days.

Present torta with bread or crackers.