Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Pesto Mascarpone Torta

Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Pesto Mascarpone Torta

1 pound mascarpone (2 cups)
2 tablespoons finely chopped oil-packed sundried tomatoes
2 tablespoons Basil Pesto
4 ounces Texas basil caciotta or another mild cheese, such as low-moisture mozzarella or Monterey jack
1 or 2 oil-packed sundried tomatoes halves, sliced into strips
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, for garnish
Fresh herb sprigs, for garnish (optional)
Plain water biscuits or toasted slices of baguette, for serving

Divide the mascarpone in half and place in 2 separate bowls. Stir the finely chopped sundried tomatoes into 1 bowl of mascarpone and the basil pesto into the other bowl. Taste the mixtures and adjust the flavors if desired. Thinly slice the caciotta, using a cheese plane or a wire cheese cutter, as the cheese is soft.

Line a small bowl, about 2 cups in capacity, or another type of mold with plastic wrap, letting the excess wrap extend over the edges. Arrange the strips of sundried tomato on the bottom in a pattern. Gently spoon 1 color of mascarpone into the mold about an inch deep. Place slices of cheese over the mascarpone and gently press down to evenly distribute the mascarpone underneath. Repeat the procedure, alternating colors of the mascarpone with slices of cheese in between, until all the mascarpone is used. You should have several layers of alternating colors. Top the last layer with the caciotta and gently press down to compress the layers of cheese. Bring the sides of the plastic wrap up and cover the top. Press down again. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

About 30 minutes before serving, open the plastic wrap covering the top of the molded cheese, invert the torta on a serving platter, remove the mold, and carefully peel away the remaining plastic wrap. Garnish with pine nuts and fresh herb sprigs. Serve the torta at room temperature with plain water biscuits or toasted rusks of French bread.

Serves 8 to 12

Copyright © 2000 by Paula Lambert, The Cheese Lover's Cookbook and Guide, all rights reserved.