After working in the garden on a perfectly 'perfect weather' day, the deck chairs seems to summon us, and the idea of a simple dinner with the neighbors is about as good as it gets. IN preparation for this event... this pesto cheesecake can be made from ordinary items in the back of the refrigerator. I tend to do a commissary shopping trip and load up on essentials...so having 4 packages of cream cheese on hand is not unusual. Understand we do not live close to a commissary, so when I go... I go for carts!
I hope you have the occasion to sit outside, enjoy your work and enjoy your friends!
3 c crushed Ritz or Townhouse crackers
1/4 c unsalted butter, melted
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 T minced fresh garlic
1 t fresh cracked pepper
4 ( 8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 c sour cream, room temperature
1 c pesto, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 T lemon juice
2 T flour
1/4 t salt
1 c Parmesan cheese, grated
Fresh basil leaves
Sliced tomatoes for garnish
In a small skillet, heat oil, add the onion, garlic and pepper. Saute until soft, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Put crackers in a food processor. With the machine running add the butter and process until well combined. Line the inside of a 9" spring form pan with parchment paper. Coat with nonstick cooking spray. Press the cracker mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan. Next, wrap the bottom and sides with heavy duty aluminum foil. Prepare a water bath by placing boiling water about 1" deep in a large baking dish. Preheat oven to 325 and position a rack in the center of the oven.
In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, basil pesto, eggs, lemon juice, flour, and salt. Whip on low speed until well blended. Do not over beat, the batter should be light and airy. Gently fold in the grated Parmesan and the onion mixture until well blended. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and place springform pan in water bath. Bake until set: 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from the water and transfer the pan to a rack to completely cool. Cover and refrigerate until cold, 8 to 10 hours. Run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the cake before removing sides of the pan. Before serving, garnish with fresh basil leaves and sliced tomatoes. Serve cold or at room temperature, cut into wedges, with a sliced toasted baguette or crackers. Makes 24 servings.
This recipe can be made with shredded Fontina cheese instead of the grated Parmesan. Fun to switch up sometimes. And you can make your own pesto.