Layered Cheese Spread...with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Artichokes and Nuts. This is a quick appetizer for the upcoming holiday gatherings...really easy to do and tasty! I first saw this recipe in a Nabisco Cracker recipe booklet, of all things:)! You know, the one you get for free at the supermarket. Well, I thought it was a rather neat idea, not only because it looks elegant, but that it would be very easy to do. I had most of the ingredients at home and only slightly modified it. The original recipe used 2 TBS of pesto mixed in with the artichokes. They also used smoked almonds for the topping, and because I didn't have any, I substituted a mixture of nuts and added some onion powder. It was delicious and seriously easy to do! You can definitely change the sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes with whatever you have around the house...a good one would be smoked salmon, capers and red onion. Try another one using some salsa, chopped black olives and green onions... Another good one might include, chopped pepperoni/ham, chopped roasted bell peppers and grated cheddar cheese. There are many combinations...choose one that you like. ...just make sure you finely chop the filling ingredients. I rushed through my assembly and skipped the chopping...but it would be best if you do. If you have any leftovers, you can combine the cheese with the layered ingredients....mix it all together. It will make a nice cheese spread for tea sandwiches or a base for turkey/ham/roast beef sandwiches.
You will need:
8 oz package of cream cheese, well chilled
3 TBS finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, well drained
3 TBS finely chopped marinated artichokes, well drained
3 TBS chopped nuts, toasted
1 tsp onion powder
a pinch of fresh or dried basil/parsley
Toast nuts. Mix nuts with the onion powder and set aside.
Using dental floss, cut cream cheese horizontally into 3 slices. Wrap an 18 inch (or so) piece of dental floss around the bottom third of cream cheese. Overlap the ends and pull steadily to cut the cream cheese.
Place a plastic wrap on top of a plate and place one of the cream cheese slices on it. Spoon the sun-dried tomatoes on the cheese.
(as you can see in this picture, I rushed through and did not finely chop the tomatoes, it will be much better if you do:))
Place the last piece of cheese and sprinkle the seasoned nuts, making sure you kind of press the nuts lightly into the cheese. Sprinkle with the basil/parsley. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Serve with crackers/bagel ships/etc.