This is the dish I prepare to take to a fancy pot-luck or dinner party. It's a delicious spread in the form of a savoury cheesecake laden with Mediterranean ingredients: roasted red peppers, chevre, pesto, pine nuts, and sun-dried tomatoes. It's easy to prepare, can be made in advance, and looks very impressive when laid out on an attractive plate flanked by a basket of bread or crackers.
What you need
For one 8 inch/20 cm round cheesecake, feeding 8 to 12 people as a starter or snack:
- ¼ cup/60 ml pesto, preferably homemade
- 4 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into thin strips (if they're dry or hard, pour boiling water over them and let them soak for a few minutes, then drain and slice)
- ½ cup/120 ml pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan till fragrant, and cooled
What to do
Roast whole peppers on a barbecue or under your broiler until skin is charred and blackened all over. Place in a bowl and cover to cool, then peel the peppers and discard the seeds, retaining the liquid that collects in the bottom of the bowl. (See roasted peppers for instructions if you've never done this before.)
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
Prepare a 8 inch/20 cm cake pan or spring form pan by lining it with foil, folding the overhang over the outside of the pan. Coat the foil with butter or cooking spray.
Put the roasted peppers and reserved pepper juice, cream cheese, chevre, butter, garlic, salt and cayenne in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the ingredients are well combined, with tiny flecks of pepper just visible. Add the eggs and pulse until combined. (If you don't have a food processor you could try a blender, though I think you'd have to add the eggs at the beginning or there wouldn't be enough liquid to make this work.)
Pour and scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until the edges of the cheesecake are puffed and the centre is just set, about 35 minutes. Cool on a rack to room temperature, then fold the foil up over the cheesecake, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for several hours to 3 days. (You can also wrap it tightly and freeze for up to 3 weeks.)
To serve, lift out of pan by edges of foil, fold foil back from top of cheesecake, and place a serving dish on top. Flip serving dish over - so cheesecake is upside-down - and carefully peel back foil. Spread the pesto over the top of the cheesecake like icing - leave sides bare - and sprinkle with sun-dried tomatoes and pinenuts.
This is seriously delicious.