Stack Up Goat Cheese with Savory Vegetables for Tasty Spread

The goat cheese and vegetable torte, all turned out and ready for garnishing.

It is a little fussy to assemble, but this goat cheese, sundried tomato, and vegetable torte is so awfully tasty that you will be really glad to have this recipe to pull out for a summertime gathering. I made it as part of heavy hors d’oeuvres for an evening boat excursion; there is plenty of garlic in it, and had anyone been downwind, they could have smelled it coming.

Actually, I made it with a combination of goat cheese, mascarpone, and cream cheese and lots of garlic. Off-hand, I would guess that almost any mix of white spreadable cheese or other “white stuff” would work: ricotta, even cottage cheese put through a food processor or sieve, a little sour cream, or Greek-style yogurt. Mix them well together, and as long as they are firm enough to hold their shape when spread, you are all set. If you want slightly tamer garlic, sauté it lightly in olive oil.

For another layer, I used a mixture of sundried tomatoes, probably about a dozen or so, which I soaked in hot water, pureed, and added olive oil to until it was spreadable. Three small zucchinis grated, with chopped onions, and roasted in a very hot oven with olive oil and oregano, made yet another layer. To serve, tapenade went on top.

If you preferred, I bet you could acquire jars of spreads like caponata, pesto, tapenade, and seasoned sun dried tomato spread, and simply use those as the vegetable layers. Finely chopped red or orange peppers roasted or eggplant, roasted or sautéed, even a thick salsa would work. Just make sure that they do not have a lot of liquid left in them to run out. You can make cilantro, arugula, and parsley into a pesto with garlic, olive oil, and pine or walnuts to form a layer. You could garnish with capers or chopped herbs.

The torte in a souffle bowl, lined with parchment paper.

The fussy part is assembling it. One recipe I saw suggested lining a bowl with plastic wrap and forming the layers over it. I decided to use a small soufflé dish, and I cut a round piece of parchment paper for the bottom, and strips of the paper to make a collar lining inside the dish, brushing a little oil on them to make them stick to the sides of the dish. It was a little trouble, but it turned out very easily and neatly. Mainly, it tasted spectacularly good.

Goat Cheese and Savory Vegetable Torte

8 cloves of garlic

12 ounces combined goat, cream, ricotta cheese, or thick yogurt

Salt and pepper

½ cup sundried tomato spread, or tapenade, or caponata

½ cup pesto

Fresh basil, capers, or parsley for garnish

Crackers or slices of baguette

Line a straight-sided bowl or pan with plastic wrap or waxed or parchment paper. Peel the garlic cloves, and grate or puree them into the cheese mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Layer about a third of the cheese in the straight-sided bowl. Spread the tomato spread over the cheese layer. Spread another third of the cheese in the bowl. Then spread the pesto over it. Top with the remaining one third of the cheese. Refrigerate for a couple of hours. To serve, put a plate on top of the bowl, and turn it over. Peel away the plastic or paper, garnish the top with basil or parsley or sprinkle capers on it. Serve with crackers or slices of baguette.

Makes about ten servings as an hors d’oeuvres.

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About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.