I am a fool for pesto. On pasta. As a sandwich spread. Drizzled over grilled vegetables. I’m pretty sure I was Italian in a past life. I’ll happily eat any kind of pesto, though the classic basil version will always be my favorite. The combination of sweet, pungent basil with the nuttiness of Parmigiano-Reggiano has no equal.
This particular recipe brings to mind a very important day in my life – my wedding day. I was married to my husband on a beautiful summer day in the mountains of Colorado. The setting was breathtaking, the love of my life was dressed to the nines and the food was to die for. Or so I hear….
The typical wedding excitement left me with only a vague recollection of dinner. The whole ‘cake in the face’ thing meant that I didn’t actually get around to tasting dessert. But the real culinary tragedy of the day was the failure of our caterer to bring us any nourishment during our painfully long photo shoot. By the time the photographers were done with us, every presumably delicious morsel had been scarfed down by our guests, leaving none for the bride and groom.
I had been looking forward to the appetizers most of all, and particularly this pesto-mascarpone torte.
This spread pairs the intense aroma and flavor of a classic pesto with the smooth and rich palate of mascarpone cheese. The combination is bliss. Serve with crackers and crudités and prepare for your loved ones to duke it out for a taste.
In honor of starving brides and grooms everywhere – enjoy this dish!
1 8oz. package of mascarpone cheese* (room temperature)
6 oz. basil pesto (homemade or store bought)
¼ c chopped pistachios
*Mascarpone cheese is a soft Italian cheese similar in texture to cream cheese but without the tang. For a frugal alternative, cream cheese, while adding a slightly different flavor, can be substituted for mascarpone.
Loaf or bowl that will hold at least 14 oz. This container will determine the shape of your torte.
*If you don’t have or can’t find cheesecloth, I recommend using parchment paper. Cut two strips, one the length and one the width of your pan.
- Line pan or bowl with enough damp cheesecloth so that some extra hangs over the sides. If using parchment paper, layer strips so all inner surfaces of the pan are covered.
- Place pistachios in the bottom of the pan or bowl on top of the cheesecloth.
- Spoon a quarter of the mascarpone cheese on top of the pistachios and spread out to form an even layer.
- Spoon half of the pesto on top of the mascarpone and spread out to form an even layer. Take care not to press to hard and squish the mascarpone into the pesto. The idea is to keep the layers separate and distinct.
- Repeat this layering process until you have three layers of mascarpone and two layers of pesto.
- Place the torte in the refrigerator to chill and set for at least an hour
- Place your serving dish on top of the torte and flip it over.
- Gently lift the pan/bowl and pull on the edges of the cheesecloth until the torte slides onto the plate.
- Peel off the cheesecloth.
- May be refrigerated up to 24 hours before serving.