Sun-dried Tomato Cheesecake

My fiance would tell you that I have a slightly scary obsession with food, which I guess if that means you are constantly thinking about what you want to cook/eat next and what flavors you want to experiment with-then I’m guilty!  I get slightly giddy about the meal I’m going to spend hours cooking and then devouring, and then add a glass of wine and it’s a perfect evening.  Therefore to me the appetizer course is a very overlooked by very important part of a meal.  You want something that wets your appetite but doesn’t weigh your stomach down and leave you not wanting dinner.  Believe me there is a place in this world for a fabulous dip and chips but a light cheese and cracker before a more elegant dinner is perfect.  Cheese and crackers doesn’t have to be a boring wedge with crackers scattered around either, you can use your imagination to create an elaborate display.  This is no means an elaborate display but a savory cheesecake is one of my favorite elements on a cheese platter.  This cheesecake contains two of my favorite flavor profiles-basil and sundried tomatoes. It’s fairly easy to make and your guests have an elegant substitute for a wedge of cheese that is light and leaves them wanting more, which let’s be honest, after laboring over dinner you want them to enjoy that just as much!

Sun-dried Tomato Cheesecake

adapted from Cooking Light

Crust: 

  • 5  (1-ounce) slices whole wheat bread
  • 1/2  cup  chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  grated lemon rind
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 1  teaspoon  extravirgin olive oil
  • 1  garlic clove, minced

Filling:

  • 1 1/4  cups  sun-dried tomato halves, packed without oil (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 1/4  cups cottage cheese
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
  • 1  tablespoon  all-purpose flour
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 4  (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese
  • 2  large egg whites
  • 1/4  cup  coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2  cup  drained canned artichoke hearts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°.

Line bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment.

To prepare crust, place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse breadcrumbs measure 2 cups. Combine breadcrumbs, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, rind, and pepper in a medium bowl. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add oil and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add butter mixture to breadcrumbs; stir with a fork. Press breadcrumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

To prepare filling, cover sun-dried tomatoes with boiling water in a bowl; let stand 30 minutes or until soft. Drain and finely chop.

Place cottage cheese in a food processor; process until smooth. Add lemon juice and next 5 ingredients (through egg whites); process until smooth. Add tomatoes, basil, and artichoke; process until well blended. Pour cream cheese mixture into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until almost set; let cool to room temperature. Cover and chill; cut into 24 wedges. Serve at room temperature with Melba toast rounds or crackers of your choice.

 

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