Layered Cheese Torta with Pesto


Layers of aromatic pesto and delicate cheese make this simple appetizer, truly dramatic. Found in Sunset magazine this Totra has been so popular due to it’s ease and impressive presentation. Like the traditional tortas of Italy, serve with crisp toast or fresh seasonal vegetables.

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Makes 16 servings
prep time:
1 hour
total time:
2 hours

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Layered Cheese Torta with Pesto photo Save this recipe 1
Makes 16 servings
prep time:
1 hour
total time:
2 hours


  • Easy Pesto (recipe follows)
  • 2 8oz. packages of cream cheese or Nuefchâtel cheese.
  • 1 1/2 cups of unsalted butter (do not use margarine),at room temperature
  • Basil sprigs
  • Toasted baguette slices and/or seasonal vegetables.
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  • 1

    Prepare Easy Pesto and set aside. In a large bowl beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until smoothly blended.

  • 2

    Line mold with a double thickness of cheesecloth(make sure it is large enough to hang over sides of mold) which has been moistened with water and rung dry.

  • 3

    With a rubber spatula, spread a sixth of the cheese mixture in mold. Cover with a fifth of pesto, spreading it evenly to sides of mold. Repeat until all cheese and pesto are gone,finishing with a cheese layer.

  • 4

    Fold ends of cloth over mold; press down lightly with hands to compact. Refrigerate until firm (1 to 1 1/2 hours); unfold cloth and invert torta onto serving dish.

  • 5

    To serve, garnish with basil sprigs and serve toasted baguette and vegetables.

  • 6

    Easy Pesto

  • 7

    In blender or food processor,combine

  • 8

    2 1/2 cups of lightly packed fresh basil leaves., 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and 1/3 cup of olive oil. Whirl to form a paste. Stir in 1/4 cup of pine nuts; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Recipe Notes

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You can simplify this recipe by using store bought pesto. A perfect appetizer for holiday celebrations, as it can be made up to five days ahead and refrigerated.

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