This is such a wonderful appetizer. It’s very easy to make, is an absolute stunner, and tastes divine. I went to college at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!) and if you wanted to go to a fancy-ish dinner on a college budget you went to DePalma’s Italian Cafe downtown. My favorite appetizer to get there was their Three Cheese Tort, which inspired this. (I may be well removed from college but you can still go to DePalma’s and get this appetizer.) I love goat cheese and actually goat cheese is not one of the three cheeses in the original dish. The problem I often find with goat cheese is that it lacks a certain creaminess when you eat it. I combat this by combining it with cream cheese. This gives it a wonderful flavor and smooth creamy texture. Store bought sun-dried tomatoes are the top of my tart followed by a layer of cheese and then a layer of black olive tapenade. I prefer Kalamata olive tapenade. I have found it so hard to find in my area. Most places have green tapenade. So I use this recipe from Serious Eats that you can use too if you have trouble finding the store bought variety. I just replace the black olives their recipe calls for with pitted Kalamata olives. It whips up easily in my food processor.
If you are looking for a good model the one I recommend is on Amazon. Cuisinart is known for their food processors. It’s a great basic model. I prefer the 14 cup to the other models because you will never be hindered on size.
This appetizer is a showstopper in presentation but does not require any great skill. You can use a bowl for your mold, I’ve done that before. I tend to prefer the look of the squared off edges that I get from a large ramekin. You can use a plastic tupperware as well. I’ve even used a large mug before. You line your mold with plastic wrap or foil, them layer in the tomatoes, followed by half the cheese mixture, then your tapenade layer, and the rest of the cheese. Pat it all in and fold the remaining plastic wrap over the top. Put it in the fridge to chill for at least an hour. Then invert it on a plate and pull the mold off then carefully peel off the plastic wrap. I like to serve mine with little toasts, but pita crackers are delicious with it too.
One last thing, if olives aren’t your thing substitute the tapenade layer with a layer of pesto! I’ve done that before as well and it is still really delicious.
- 4 oz Cream cheese, room temp
- 4 oz herb and garlic goat cheese, room temp
- ½ C sun dried tomatoes, drained and diced
- ⅓ C olive tapenade
- 3 Basil leaves (optional), roughly chopped
- Line a large mug, large ramekin or small bowl with plastic wrap and leave enough around the edge to cover the top when you are done assembling. The diameters on my "molds" have been anywhere from 4"-6".
- Mix the two cheese together in a bowl until well combined. Set aside.
- Start with the sun dried tomatoes and pack them tightly into the bottom of the mold.
- Top the tomatoes with half of the cheese mixture. Smooth it with the back of a spoon or mini spatula until it is relatively even.
- Then put the tapenade in the mold. Smooth that evenly on top of the cheese.
- Put the remaining cheese mixture into the mold and smooth it evenly down. Pull the remaining plastic wrap around the top so it covers the cheese and place the entire thing in the fridge for at least an hour.
- When ready to serve invert the mold onto a serving plate. Carefully pull the bowl, mug, or ramekin off then gently pull away the plastic wrap. Top with the basil leaves and serve with crackers, toasts, or pita chips.