Magazine article Sunset

Cheese Combinations as Quick Appetizers

Magazine article Sunset

Cheese Combinations as Quick Appetizers

Article excerpt

Need an appetizer in a hurry? Cheese is a convenient answer. It's ready to eat, appeals to a wide range of tastes, and is easy to dress up for a custom-made took.

Simple seasonings, shaping, or heating can transform a cheese, giving it a different flavor or texture, Here are three combinations that take only a few minutes to assemble. And you can make the first two a day ahead.

Pesto Cheese Spread

Offer with crisp breadsticks, red bell pepper strips, and cucumber slices.

1/3 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds

8 ounces (about 1 cup) ricotta

cheese, at room temperature

8 ounces neufchatel cheese (about 1

cup) or mascarpone, at room

temperature

1/3 cup pesto, purchased or

homemade

Salt

Place nuts in a 9-inch pie or cake pan and bake in a 350' oven until golden, 6 to 8 minutes; shake occasionally, Set aside.

Meanwhile, with a mixer or food processor, beat ricotta, neufchatel, and pesto until well blended. Add salt to taste. Stir in half the nuts. (If made ahead, cover and chill until next day. To serve, let warm to room temperature for best flavor.) Mound cheese mixture on a plate. Sprinkle with remaining nuts. Makes about 2 cups, 10 to 12 appetizer servings.

Per tablespoon: 47 cal.; 2.1 g protein; 4.1 g fat; 0.1 g carbo.; 45 mg sodium; 9.4 mg chol.

Prosciutto-topped Brie

Even firm brie melts smoothly when baked If You let it stand, hold on a warming tray to keep cheese fluid. Offer crisp toasted baguette slices and celery sticks to eat with it. …

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