Who says cheesecake is only for dessert? This savory Mediterranean Cheesecake is undoubtedly as addictive as its sweeter cousin. Not too rich, but substantial enough to satisfy, the rich flavor of Parmesan mingles with the mild tang of feta to hit all the right spots for all kinds of partygoers. Unbeatable as an hors d oeuvre or as an accompaniment to soup or salad, it is also a visual showstopper, guaranteed to rock any buffet table it’s invited to.
This recipe is for 1 – 9 inch cheesecake, which will feed a rather large crowd. Because it freezes extremely well, try making two smaller cheesecakes out of one batch. Homemade Cracker Bread is a perfect accompaniment, and is also easily made ahead of time so you have one less thing to worry about on party-day.
Savory Mediterranean Cheesecake
(Fine Cooking Magazine)
1-1/2 C Panko Breadcrumbs
6 Tbsp butter, melted
3/4 C butter
¼ C minced green onion
¼ C chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (10-oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, or enough fresh spinach that has been chopped well and wilted to render approximately 1-1/2 C.
3 – 8 oz packages cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, softened
¼ C heavy whipping cream
4 large eggs
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2 – 2.5 oz cans sliced black olives, drained
1 C grated good-quality Parmesan cheese
1 C crumbled feta cheese
Fresh chopped herbs
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a small bowl, combine panko and melted butter. Press mixture into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (or use two 5-inch springform pans). Bake 8 minutes.
In a medium skillet, melt ¾ C butter over medium high heat. Add onion, parsley, and garlic. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until tender. Add spinach, and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, cream, and eggs at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Divide mixture evenly into two medium bowls. Stir spinach mixture into one-half of cream cheese mixture. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with sliced olives.
Stir Parmesan cheese and feta cheese into other half of cream cheese mixture. Spread cheese mixture evenly over olives. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes (for 9-inch springform; if using smaller pans, adjust time accordingly). Let cool completely in pan. Gently run a knife around edges of pan to release sides. Cover, and chill.
Prior to serving, remove cake from springform ring. Top with a light spread of dairy sour cream, and garnish with a sprinkling of fresh herbs.
Serve cheesecake at room temperature with assorted crackers (try homemade Cracker Bread)
Note: Cheesecake can be made up to one month ahead! Wrap tightly in heavy-duty plastic wrap, and freeze. Simply let come to room temperature before serving.