Savory Mediterranean Cheesecake

Everyone loves Cheesecake!  Instead of a sweet cheesecake I made this savory dish for a book group meeting and it was a big hit.  This cheesecake is extra savory with 10 cloves garlic and fresh herbs. (You can use dried too!)  Oh did I mention tangy feta cheese? Cheesecake savory or sweet is very, very rich so just eat a small slice with this deliciously creamy texture so satisfying.  And you can change up the ingredients very easily to match the season. For Christmas try I'll use sun dried tomatoes or in the summer use sauteed vegetables

Savory Mediterranean Cheese Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare Parmigiana crust.
Parmigiana Crust:
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 cup toasted Panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

Mix cheese, bread crumbs, rosemary and butter in a small bowl.  Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan.  Chill.

Prepare Cheesecake Filling

Savory Filling:
10 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/4 cup olive oil
3 packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream or 8 ounces of creme fraiche
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
3 eggs
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh chervil
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 cup chopped kalamata  olives
2 egg whites, at room temperature
Additional slice olives for decoration

Place the unpeeled cloves garlic in small ovenproof dish and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until soft.  Set aside to cool.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325 F.
Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skins and mash with oil to a puree.  Combine garlic, cream cheese, sour cream, feta cheese, eggs, and flour in a mixture. Beating for about 2 minutes.  Add herbs(if you don't have fresh herbs use 1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence), beat 1 minute.  Stir in olives.
In a clean bowl, bead egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into cream cheese mixture.

Pour cheesecake batter into the chilled crust.  Use additional olives to decorate the top of the cheesecake batter.

Place cheesecake in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes.  When done the cake will have risen and the center will be almost set.  Turn the oven off.  Let the cheesecake remain in the oven for 1 hour longer.  Remove the cheesecake and set on a rack for an additional 1 1/2 hours.  After cooled remove the outer ring of the spring form pan. 
Serve at room temperature or cover and refrigerate overnight.  Remove cheesecake from refrigerator for at least two hours before serving.



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