Here is a recipe that is probably too late for Christmas, but would be a great item for a New Year’s party. This is an awesome spread and really very easy to make, just read through the recipe before you start. Don’t be daunted because it’s called a cheesecake. Don’t worry if you don’t have a special cheesecake pan with removable sides. You could bake this in an 8-inch casserole dish and then just serve it in the dish. Don’t worry if you don’t have breadcrumbs, I made it this year without and it was fine, they just help it release from the cheesecake pan. This recipe is easy to halve. I bought a set of 4-inch cheesecake pans a few years ago and half of this recipe fits nicely in one of those and is a nice size for a small party. If you halve it, just bake a little less time. You want to bake this until it barely jiggles. If you see it puff up real high and is very cracked it baked too long, but it will still be okay, this is a hard recipe to ruin.
Dry Breadcrumbs½ cup pesto sauce (I use the Classico jar variety) 1 pound cream cheese, softened (calls for ricotta, but I like the smooth texture of cream cheese)½ cup sour cream 4 large eggs 1 tsp salt½ tsp grated lemon zest½ tsp ground black pepper Topping:½ cup sour cream 12 sun-dried tomato halves in oil, drained and chopped (I just bought a jar of julienne-sliced tomatoes, so I didn’t have to chop them)
Lightly butter an 8-inch springform pan and dust the bottom and sides with the breadcrumbs. Mix the next 7 ingredients together in a bowl. You can use a hand mixer, stand mixer, or a whisk. It’s probably best to beat the cream cheese by itself for a minute to make sure it’s smooth before adding the next 6 ingredients. I didn’t do this and had some cream cheese lumps that I had to whisk out. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake in a water bath for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the water bath and transfer to a rack to cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until cold, 6 to 12 hours. Slide a thin-bladed knife around the outside of the cake and remove the outer ring. Spread the sides with more of the pesto sauce. Spread the top with the sour cream and arrange the chopped tomatoes on top.
Serve as a spread (cold or at room temperature) on crackers or fresh-baked French Bread slices.