This layered Tricolour Spinach Sun Dried Tomatoes Pesto Dip is an easy yet impressive appetizer that can be prepared in minutes. Most noteworthy, there is no cooking and it can be prepared in advance. Just keep it refrigerated until ready to use.
In the ancient Roman era,pesto was made by crushing garlic, salt, cheese, herbs, olive oil and vinegar together. Then in the middle ages, in Genoa which is a small place in northern Italy, pesto was basically a mash of garlic and walnuts, as garlic was included as a staple diet. Consequently,in the 19th century, due to the abundant growth of basil in the regions of Liguria,Italy,and Provence,France, basil became the main ingredient of modern pesto. However, since basil is a seasonal plant, marjoram and parsley are suggested as alternatives. So this was a brief introduction to the evolution of pesto.
It might surprise you that pesto did not become popular in North America until the 1980s and 1990s.There are many non-traditional variations of pesto. Because of the availability and the cost, pine nuts are substituted with walnuts, cashews and other similar nuts. Also since pesto is anything that can be crushed or pounded, spinach can be used instead of basil and vegetable oil in place of olive oil.
This layered Tricolour Spinach Sun Dried Tomatoes Pesto Dip is a non-traditional pesto. The orange color pesto is made of sun dried tomatoes, olive oil, walnuts and cream cheese. Red pepper and salt are added to the taste. The middle white layer pesto consists of parmesan cheese and cream cheese. The bottom green pesto is made from spinach, roasted almonds, garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese.
- For the orange layer :
- ⅓ cup sun dried tomatoes
- 2 tbsp walnuts
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 1 ripe tomatoes roughly chopped
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- 3 ounces softened cream cheese
- salt as per taste
- For the white layer:
- 4 ounces softened cream cheese
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- For the green layer:
- 8 ounces baby spinach leaves
- ¾ cup roasted almonds
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled and finely chopped or grated
- ½ cups finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 jalapenos( adjust as per your taste, I like a bit spicy)
- salt as per taste
- ½ tsp cayenne (adjust as per taste)
- ½ cup olive oil
- line a 3 cup bowl or mold with plastic wrap. Keep it aside.
- To make the orange layer, grind together sun dried tomatoes, walnuts, tomatoes, crushed red pepper and the cream cheese. Add olive oil through the feed tube and process until the mixture is thoroughly combined. Add salt to taste if desired.
- Spread the pesto mixture into the bottom of the mold and let it cool in the refrigerator for atleast 30 minutes.
- To make the white layer, combine parmesan cheese and cream cheese in a medium size bowl. Whisk by spoon till the ingredients blend together and form a smooth creamy mixture.
- Spread the white layer on top of the orange layer and chill for atleast 30 minutes.
- To make green layer, wash and clean the spinach leaves with water. Coarsely grind the lemon juice, half of spinach leaves, roasted almonds, jalapenos and garlic in a mixer or food processor for 2-3 minutes, with little water. Add the parmesan cheese and pulse the mixer again. Scrape the sides in between, add olive oil through the feed tube and grind the mixture into a smooth, creamy paste.
- Spread the green layer on top of the white layer in the mold.
- Cover the mold with plastic wrap and chill for atleast 2 hours.
- To serve, invert the mold onto a plate and remove the plastic wrap. Serve with vegetables, crackers and chips.