Baked cheese with herb pesto
- March 2013
- 250g soft-rind cheese in a box, at room temperature
- 5 fresh bay leaves
- 2 tsp dry white wine
- 500g small new potatoes, scrubbed
- 1 small rustic loaf, such as ciabatta, sourdough or French stick
- 1 garlic clove, halved
- 100g small gherkins
- 75g thinly sliced air-dried ham, such as parma or serrano (optional)
For the herb pesto
- 40g mixed young green leaves (such as watercress, spinach, wild garlic, dandelion and rocket), large stalks removed
- 10g fresh basil leaves
- 10g mixed fresh young herb leaves (such as flatleaf parsley, thyme or lemon thyme and sage)
- 1 small garlic clove, crushed
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 15g parmesan, finely grated
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7. Take the cheese out of its box and remove the paper, then put 2 of the bay leaves into the base of the box. Rub the outside of the cheese with ½ tsp of the wine, then put it back into the box. Pierce the top of the cheese 3-4 times with a fine skewer, then drizzle over another ½ tsp of the wine. Tuck the remaining bay leaves down the sides of the cheese, then replace the lid. Wrap the box in foil, then bake on a baking sheet for 15-25 minutes until the cheese is liquid inside and almost erupting from its rind.
- Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 10-12 minutes until tender.
- To make the herb pesto, put the green leaves and herbs into a food processor with the crushed garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt. Blend to a slightly coarse paste, then scoop it into a bowl and stir in the parmesan with a little more seasoning to taste.
- Thinly slice the bread, then toast on both sides. Lightly rub with the halved garlic clove, then spread with a little of the pesto.
- Remove the foil and lid from the cheese. Push back the rind with a fork, then drizzle the remaining 1 tsp wine over the cheese with a grinding of black pepper. Serve drizzled over the pesto toasts,or as a fondue with the remaining pesto and the potatoes, pesto toasts, cornichons and air-dried ham for dipping.
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