Traditional pesto, which was created in Genoa, is a no-cook sauce made with puréed basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. We used a commercial pesto as a shortcut to create this layered spread. You can make this appetizer as little as one day or as much as one week in advance--the longer it refrigerates, the more flavorful it becomes. Try using sun-dried tomato pesto along with the basil pesto for a festive holiday appetizer.
1 (8-ounce) block fat-free cream cheese
1/3 cup (1 1/3 ounces) shredded provolone cheese
3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
2 tablespoons commercial pesto, divided
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
36 (1/4-inch-thick) slices diagonally cut Italian or French bread baguette
3/4 cup bottled or homemade marinara sauce
How to Make It
Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.
Line a 10-ounce custard cup, small bowl, or 1-cup glass measuring cup with plastic wrap. Spread one-third of cheese mixture into bottom of prepared cup. Top with 1 tablespoon pesto, spreading to cover cream cheese mixture. Repeat procedure with one-third cheese mixture and remaining pesto; top with remaining cheese mixture. Tap cup gently against countertop to compact the layers. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill 8 hours or overnight.
Uncover and invert spread onto a serving plate; remove plastic wrap. Sprinkle sliced basil over top of spread. Serve with baguette slices and marinara sauce.