Italian-flavored Cheese Ball

From Tracey Greaves, Catering Manager, Santa Clarita Valley School Food Service Agency

Just as good at family parties as it is at staff and faculty parties at school!

  • Basil-Tomato Sauce
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can whole tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 (7 ounce) jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped


  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons pesto sauce
  • 9 (1 ounce) slices Muenster or mozzarella cheese, divided

For sauce, drain whole tomatoes, reserving 1/4 cup liquid. Chop and set aside. Cook onion and garlic in oil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until tender. Stir in chopped tomato, reserved liquid, bay leaves, sugar, and basil. Bring to a boil reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, 3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Remove and discard bay leaves. Stir in dried tomatoes. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

With electric mixer at medium speed beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add Parmesan cheese and pesto: beat until mixture is smooth. Set aside. Cut 5 slices Muenster cheese in half diagonally; cut remaining 4 slices in half crosswise. Line a 3-cup bowl or mold with plastic wrap, allowing edges to hang over sides 6 to 7 inches. Arrange cheese triangles in a pinwheel shape, slightly overlapping edges to line bottom of bowl. Spread half of cream cheese mixture over cheese slices in bowl; top with half of Basil-Tomato Sauce. Arrange 4 cheese rectangles over tomato mixture. Repeat layers with remaining cream cheese mixture, sauce, and cheese rectangles. Fold plastic wrap over top, sealing securely. Place a small cast iron skillet for other heavy object on top to compact the layers. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 3 days.

To serve, invert onto serving plate; carefully remove plastic wrap. Serve with crackers.

Makes 3 cups

Nutrition facts per serving (1 1/2 tablespoons): 90 cal (74% cal. from fat), 8g total fat (4g sat fat, 2g mono, <1g poly), 15mg chol., 150mg sodium, 3g carbo., <1g fiber, 3g pro. Daily Values: 8% vit. A, 15% vit. C, 10% calcium, 2% iron, 4% potassium.