Friends! You cannot conceive of how excited I was to come across this recipe. I know that we shouldn’t indulge in nostalgia and have to keep looking ahead with great optimism and discovering new things but I say, (PINE) NUTS TO THAT! The 80s were my decade. It’s where I spent most of my 20s and where I had most of my fun. I had an exciting college experience, met Better Half, started cooking, got my first real job, went out 4 or 5 nights a week, was making new friends faster than I could count them…[LATE-BREAKING DEVELOPMENT: AND WE DIDN’T HAVE ALL THESE FUCKING SCHOOL SHOOTINGS]
But those days are gone, along with my 31-inch waistline and lustrous chestnut hair. However, I found a way to bring them back, by eating them!
Yes. You see this recipe encompasses five things that people went crazy for in the 80s, though all of them had been around for far longer: goat cheese, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and extra virgin olive oil. If there were a step where you somehow smoked this over mesquite wood chips, after one bite you’d be listening to Bananarama and discussing Iran-Contra.
This is basically just a dip, sadly (which reminds me that the 80s seemed to have a lot of “Mexican” seven-layer dips in restaurants around the nation) but it is surprisingly delicious. You will want to serve this with that other 80s favorite, Stoned Wheat Thins. Yes, they still make these. It would be a good bring-along to any number of summer parties and with Memorial Day just around the corner…
10 oz. goat cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. basil pesto (homemade or store-bought)
5 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Line the inside of a 2-cup bowl (about 4 inches across the top) [I used a small cereal bowl] with plastic; let the ends extend over the sides a few inches. In a mixing bowl, mash the goat cheese and 1/4 cup of the cream with a fork and season with 1/4 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper; add more cream if the cheese hasn’t softened. [Do this by hand. If you put this in a food processor it might get too thin in a kind of glutinous way.]
Spoon about one-third of the cheese into the lined bowl and pack it into an even layer. Spread the pesto almost completely to the sides of the first layer of cheese. Top with another third of the cheese, the sun-dried tomatoes, and all but 1/2 Tbs. of the pine nuts. Top with the remaining cheese. Pack down, fold the plastic over, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Half an hour before serving, take the bowl out of the refrigerator. Pull on the edges of the plastic to loosen the terrine from the bowl. Invert the terrine onto a plate, drizzle with a little olive oil, and let sit for 1/2 hour to warm up. Sprinkle with the remaining pine nuts, season liberally with pepper, and serve.
Since I was only making this for me and the Better Half (this makes 1 1/2 cups) I didn’t see the need to vary. HOWEVER, if this pandemic ever gets to a point where people feel comfortable visiting the Casa Encantada in an un-self-conscious way, especially if they are some of my college cronies, I will at least quadruple this recipe and make it in a Bundt pan, by God. Although I think it was in the 80s that Bundt pans fell out of favor so I will be time-slipping a little.
This reminds me: Have you ever played the original “Trivial Pursuit”? One of the beach houses we rented had an original set and over a piña colada or five we used to play. The original came out in the first half of the 80s. Most of the questions are timeless, but a few require you to time travel, like, “This is the highest-grossing movie ever” or “This performer has the most gold records for a solo artist.” It’s pretty fun if you lived through the era.