Savory Appetizer Cheesecakes Series :: Eggplant Cheesecake with Kalamata Olive Tapenade
Nearly 15 years ago, a friend who’d worked at Martin Wine Cellar gave me a recipe for their crawfish cheesecake that I’ve since tweaked and made my own. I’ve also played with close to a dozen variations over the years, but this was the very first. It’s still a crowd-pleaser.
Roasted Eggplant Cheesecake with Kalamata Olive Tapenade
For the Cheesecake:
3 8-ounce blocks cream cheese, very soft
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
1 cup feta cheese crumbles
1 tablespoon Greek or Italian seasoning, or more to taste
1 tablespoon garlic salt
2 medium-large eggplants
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
Salt & pepper, to taste
For the Topping:
1 jar Kalamata olives, drained
4-5 leaves basil
This recipe will use a 9-inch springform pan or 2 6-inch springform pans. I like to remove the bottom and wrap it in a layer of foil and then put the pan back together so that I can easily slide it onto a serving plate. Grease it well to ensure the cheesecake will come out.
Roughly cube the eggplant and spread out on a foil-covered baking sheet. Drizzle with olive and toss with your hands, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 425-degree oven for about 40 minutes and lightly brown. Set aside to cool a bit.
Melt the butter and then add your breadcrumbs and mix well. Press into the bottom of the springform pan. Set aside.
Place your roasted eggplant in a food processor (draining any moisture off, if necessary) and grind until it’s a thick paste.
Normally I like to sauté the onion in my recipes, but I find that just nuking the diced onion for 30-45 seconds is enough to soften it. (It will cook during the baking process anyway.) Put cream cheese in the mixer and let it mix until it is softened. Add each egg, one at a time, and then the yolk. Add the Greek or Italian seasoning and garlic salt. Add the sour cream and continue to mix. Add the onion, shredded Italian cheese blend, feta cheese, and eggplant and continue to mix until it is well combined.
Pour the cheesecake batter into the pan. Cover with foil to prevent over browning. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 50 minutes, checking often. It shouldn’t be very wiggly and should be light brown on top, with a knife inserted into the center coming out clean. Don’t be surprised if it takes longer than an hour to bake — I’ve made some that took almost 90 minutes, so just watch it carefully. (The smaller 6-inch pans sometimes take nearly 2 hours!) Do not despair if the cheesecake cracks — you’re topping it when you serve it! The cheesecake needs to sit in the pan until it is completely set, so do not take it out ahead of time. Chill in the refrigerator overnight. Take it out about an hour before you want to serve it and immediately before serving, spread the top of the cheesecake with the topping (directions below). Serve with bagel or pita chips, crostini, or crackers.
For the topping: Pulse drained olives and basil leaves in a food processor until uniform (it should be about the consistency of a thick pesto).