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Cheese ball works great for parties; leftovers make a mean pasta sauce


May 11, 2005 - It's easy to see why cheese balls have never gone out of style. They're simple to prepare and serve, delicious, and everyone loves them.

Equally suited to both casual and formal get-togethers, cheese balls can be made ahead of time and set out just before guests arrive. This recipe features a flavorful mix of California cow's milk cheeses, including such favorites as cheddar and ricotta.

Feel free to substitute other California cheeses that you enjoy. You're limited only by your imagination.

Quick to assemble and surprisingly versatile, cheese balls can be prepared several days in advance; in fact, storage in the refrigerator for a day or two only improves their flavor.

They're also a great way to use those remaining pieces of cheese that invariably gather in the refrigerator.

To serve, shape the cheese mixture into a festive ball or log shape, or pack into a small crock or bowl with the coating ingredients pressed on top.

And here's a delicious idea: after the party guests have gone home, you can use leftover cheese balls for a tasty and quick pasta sauce.

Just crumble the cheese ball mixture over cooked hot pasta and toss with fresh tomatoes, chopped olives or fresh herbs. Use up to one cup of cheese ball mixture per half-pound of dried pasta.

California Cheese Ball

with Onions and Walnuts

Yields 2 cheese balls

4 ounces (½ cup) cream cheese

4 ounces (½ cup) ricotta

1 teaspoon freshly ground

black pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

12 ounces (3 cups) grated

sharp cheddar

½ cup finely chopped green onion

½ cup cooked,

crumbled bacon (optional)

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, or in a food processor, combine cream cheese, ricotta, pepper and salt. Beat or process until blended and smooth.

Add cheddar, ¼ cup green onion and crumbled bacon. Beat vigorously until ingredients are evenly mixed.

If using a food processor, take care not to over mix; cheddar mixture should retain some of its texture.

While chilling the mixture is not essential, it will be easier to shape if refrigerated for two to three hours at this point.

Combine walnuts with the remaining ¼ cup of chopped green onions and spread on a large plate or sheet of waxed paper.

Dampen your hands with water to keep cheese mixture from sticking to them.

Divide mixture in half, then pat and press each half into a ball about 3 inches across; don't worry about keeping the shape perfect.

Roll each ball in nut and onion mixture, patting the coating gently onto ball. Wrap each ball separately in plastic wrap and chill until serving.

  • Pitch It & Forget It
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