Saturday, May 17, 2008

"Tuscan" Gorgonzola Spread

Wegmans (local grocery chain) makes a cheese... spread, I guess you'd call it, sort of a lumpy dip really. They call it Tuscan Gorgonzola Spread, although I have no idea if the Tuscan is because there really is some standard local recipe like this or whether it just sounds like something that would sell. As far as I can tell, it's the latter... anything that has cheese and olives in it and looks kind of like Italian peasant food. Anyway, we love it, but it's expensive, about $11 if you fill up a tub at the olive bar, and I keep thinking that I might be able to make a version that's both better and a little cheaper.

1 large tub cream cheese (not the whipped kind)
About 1/4 cup pitted black olives (go easy on the olives, even if you like them a lot)
1 roasted red pepper
1 tub crumbled Gorgonzola (I'll check the weight on this later.)
olive oil
heavy cream
cayenne pepper
smoked paprika

I think that this is one of those recipes that's going to go through a few iterations to get it right. Mince the red pepper and the olives in a food processor. You want these to be as fine as possible; if you drizzle a little olive oil in, it will make it easier to mince finely. Add about 1/2 teaspoon each of the cayenne and paprika (less if you want a less spicy spread), and then the cream cheese. Drizzle in a little olive oil and heavy cream until you get a texture that you like (thicker for a spread, creamier for a dip). What I actually did at this point was add the cheese and process; this made a very smooth spread, very nice for what we usually use this for (dipping raw vegetables or spreading on meat), but what I think I should have done is just fold the cheese in. This would have given a little more texture.

The verdict? Well, Michael may just be being nice, but his vote was, "just as good as the Wegmans stuff but different." Definitely spicier. But good, and has that same Gorgonzola/olive/roasted pepper flavor. (By the way... I would really go easy on the red pepper and the olives. Resist the temptation to put in more. Both have strong flavors, and can easily be far too much.)

Was it less expensive? A little, but probably not a lot. However, if I'd bought a can of olive instead of some from the olive bar, same thing with the roasted pepper, and bought regular instead of tub cream cheese, I think it might have been about half the price. I'll check this out more later.

Carb content? Well, a whole cup of cream cheese has only 8 carbs, so per serving, this is minimal, and there's very little in the Gorgonzola cheese. 1 large black olive = about 1 net carb (or 2 - 1 fiber carb), and there's less than 1 olive per serving here... and only a trace of the roasted pepper. Overall, this is a very low carb spread.

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