Emeril's Southwest Cheesecake with Cilantro Pesto

Total Time:
1 hr 6 min
1 hr
6 min

16 servings

  • 1 cup finely crushed tortilla chips (about half of a 13 1/2-ounce bag)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 3/4 cup chopped red bell peppers
  • 3/4 cup chopped yellow bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup minced jalapenos
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons Emeril's Southwest Essence, recipe follows
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces sour cream
  • 5 large eggs
  • 6 ounces grated Cheddar
  • 1/2 cup grated Manchego or Parmesan
  • Simply Salsa, recipe follows
  • Cilantro Pesto, recipe follows
  • Emeril's Southwest Seasoning:
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Simply Salsa:
  • 1/2 cup chopped red or yellow onions
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped, or 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained
  • Cilantro Pesto:
  • 2 cups tightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup grated Manchego or Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

  • Combine the chips and butter in a small bowl and mix to blend. Press the mixture into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Set aside.

  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, 1 teaspoon Southwest Essence, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds longer. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

  • Season the chicken with 1 1/2 teaspoons Essence. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring often, for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

  • Add the cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs to a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until very smooth. Using a rubber spatula, fold the vegetables, chicken, grated cheeses, remaining 2 tablespoons Essence, and remaining tablespoon salt into the cream cheese mixture. Pour the mixture into the springform pan and bake until the center has set, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool on a wire rack. When cool, transfer to the refrigerator to chill thoroughly before serving.

Emeril's Southwest Seasoning:
  • Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

  • Yield: 1/2 cup

Simply Salsa:
  • Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse about 12 times. The mixture should be slightly chunky. Transfer the salsa to a bowl, cover, and set aside until ready to use. Can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.

  • Yield: 3 cups

Cilantro Pesto:
  • Combine the cilantro, pumpkin seeds, and garlic in a food processor or blender. Puree on high speed. Add the cheese, black pepper, and salt and process to combine. Scrape down the sides of the processor. With the machine running, add the olive oil. Blend until well combined.

  • Yield: 1 1/4 cups

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