Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cheese Ball with Cumin, Mint, & Pumpkin Seeds

We served this as a Thanksgiving appetizer, and it's really a great item to feed a lot of people at any fall or winter gathering.  The creaminess of the cheese mixed with the acidity of the lemon, freshness of the mint, and spiciness of the cumin all blend together and go great on crackers.  And the ball is coated in toasted pumpkin seeds to make a beautiful presentation.  Recipe adapted from Serious Eats.
8 oz cream cheese (one package)
6 oz goat cheese
zest of one lemon
1 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Gouda cheese
1 t coriander
2 t cumin
1/2 cup finely sliced or chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
fresh ground black pepper & kosher salt
1/2 cup roasted salted pumpkin seeds, coarsely chopped
Crackers for serving

Mix cream cheese and goat cheese together until blended and creamy. Next, add the lemon juice and zest. Then fold in the two grated cheeses and mix until combined.
Next, add in the spices, celery, mint and salt and pepper to taste.  I did at least 1/4 t of pepper and 1 t salt.
fresh mint
Once all the ingredients are incorporated, scoop the ball onto some plastic wrap, form into a circle, and wrap it up and place in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours. 
Meanwhile, prepare your pumpkin seeds if you didn't buy them pre-toasted. (Note: the seeds you get from a pumpkin have the shells on them... You only want to use the actual seed in this recipe so I suggest buying them husked.  Other types of nuts would work fine as well if you can't find them) I heated ours in a cast iron skillet with olive oil and salt for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until turning golden brown.  Then I coarsely chopped them once they had cooled slightly.  When the cheese ball is done chilling remove it from the fridge, and start rolling it in the pumpkin seeds which should be placed in a shallow bowl.
Refrigerate until 30 minutes before you are ready to use.  Serve with plain crackers or pita chips. 

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