At a farmer’s market in Northeast Portland a goat farmer was selling her goat cheese in jars, layered with sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts and a variety of other savory, yummy looking things. She called it “party in a jar”. It is not my idea, but I have plenty of home-grown produce that would be perfect for this: pesto made of home grown garlic and basil, and home grown sun-dried tomatoes. It looked so easy to make, and it’s always better when you make it yourself because you get to put exactly what you want into it. To make mine, I used the pesto and tomatoes, plain goat cheese, and pitted olives. I wish I had used pine nuts as well, they are so delicious, but their price right now makes them too hard to buy. Even without the pine nut, my husband David raved over this recipe! He is not one for appetizers, but he couldn’t keep the knife out of the jar when this was on the table! He kept going back to the pantry for more Ritz crackers!
Prepare the sun-dried tomatoes by pouring boiling water over them; leave them steeping for about five minutes. Pour off the water and squeeze any remaining water out of them. Cut coarsely into bite-size pieces if needed. Next, chop the olives into large pieces, cutting them into approximately fourths.
Bring the pesto and the goat cheese to room temperature. You will want to put at least two layers of each ingredient in the jar; if it is a tall jar, you will want more layers. Start with a layer of pesto, then goat cheese, then olives and tomatoes. Repeat layering until you have reached the top of the jar. Add two or three pieces of tomatoes at the top, and drizzle a little olive oil over all. Screw cap on tightly, add labels and tags, and store in refrigerator for no more than two weeks.
Serve on a plate with crackers.
Put all ingredients into a blender and buzz until it becomes a thick paste. You want to be sure the garlic is chopped fine. Freeze in small containers. Or you can freeze the pesto in ice cube trays, then store the frozen pesto cubes in a plastic bag.
If using on pasta, first thaw your pesto cubes and add 3/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (adding the cheese after thawing prevents a grainy texture).
*To use as an ingredient in ‘Party In A Jar’, use the thawed pesto but do not add the grated cheese.