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Creamy Roasted Tomato and Basil Dip

A week ago I needed to come up with a recipe for my large family reunion. I wanted something that most people would enjoy, could feed a crowd, had a summer flair and wouldn't cost me a bundle to make. After all, there were close to 60 people there. As is the case every summer, I had an abundance of tomatoes from my garden, so I wanted to come up with a way to use them. I have been roasting the tomatoes a lot lately. Although they are sweet enough this time of year and don't really need the roasting to bring out the sweet flavors, like in the winter, I just love them. They get a little char, their natural sugars come out, and it can almost make a little sauce. I didn't put too many ingredients in this recipe since summer should be all about ease. I served it with just some French bread. I was going to toast it all, but again, that seemed like too much work. It would be great with chips or even some veggies.

Ingredients 6 8oz packages of Cream Cheese (I use Neufchatel to cut calories) 5-6 cups fresh, low water content, Tomatoes (I used a combo of Roma and Cherry) 3 Tbsp Olive Oil plus more for drizzle 2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar (more to taste) 12 leaves of fresh Basil plus more for garnish. Salt Pepper Bread or chips for dipping Instructions You want to start by roasting your tomatoes. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Core your tomatoes. (If you are using cherry tomatoes you don't need to do this). Place all of your tomatoes on a baking sheet or in a large baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. You want to roast the tomatoes until they start to break down and get a little char. This should be between 20 to 35 minutes. If you aren't seeing any char, you can place the tomatoes under the broiler for a couple of minutes when you are done roasting them. Let your tomatoes cool. You will make this dip in a food processor or strong blender. Hold out enough tomatoes to decorate the top of your dip. About a cup will most likely do the job. Place the rest of your tomatoes, along with all of the tomato juice from the pan, into your food processor. Add in two packages of cream cheese, olive oil, balsamic, and season with salt and pepper. Puree until the mixture starts to incorporate. If the mixture is too thick to be processed, add a little milk or water. You don't want to burn out your motor with a thick dip. Now put in your next two bricks of cream cheese. Puree again until incorporated. At this point you should taste the mixture. Adjust your salt, pepper and even the balsamic. Some people like a little more acid. You could even add some more basil leaves if the flavor isn't strong enough for you. Take the remaining two blocks of cream cheese and spread them evenly over the bottom of a deep 8x8 or 9x9 pan. Now pour your dip mixture on top. Finally, decorate the dip with the remaining roasted tomatoes and basil leaves. Serve with bread. This dip can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until needed.

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