This simple layered appetizer–so beautiful and sumptuous with its contrasting earthy colors, flavors and textures–is a favorite that I created during my vegetarian days. Back then, I used real goat cheese combined with cream cheese for the base. Omitting goat cheese was a given. But I also decided not to substitute vegan cream cheese, largely because of cost and calories, and to experiment instead with tofu and a few other ingredients to create the creamy bottom layer. I do believe I like the result even better than the original. The rest is the same except that I have since discovered balsamic vinegar reduction from my friend Trish, the genius of Mediterranean cuisine, so I use it in place of plain balsamic vinegar. The reduction is truly nectar of the gods, thick and tangy-sweet. But, if you are in a rush, plain balsamic is delicious too.
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