Sun Dried Tomato, Basil, & Brie Spread

This week has been unseasonably warm. So warm, in fact, the Upper Midwest has tossed aside the winter jackets and scarves, burying them deep into the coat closets, opting for shorts and flip-flops instead. Summer in March, if only for a few days. While I've been soaking up the hot weather and warm breezes, running around in flowing skirts, I can't shake the feeling that Mother Nature is going to make me pay for this untimely gift, in some form or another.

Blizzards and ice storms in May? It wouldn't be the first time.

This newly encountered Summer in March is like a Spot the Difference! game in a child's doodle book. The grass is brown and dead. The branches on the trees are stripped bare, without the bright green buds of spring. The neighbor's home still has Christmas lights winding around the railing of the front step. The earliest signs of spring haven't arrived, leaving the appearance of the world still in the midst of winter.

If not for the cars driving past, with the windows rolled down and the music drifting into the street, or the girls suntanning in swimsuits in front yards of neighboring houses, you'd never know it was 80 degrees F outside my window. Summer in March, you are giving me mixed signals.

Even so, I've embraced this heatwave by eating the quintessential summer foods. I've taken the cover off the grill. I finally purchased fresh fruits that weren't apples and oranges (Hello strawberries and watermelon! It's been too long). I made frozen yogurt for the very first time. The last few days have been mood healing.

One of my favorite end-of-summer meals is a garden fresh tomato basil pasta with a warm baguette spread with brie cheese. Since summer foods aren't nearly in season, I incorporated this memorable meal in a different way. This Sun Dried Tomato, Basil, & Brie Spread is an homage to those long summer nights, but can (and should) be eaten any day of the year.

This Sun Dried Tomato, Basil, & Brie Spread couldn't be easier to make (and packs a punch of flavor). With a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground pepper, each ingredient is bright and present. Spread thickly onto a cracker, it makes for a simple-to-make appetizer for dinner parties or it can act as a makeshift meal when you simply don't feel like cooking.

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Sun Dried Tomato, Basil, & Brie Spread

Yields about 6 ounces

5 ounces brie cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1 sprig (4-5 large leaves) fresh basil
Coarse sea salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Remove as much of the rind from the brie as possible. In a small mixing bowl, stir together brie, sun dried tomatoes, basil, and salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish. To store, chill in an airtight container.

Serve at room temperature with crackers.