Thursday, September 1, 2011

Back to Basics: Pimento Cheese

So often on my blog I post twists, variations, and "amped up" versions of classic dishes.  But recently I've been getting requests for my favorite recipes for things like sandwich bread, pizza dough, chocolate chip cookies, etc.  And while I do make these things quite often, for some reason I never feel compelled to post them.  I've always assumed that everyone else has their own "go-to" recipes for these things, so would they really care to see mine?  Well maybe not, but I've decided to share them with you anyway :-).  So I've started a new series called "Back to Basics," in which I'll be highlighting my favorite recipes for.... the basics.  Or what I consider to be basics for my kitchen in any case.

I realize that some people may think pimento cheese is a weird dish to start out highlighting for this series, but for me, it really is a basic recipe.  I have made this countless times, and it is my go-to appetizer to serve when we have friends over, go to potlucks, or just to keep in the fridge for when the craving strikes.  Oftentimes I've made a dish using pimento cheese, or highlighting it in a different way, so I thought I'd share my base recipe.  For those of you unfamiliar with this southern delicacy, pimento cheese is simply extra sharp cheddar mixed with pimentos (or roasted red peppers), just enough mayonnaise to hold it together, and a few seasonings.  It is most classically enjoyed on a sandwich or spread on crackers, but I've made it my life's mission to find as many other ways to serve it as well.

One of the many wonderful things about pimento cheese is that it's open to so many adaptations:
  • make it extra spicy by using half pepperjack cheese, and a roasted poblano pepper instead of pimentos
  • add crumbled bacon
  • substitute some of the cheddar for goat cheese
  • add some fresh herbs
  • add a spoonful of horseradish for a kick
  • add some chopped dill pickles or relish
  • shred an apple and add that to the mix for a sweet-savory combo
My version of pimento cheese doesn't really call for anything special, aside from the addition of Greek yogurt.  Because I'm not a huge fan of mayo, I like to cut the flavor with the yogurt, plus it makes it a tad bit healthier.  As I said, this is just my base recipe, so feel free to adjust the seasonings and spices to your taste. 

Pimento Cheese, My Way
Pink Parsley Original
  • 8oz. extra sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 4 oz. diced pimientos
  • 2 Tbs Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbs mayonnaise (light is fine)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
Drain the pimientos and pat dry with a paper towel.

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients, and use a rubber spatula to combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference.  Before serving, refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld.


Shawnda said...

I always like seeing how other people do their pimento cheese! There's a horseradish white cheddar that I put in for a little extra kick - I have a hard time not eating it all first :)

Sarah from 20somethingcupcakes said...

Yum! For some reason, I've been wanting to do a totally Southern feast lately. Will have to try this. And PS, I love what you wrote about people wanting your everyday recipes. I am going to email you something related to this!

Bridget said...

You know, there's been a lot of talk about pimento cheese lately, and I didn't really know what it was. (Clearly I have never been to the South.) So this was very useful for me; thanks!

Nicole@HeatOvenTo350 said...

Hooray for pimento cheese! I love some of the different ingredients you've used in yours. I'm going to give it a try!

Kathleen @ the lushers said...

I have a serious love affair with pimento cheese! It's amazing to see how such a simple food has so many variations. I love mine with some garlic & jalapeño mixed in. I've put horseradish in, too & you are the only other person I've heard mention that! It's delicious!

Cate said...

Another Southern food I still haven't tried but really need to! I actually have everything I need on hand, so it just might happen today!

Grace said...

My boyfriend loves pimento cheese! I'll have to try and make this for him.

Nicole-The Galley Gourmet said...

Hey, Josie,
Great post! Pimento cheese weird-- not in our house. Pimento cheese is like the butter of the South. My only conundrum-- is it Pimento, Pimiento, or as we pronounce it-- "Puh-ment-ah"? Anyway-- it's good!

Kelsey said...

LOVE pimento cheese! When I was a kid, half a pimento cheese sandwich on white bread and some apple slices were all I needed!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm love this! I need to make this soon!

Amy (Sing For Your Supper) said...

Can't. Wait. To. Try. This.

Nicole, RD said...

I've never had pimento cheese anything...but with that ingredient list, what's not to love?!

Jessica @Sunny Side Up said...

REALLY excited to try this!

spcookiequeen said...

Hi Josie,
Glad I found this recipe and your beautiful site. I've been wondering what the heck to do with these beautiful pimento peppers they have at my local farmstand. Not being from the South, I wasn't quite sure. Will try this soon, thanks and hope you have a great rest of the week.

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