Growing up one of my mother’s favorite snacks was pimento cheese. Perhaps it’s because we lived in the north (I’ve since learned it’s a longtime southern favorite), but she never made her own. Instead, she bought this small jarred version of pimento cheese. For a special treat for all of us, she’d put tiny squares of rye bread topped with pimento cheese on a plate. I thought they were okay, but as a girl, would have preferred another snack.
I didn’t think about pimento cheese for years until I was at a local restaurant a few months ago and discovered that one of their appetizers is pimento cheese. Curious, I decided to order some. What a revelation! This pimento cheese was tasty, with big chunks of pimento (unlike my mother’s jarred version that was perfectly smooth) and a variety of seasonings, some giving a bit of heat to the mixture. At the restaurant, they serve it with celery pieces, which provide a lovely contrast to the heat of the cheese. Clearly this is not my mother’s pimento cheese.
When I got home I began checking out the web for information about pimento cheese and discovered all kinds of recipes and over Thanksgiving I made a modified version of a recipe at the Texas Co-Op Power site. I loved the addition of green olives and capers to the cheese. I cut back on the mayonnaise (and used a “light” version). I added Tabasco sauce but not jalapenos. And because I’m not overly fond of raw onions I used part of a shallot instead, as I usually find shallots to be quite mild. That’s where I went wrong. I had tasted the cheese before I added the shallot and quite liked it. But I must have picked up a super-strong shallot, because once added it completely overwhelmed the mixture. I put it in the refrigerator overnight hoping the flavors would all meld together, but the onion taste was still overwhelming. Fortunately I discovered that the mixture made a delicious grilled cheese sandwich, so used it that way. But it wasn’t what I’d planned.
I may try the same recipe again over Christmas, but this time will use onion powder rather than raw onions. Alternatively, I’ve found a number of other recipes from basic to more fancy. I found a recipe at allrecipes.com that includes cream cheese, which also sounds interesting. I’ve also seen some recipes where people roast their own red peppers rather than using pimentos; I think I’ll stick with the pimentos.
Have you ever made pimento cheese? If so, what do you like to put in it. And have you ever discovered a completely different version of something your mother prepared?
My first memory is sitting with my mother on a blanket in our backyard surrounded by books and she is reading one of them to me. My love of reading was encouraged by my parents and it continues to today. I’ve gone through a lot of different genres over the years, but I currently primarily read mysteries (historical mysteries are my favorites) and romances (focusing on contemporaries, categories, and steampunk). When I’m not reading or working, I love to travel, knit, and work on various community projects.