As summer begins to close its doors, I find myself sneaking in last minute summery recipes before my kitchen is full of soups and butternut squash and kale.
Of course, there's pesto and watermelon salad, but there's nothing like my Mamaw's pimento cheese. It's always a crowd pleaser, perfect for guests, and damn, who just doesn't love cheese?!
It was always such a delight as a kid to pull up to my Mamaw and Papaw's house in Florence, AL and find a Tupperware container of pimento cheese and some Ritz crackers on the counter. My cousins and I would savor EVERY bite. And while I like it on the spicier side now, it's still the perfect summertime treat.
For those that don't know about pimento cheese, they say the spread originated in New York, but it now is a staple in Southern cuisine. Have it for a snack on crackers, as a sandwich, or as a flavorful spread on a burger. Hell, you can even warm it as a dip and serve it with tortilla chips like our local restaurant, Tupelo Honey.
And it's the easiest to make. My recipe is below, adapted from my Mamaw. I'm kinda embarrassed to call it a recipe; it's more like a build your own adventure.
- Block of sharp cheese, grated
- Block of Monterey cheese, grated
- Duke's Mayo (gotta be Duke's!)
- Medium jar of pimento peppers
- Red pepper flakes (optional)
Throw everything in a blender, including the juice of the pimentos, and pulse. Keep adding mayo until you get your desired consistency. Same with the pulsing. Some like big cheese chucks, others like it fine. Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to your liking. Very specific directions, eh?
Grab some crackers or white bread and go to town.
*Please note that the pimento cheese in these photos was actually concocted by my chef pal Nathan Brand, who will soon be opening his first restaurant here in Johnson City, TN. He tops his pimento cheese with pickled red onions, which is brilliant. And totally delicious.
Drool-worthy photos by Anna Hedges