Growing up, I refused to eat the day-glow orange-hued spread that lingered in our fridge. I’d watch as my Dad loaded it onto celery sticks (the horror! Didn’t he know we had peanut butter?) or onto two slices of white bread with a tomato topper. Gag.
Now, you might be thinking I was around five or six at this time, but I distinctly remember the celery stick incident happening when my college boyfriend was home to visit. Dad asked him if he’d like a taste of the pimiento cheese and, in spite of being from Atlanta, Brian admitted he’d never had it before.
Disclaimer: It’s possible that I’d never had it before either, but only because I insisted “orange” was not a color found in nature, at least in natural food, anyway. I really was a pleasant child, wasn’t I?
As he took the orange-tinted celery stick, all I could think was that, after Brian ate the packaged cheese spread, we’d never kiss again.
Oh how the fates laughed.
I call this “red ants on quicksand”, or Light Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Celery.
The spread impressed him so much that we had it at our rehearsal dinner, piled in a little lump atop a steak. This kind, I noticed, was less orange. More… red? I took a bite and loved it, but later wondered if I’d been toasting myself a little too frequently that evening.
Mary Anne, I think we need to meet (Mary Anne’s Pimiento Cheese).
On our first anniversary, we took a trip to Charleston, where Brian’s parents (orchestrators of aforementioned rehearsal dinner) offered us the gift of dinner at a local classic, Magnolias, so long as we sampled the dish that inspired our rehearsal dinner menu: a grilled 8-ounce filet topped with housemade pimiento cheese.
Pimiento-Cheese Stuffed Burgers. Hello, love.
To my surprise, I loved it. Really loved it. Ran out and bought the cookbook loved it.
Since then, I’ve developed my own pimiento cheese flavor. Did you know “pimientos” are basically red peppers? I love red peppers. I’d rather roast my peppers on the grill than broil them, but mostly because it takes hours for my kitchen to cool back down. Jarred works, but only if we’re in a pinch. I added chopped olives, then forgot them once and never made that mistake again.
Pimiento cheese recipes are as different as the day is long. Do you use mayo or another spread? Jarred or fresh-roasted red peppers? Shredded cheddar, cream cheese, or a mixture of both? Southern Living even has a recipe, Our Favorite Pimiento Cheese, that calls for pecans, and another with apple cider vinegar! A favorite addition in our house is jalapenos. Viva la spice!
Jalapeno-Pimiento Cheese, bringing the heat.
The good news? I now love pimiento cheese. The bad news? We put it on everything. Toast, sandwiches, burgers, steaks, baked potatoes, and crackers all make perfect edible transports, but I’ve found a spoon works just as well.
What’s your secret to delicious pimiento cheese?