Pimento cheese is not, as I thought, a block of cheese with chunks of pimento in it. No, it's a lovely, creamy, savory spread that is splendid smeared on bread for a pimento cheese tea sandwich or turned into a dip for crackers and crudités.
It's dead simple to make, too, and can easily be whipped up to serve to unexpected company or on one of those nights when you just want something quick but filling to nibble on.
Making Pimento Cheese
This spread is simply softened cream cheese mixed with an assortment of savory ingredients like grated cheese and spices. It's a one-bowl mixture with everything tossed into the bowl of a food processor at once, then whizzed up until it is smooth, creamy, and a cheery orange from the pimento.
The traditional cheese of choice is a strong cheddar, beautifully aged so its intense flavor is not masked by the cream cheese.
Pimento is the star of the show, its rich redness adding color while its peppery piquancy adds flavor and life. Pimento is a large, heart-shaped cherry pepper that is wonderfully sweet with very little heat. If you can't find it in your grocery store, chopped, fire-roasted red peppers make an admirable substitute and add a smoky deliciousness of their own.
Pimento cheese is usually spiced with garlic and onion powders, but I made mine with fresh garlic and green onions from my garden. If you aren't a big fan of garlic, then stick with the mellower garlic powder. If you like a bit of heat, feel free to add in a generous spoonful of cayenne pepper and some finely chopped chilies such Serrano or jalapeño.
A pimento cheese tea sandwich is usually made on white bread, but I prefer the toothsome heartiness of multi-grain. You could also try thinly sliced light rye or small rounds of sourdough or a baguette.
Pimento Cheese Tea Sandwich Additions
Although the pimento cheese can stand on its own feet as a sandwich filling, it also pairs quite wonderfully with other ingredients for a heartier sandwich.
You could add cold sliced meats such as ham, turkey, or chicken, or stick with the paste theme and spread one side of the bread with deviled ham or another meat paste.
For a vegetarian option, add crunchy sprouts such as alfalfa or pea, and a few rounds of thinly sliced cucumber.
Pimento cheese tea sandwiches go well on a tea tray with other sandwiches, but are also welcome additions to a hot bowl of soup such as Curried Pea Soup, Parmesan Rind Soup, or Celeriac Soup.
They are also a lovely accompaniment to salads like our Spring Salad with Peas and Prosciutto, Balsamic Beet Salad, or Warming Winter Wild Rice and Lentil Salad.
- 1 block cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 green onion, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup pimento, drained
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place all ingredients in bowl of food processor and puree until smooth.
Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.
Pimento Cheese Tea Sandwich
- Slices of whole wheat bread, crusts removed
- Salted butter
- Pimento cheese
- Deviled ham (or other meat paste)
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Thinly sliced cucumber
Lay out bread slices side by side and butter one side of each.
Spread half of the slices with pimento cheese.
Spread 1/4 of the slices with deviled ham/meat paste.
Top remaining slices with cucumber slices and alfalfa sprouts.
Top the ham bread slices with a pimento cheese bread slice and cut into 4 small squares.
Top the vegetable bread slices with a pimento cheese bread slice and cut into 4 small squares.
Serve immediately or cover with saran wrap and chill until ready to serve.