Ah, Pimento Cheese spread. “The pate of the South” graces the Southern table at any occasion in which the ladies are dressed in Lilly Pulitzer and the men are clad in Seersucker. Pimento cheese even makes its way onto menus at sophisticated restaurants like Magnolia’s in Charleston, SC and Rivertown Bistro in Conway, SC and Motor Supply Co. in Columbia, SC.
The History of Pimento Cheese
A pimento cheese spread is really just a mixture of pimentos, cheddar cheese, and mayonnaise. Recipes get much more elaborate from the basic three-ingredient combination, incorporating spices and jalepenos and lemon zest. Each has their own special concoction. The star ingredient are pimentos of course, which are small sweet red peppers also known as cherry peppers.
Making it from scratch is unnecessary: Palmetto Cheese and Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit Pimento Cheese (available at Costco) are two excellent store-bought pimento cheese options available in South Carolina.
The Charlotte Observer article, “The Spread of Pimento Cheese,” notes that the recipe dates back to 1870. The first published recipe is attributed to a 1910 edition of “The Queen Appalachia Cookbook.” Eugenia Duke, founder of Duke’s Mayonnaise, which many Southerners will declare the only mayo acceptable to use in the kitchen, recounted it’s early universal appeal. Pimento cheese was sold at the same time to workers in textile mills and in fancy hotels. Everyone loved it then, everyone loves it now.
In addition, pimento cheese made the list of “Hot Food Trends of 2011” in both Bon Appetit Magazine and Nation’s Restaurant News. This sparked a trend of the southern staple getting fancy across the country. You’ll find pimento cheese making it’s way into trendy restaurants and famous chefs like Bobby Flay promoting new recipes.
Pimento Cheese Spread for a Party
Here are some ideas for a pimento cheese board (easier than a fancy charcuterie board!)
- A pretty wooden cutting board makes a pretty appetizer
- Add pimento cheese in a jar
- Hot honey
- Chopped spicy peppers
- Pickled Red Onions
- Cucumber, celery
- Toasted baguette
10 Recipes with Pimento Cheese to Try
Pimento cheese is trending: A quick search on Pinterest will reveal thousands of creative recipe ideas from magazines, bloggers, and chefs. We’ve rounded up ten recipes worth trying. Store bought or homemade, pimento cheese can be added to so many dishes for a little southern kick. Try it on grits, tomato pie, and even on top of burgers. Here are some recipes with pimento cheese to liven up your culinary repertoire:
1. Pimento Cheese Tomato Pie
Recipe | Easy Pimento Cheese Tomato Pie
This is an easy one. Use store-bought pimento cheese and a pie crust, and all you have to do is toss in tomatoes, basil, vidalia onions and Duke’s mayo. Bake it at 350 for about 30 minutes and you have a tasty cheesy brunch, lunch or dinner.
4. Pimento Cheese Grits (and of course, adding shrimp would be an excellent idea!)
5. Pretty & Tasty Pimento Cheese Spread
Rivertown Bistro in Conway serves their delectable Pimento Cheese appetizer with an Asian teriyaki glaze drizzled over their home-made pimento cheese with peas, shitake mushrooms, and warm pita bread. You can easily create the same for your next party and use a balsamic or teriyaki sauce to create the same flavor and presentation.
Want more Southern flavor?
A Southern Cookbook with Recipes You Can Actually Make
The Lee Brothers Simple Fresh Southern Cookbook also has a pimento cheese potato gratin recipe that’s worth trying. The entire cookbook is a fresh take on Southern recipes, with favorites including green goddess potato salad and squid (or subbing shrimp) with watermelon and basil.