This past weekend, I had the honor of witnessing my sister Claire receive an MBA from Yale School of Management, marking her secondpost-graduate degree. (Can you tell I’m proud?) It was a whirlwind of a weekend in New Haven, but one of my favorite experiences of the trip was a quiet, homemade afternoon snack on Claire’s balcony: pimento cheese and mint juleps.
Claire’s partner Mary Katherine is from the South, and monogrammed mint julep cups are a traditional graduation gift in her family. In need of a Southern snack to accompany our libations, they came up with the brilliant idea of making pimento cheese, which MK blushed to admit she usually buys in a jar. As it turns out, there’s no reason to eat the canned kind, since it’s pretty darn easy to assemble and pretty darn hard to mess up.
While some of these ingredients I tend to shy away from (mayonnaise, canned peppers), they are essential to the traditional recipe. Once combined, the whole is much, much greater than the sum of its parts. Spread on a thin slice of baguette, with an ice-cold beverage, on a sunny day? A little slice of Southern heaven.
Easy Pimento Cheese Recipe
- 10 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 7 oz jar of pimento (pimiento) peppers, finely diced
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
- salt and black pepper to taste
Combine mayo with cayenne and salt and pepper to taste. Stir together with diced peppers and grated cheese until evenly combined. Can be made ahead of time and kept in an airtight container (refrigerated), but keep in mind that it will become spicier the longer it sits.
- A low-fat pimento cheese could be made with reduced-fat mayonnaise and 2% sharp cheddar.
- Also, if you prefer a more homogenous texture, simply grate your cheese more finely, or briefly run it through a food processor with the seasoned mayonnaise before mixing in the pimentos.
- No pimentos? We made an equally-delicious version with roasted red peppers, which you can buy in a jar or make at home!