For years, I turned up my nose at pimiento cheese, never even daring a taste. I softened my stance after reading through a recipe for it not too long ago, but I still didn’t rush right out and seek an opportunity to taste it. In fact, I didn’t even attempt to make it, though I was intrigued with features on the South’s iconic spread, like the one in Southern Living magazine’s February issue. Some of the recipes did seem fairly easy, and the combination of ingredients didn’t sound as offensive as I’d imagined.
Only a week or so ago—when my aunt brought pimiento cheese sandwiches to my niece’s birthday party—was I able to finally cross it off the list of things I’d never tried—and I liked it, as in, I ate several of the small triangle-shaped sandwiches. Not only am I thinking about how I can’t wait to eat another pimiento cheese sandwich; I’m also thinking I’d like to try it in other forms. And that’s where Southern Living’s February issue comes in—just in the nick of time.
For starters, the magazine offered several unusual variations on the basic spread, with options ranging from creamy and herby to sweet and spicy, zesty and tipsy (thanks to a little bourbon). Just a page from all those varieties was what’s deemed the “Mother of All Pimiento Cheese Sandwiches,” which sounded pretty tasty until I got to one surprising ingredient: strawberry preserves. I know, I know. I shouldn’t knock it until I’ve tried it. Judging by how long it took me to taste the basic stuff, I guess I can pencil it in for a few decades from now …
Besides the sandwich, other options in Southern Living were deviled eggs (that’s a post for another day), pimiento cheese rolls (absolutely) and pimiento cheese cookies, again with those strawberry preserves (I’ve got it on my calendar). And based on reader responses, that’s just the beginning of a multitude of ways to enjoy pimiento cheese. Use it as a quesadilla filling, spice up mac and cheese with it, serve it with tart Granny Smith apples, spread it on gingersnaps or graham crackers—along with more suggestions featuring strawberry jam.
Obviously I’m missing out on something here with the jam, but the buzz is enough to make me curious. I can’t promise I’ll try it tomorrow, but I will say it won’t take me decades to step out of my culinary comfort zone on this one.