Almost everyone has a favorite sandwich filling or spread. For some it’s chicken salad, ham and cheese, or egg salad. For others, it may be something as simple as a pimiento and cheese spread … homemade, of course.
Whenever my friend and assistant, Mauna, and I were busy preparing for a cooking class or on one of our short trips to the Smokies, we always wanted to have some pimiento and cheese sandwiches to snack on.
Mauna always said that she loved my pimiento and cheese sandwiches. It was one of her favorites, along with her “mater tater” sandwich, which combines slices of fresh tomatoes with lots of good mayonnaise and a layer of potato chips on white bread. If you haven’t tried this one, you should.
For years, all I have put in my pimiento and cheese spread is some American cheese, pimiento and plenty of mayonnaise. The first time I tasted this simple version was more than 50 years ago, when I was working at the local cotton mill and we could buy homemade sandwiches at work. This one quickly became a favorite.
My friend, Joan Ross, makes her pimiento cheese spread with three different kinds of cheese — sharp Cheddar, cream cheese and Monterey Jack. Joan also adds a little grated onion. This special pimiento and cheese sandwich is great grilled, she says. I hadn’t thought of that, but I do wonder how it would be with pepper jack cheese instead of plain Monterey Jack.
When I think of pimientos, I have in mind the kind you buy in the little jars at the supermarket, but did you know that this sweet red pepper is also used in the popular seasoning known as paprika?
If you want another use for pimientos, you might like my mother’s pimiento salad. I always thought it was so unusual because it is made with crushed saltines and boiled eggs. Some people call it “cracker salad.” I had almost forgotten about this salad until a friend asked me if I knew how to make it. She and her sister remembered their mother making it and couldn’t find a recipe.
Perhaps a fresh tomato sandwich along with a serving of the pimiento salad would make a good lunch combo for family or guests.
JOAN’S PIMIENTO CHEESE SPREAD
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
½ cup mayonnaise
2 to 3 tablespoons pimientos, mashed
1 teaspoon grated onion
Salt and pepper, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
Mix cheeses, mayonnaise, pimientos and onion very well. Add salt, black pepper and garlic powder to taste.
SIMPLE PIMIENTO CHEESE SPREAD
8 ounces American cheese, grated
2 tablespoons chopped pimiento
Combine the cheese and pimiento and mix well. Add mayonnaise gradually until you get the spread the consistency you like. Mix well. This will make enough spread for 8 to 10 regular-size sandwiches.
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 stack saltines (about 35 crackers), coarsely crushed
½ cup chopped pimiento
¼ cup sweet pickle relish (optional)
½ cup mayonnaise
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate. This is pretty served on lettuce.
Email Prudence Hilburn at email@example.com