Pimento cheese is more than the sum of its parts

This Classic Pimento Cheese is basically only three simple ingredients, sharp cheddar cheese, jarred pimentos and mayonnaise - but when you combine them, you get a creamy, sharp, piquant spread that’s so versatile you can use it for just about any meal part. (AP photo)

By ELIZABETH KARMEL

Associated Press

I almost always have pimento cheese in my refrigerator. It is one of my comfort foods and I never get tired of it. Like most Southerners, I grew up with it and there are as many variations as there are Southerners. The version that I make most is super simple and the recipe that my mother and my Grandmother always made.

It is basically only three ingredients, sharp cheddar cheese, jarred pimentos and mayonnaise. This is a case where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts for sure. The three parts don’t sound like much, but when you combine them, you get a creamy, sharp, piquant spread that is so versatile that you can use it for just about any meal part.

I add it to eggs to make a cheesy scramble in the morning, use as a spread on bread for a sandwich that is served cold; toasted open-face or griddled into the Southern grilled cheese. Added to biscuit dough, you get the best cheese biscuits that I have ever eaten. Served with saltines and smoked sausage, it is an appetizer or a barbecue entree. And, my own favorite, spread on pretzel rods as a cocktail snack. These are a few of the ways that I use pimento cheese, but there are so many more!

Some people — even those living in the South — make pimento cheese with roasted red peppers, but they aren’t the same as pimentos and thus they don’t taste the same. Pimento is the American spelling of the Spanish “pimiento,” a heart-shaped sweet red pepper that most everyone knows from the pimento-stuffed Spanish olives.