Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lemon Zest + Thyme Pimento Cheese Stuffed Pickled Peppers

I thought that everyone ate pimento cheese sandwiches growing up. I had no idea until recently that it's a Southern thing. The largest producer of pimentos is actually in Tennessee. I'll just add this to the growing list of reasons I love living in the South: heart, soul, and pimiento cheese.
All of you who live down here know that you can't go into any restaurant, be it humble or fancy-pants, without seeing some version of pimento cheese on the menu. The crazy thing is you could order the pimento cheese from every establishment and get something a little different every time. Each kitchen has their own blend of cheeses and spices that makes it their signature pimento cheese. The truth is, though, it's one of those things you almost can't screw up because the ingredients are just too good.
My version is spiced with plenty of fresh thyme, lemon zest, and shallots. I tend to use a combination of sharp cheddar cheese and soft goat cheese to give my pimento cheese a tangy, up-front flavor. Here I've stuffed the mixture into tiny marinated sweet peppers that I found on the olive bar at Whole Foods. This mixture also makes a wonderful sandwich, but these tiny stuffed peppers are the perfect thing to have with a glass of wine in the early evening hours just as the Southern sun dips below the horizon.
Lemon Zest + Thyme Pimento Cheese:
1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
4 ounces soft goat cheese
4-6 sprigs fresh thyme (stems removed)
zest from one lemon
1/4 cup mayo (I use vegan mayo or olive oil mayo)
1 medium red bell pepper (about 1 cup, finely diced)
1.4 teaspoon champagne vinegar
1/8 cup minced shallot*
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste

2 dozen pickled peppers
1/2 teaspoon paprika (to garnish)
1 bunch baby dill (to garnish)
Zest the lemon using a microplane and pull leaves from the sprigs of thyme by running your pinched fingers down the stem.  Mix the cheddar, goat cheese, thyme, zest, mayo, bell pepper, vinegar, shallot, black pepper, and salt until incorporated. It's as simple as that. Refrigerate and allow the flavors to meld for at least an hour for best results. To make stuffed peppers, roll about a teaspoon of the mixture into a ball and pop it into the cavity of the pepper. You may use a measuring spoon or a melon baller to help for the ball. Garnish with sweet paprika and a tiny sprig of fresh baby dill.
*Mince the shallot then place it into a mesh strainer. You will only need about a tablespoon. Run the minced shallot under cold water for a few seconds. This will take away any raw onion flavor and keep the shallot from overpowering the dish.

Testers....will you also make a sandwich with this pimento cheese recipe?


  1. hello chubby, I'd like to do this one with the pimento cheese. Do I just get the peppers at whole foods? I don't see it listed as ingredient but read above you got them there..thanks

  2. I would LOVE to test out this recipe for stuffed peppers AND make up a sandwich as well! Assuming you trust a North Westerner!

  3. Yes, They have them at Whole Foods and at Fresh Market.

  4. Perfect! You two are testing the Pimento Cheese. I can't wait to hear back! Suzie...I already added the peppers and dill to the list. You've helped already!

  5. hey chubby, how much pimento? Don't see it listed ..thx susie

  6. is it the fresh red bell pepper instead of the usual jarred ones? Wonder what roasted red pepper would taste like, hmm

  7. It is fresh and it come out to about a cup (added this to the recipe. This is so helpful, seriously!) I've used roasted and for some reason they seem to turn a little bitter in the mix. I like the crunch of the fresh. I usually peel the pepper as well using my serrated peeler, but that seems too picky for most. Do you agree?

  8. CD, go for it if you want to try this one out, too!


  9. ok understand I'm just starting to try to prepare healthy foods and don't know a lot especially when it comes to fresh ingredients ...
    note 1- didn't know it was easier to pull the fresh thyme against the stalk the opposite way its grows naturally. Figured that out.
    note 2- the lemon zest came off in strands that were difficult to chop, I think because the lemon had been refrigerated, maybe one that was room temperature would grate right?
    note 3- is a bunch of baby dill one sprig or a bunch of sprigs? Lol no seriously I luv doing this for you. I'll google it, ok got from
    note 4- I would also be sure to distinguish that the dill is for garnishment as I almost added in the bowl.
    note 5-I used the small end of a melon baller to pick up enough and stuff in the peppers
    and it is easier to handle if the cheese mixture is chilled first.
    my son came in from church and tested one,so down to 23...he said it was Good!
    will be writing about the sandwich next.

  10. A couple of notes I left out... I found it made the peppers stand better on the plate by trimming the bottoms. Also a little on the tops made it easier to stuff them.
    I decided to make a Grilled Pimento Cheese sandwich. It was yummy. The cheese melted perfectly. The bread I used was some made at the grocery bakery, with a small crust. I think next time I would use a more substantial bread with a heavier crust because the pimento cheese is heavier than a slice of cheese and would hold up much better.
    Now for the taste. I think if I was to make again, I'd add a little more shallot, but thats just me I love onion flavor. I had no idea what Goat cheese to buy as I have not had before.. so I followed the lady at Whole foods suggestion and used the type they used to use when they made pimento cheese. All in all, it was Very Good. The melding of flavor from the sweet and slightly spicy peppers against the velvety tangy of the cheese was perfect! Great little appetizer.
    Chubby- I have some pic's I uploaded to my FB page cuz I was so proud.. I couldn't figure out how to tag your page so come over and look at them... Thanks so much I enjoyed this adventure.

  11. WOW! I could use an army of testers like you. Thank you so much for all of the insight. I'm adding your notes to the recipe. A million thanks!

  12. One question Susie...How many pickled peppers do you think the pimento cheese recipe would make?

  13. well, since the peppers were all so diff in size, I found that I had pimento cheese left over. I think it would make 25 to 30. (plus it was kinda hard to stuff them, I tried to roll up like you said but felt it was all over me, so I switch to the baller thing to scoop in and mush down into the the pepper.) used the very small end of my grandmothers antique melon baller...also, I really like the thyme,, its so much better than the dried. I used at least 6 good sprigs.