I had never heard of pimento cheese until my parents moved to Charleston. It was an unnaturally good cheese dip that normally concluded with an awful stomach ache and huge dose of regret. Aside from not being the most healthy dip in the world, dairy and I don’t really see eye-to-eye. Or I guess rather my stomach and dairy aren’t exactly BFFs. My brain is always telling me to eat the cheese while my belly begs me to stop. It’s a brutal dance, but I manage to steer clear most of the time, unless I see a huge helping of PIMENTO CHEESE!!
If you aren’t from the south or haven’t paid us a visit, you’ve probably never heard of this style of cheese. It’s basically a big blend of cream cheese, mayo, cheddar and pimento peppers all whipped into on big pot of ooey-gooey goodness. How would one eat this cheese?
*slathered on crackers
*slathered on celery (allllllllmost healthy)
*slathered on sourdough bread and then grilled
*piled on top of burgers
*all over your body
So you can imagine my excitement when local Charleston chef Sean Brock (this dude is AMAZING) released his version of pimento cheese from his upcoming cookbook, Heritage. I was excited and torn all at the same time. I wanted to make the cheese but knew it was one big gut bomb waiting to happen. So I put on my thinking cap. How can I make this dairy-free? I decided that was practically impossible BUT I had some options. Mayo could be replaced with Veganiase (which I’m addicted to. WAY better than regular mayo) and cream cheese could be replaced with a vegan version called Tofutti (really tasty stuff, I gotta say. It’s still on my to-do list to figure out how to make homemade dairy-free cream cheese. For now, this will do). The actual cheddar factor is tricky, because I’ve never found a vegan cheese I’ve liked (except for a melted cashew cheese version that will be in my upcoming book). I did a little grocery aisle happy dance when I saw Whole Foods was carrying raw 100% grassfed cheddar and raw goat’s milk cheddar. The beauty of raw milk cheese—it still contains the enzymes needed to digest the cheese. These enzymes are normally cooked off in the pasteurization process, which is what makes me so ill. Cow’s milk is the hardest to digest (sheep and goat is always much gentler), so I decided to do a mix of the goat and cow’s cheddar to switch things up. I upped the amount of spices as I always like a good kick, and couldn’t find fresh pimentos like Brock recommends, so had to settle for the canned stuff.
So here she blows: my ode to the southern classic! It’s still cheesy goodness, but went down much easier than the normal stuff. Enjoy!
Raw Pimento Cheese
1/2 lbs. raw 100% grassfed cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 lbs. raw goat’s milk cheddar cheese, grated
1 6 oz. jar pimento peppers, drained and finely chopped
4 oz. Tofutti cream cheese, at room temp
1/2 cup Veganiase
2 t hot sauce (I love Crystals)
2 t sea salt
1/4 t raw sugar
1/2 cayenne pepper
1/2 t freshly cracked black pepper
2 t smoked paprika
1/4 cup bread-and-butter pickles, finely chopped, plus 1/2 cup of the brine
Combine your cream cheese and mayo into one large glass bowl and mix until fully incorporated. Add hot sauce, sea salt, sugar, cayenne pepper, black pepper, paprika and mix well. Drain your peppers and finely dice. Add to the bowl. Drizzle pickle brine into your bowl with finely diced bread-and-butter pickles. Fold these bad boys in and you’re ready to go! If you’re starving and have no self control (like me), you’ll wanna start munching immediately. Otherwise, refrigerate for an hour or so before serving.
Happy eatin’, y’all!