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National Pimiento Month Recipes
(Believe it or Not)

Ask most folks in the Deep South about pimiento cheese and they'll tell you about grandma's secret family recipe. A cool mixture of shredded cheddar cheese, mayo and diced pimientos is as common as peanut butter in the Deep South for sandwiches, snacks and veggies. That's why pimiento cheese is the featured recipe of May's National Pimiento Month.

Although most of the nation's pimientos are grown in California, the pepper is revered in the south. A traditional Southern favorite tosses them in with mayonnaise, a dash of hot sauce, some milk and shredded cheddar cheese to make a versatile pimiento cheese.

More than 42% of pimiento cheese is consumed in the Southeast according to IRI statistics. More than 25% is eaten in the Carolinas. Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte, North Carolinians alone consume nearly 17% of pimiento cheese in the nation. Birmingham, Ala., Atlanta, Ga., Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville, Tenn., are also known for pimiento cheese recipes that adorn everything from crackers to cheeseburgers.

Elvis demanded pimiento cheese as his favorite topping on hamburgers. The venerable pimiento cheese sandwich is a staple of the April golf classic at Augusta. It's made with love by millions of southern families during the hot months of summer as the coolest sandwich and snack spread.

Because of its rich flavor, ease of preparation (three basic ingredients takes about two minutes to prepare) and versatility as a sandwich, cracker or veggie topping, pimiento cheese is a natural for today's busy families.

Begun in 2002 by California's Governor to honor pimiento growers in his state, National Pimiento Month celebrates the nutritious little cousin of the bell pepper best known for the red dot in the center of most stuffed olives.

Pimientos aren't just for olives or pimiento cheese. They are an essential for adding color to potato salad, green bean casseroles, tacos, salads and a lot more. Pick up some pimientos on your next trip to the supermarket and help celebrate National Pimiento Month with one, or all of these quick and easy recipes:

Two-Minute Pimiento Cheese Spread

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4-oz. jar diced pimientos
  • 1/4 c. mayonnaise
  • a dash of Worcestershire
  • salt to taste
  • milk as needed

Instructions:

  • Drain pimientos and discard liquid.
  • Combine all ingredients except milk and mix well.
  • Slowly add milk to achieve desired consistency.
  • Cover and refrigerate for a great sandwich spread.
  • Create a creamy chip and vegetable dip by adding more mayonnaise.

Yield: 2-1/2 cups.



Creamy Potato Salad

Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs. potatoes
  • 2 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. mustard
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 1-1/4 c. celery, chopped
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 4-oz. jar diced pimientos, drained
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Peel potatoes,
  • dice into 3/4-inch cubes and boil until tender enough to pierce with a fork.
  • Drain and allow to cool.
  • In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, mustard and milk and set aside.
  • Fry bacon, drain on paper towels and crumble.
  • In a large bowl, mix cooled potatoes, celery, onion, bacon, pimientos and mayonnaise mixture.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 12 servings.



Green Been Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 16-oz. can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1 t. soy sauce
  • 1/8 t. pepper
  • 1 t. onion powder
  • 3 c. cut fresh green beans
  • 1/2 c. fresh mushrooms
  • 4-oz. jar diced pimientos, drained
  • 2 T. french fried onions

Instructions:

  • Mix soup, milk, soy sauce, pepper, onion powder, green beans, mushrooms and pimientos in 1-1/2-quart casserole dish.
  • Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until hot.
  • Stir and then sprinkle with french fried onions.
  • Bake another 5 minutes.
  • Serve warm.
  • This dish makes any day a holiday!

Yield: 6 servings.



Chicken with Basil Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. dry bread crumbs
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. chicken broth
  • 1 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 4-oz. jar diced pimientos, drained
  • 1/2 c. parmesan, grated
  • 1/4 c. fresh basil, minced
  • 1/8 t. pepper
  • 1 t. cornstarch

Instructions:

  • Place milk and bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls
  • Dip chicken in milk, then coat with bread crumbs.
  • In skillet over medium heat, brown chicken on both sides in butter and olive oil.
  • Set aside and cover to keep warm.
  • Add broth to the same skillet you used for browning the chicken.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat and scrape the bottom to loosen bread crumbs from pan.
  • Add whipping cream and pimientos and bring to a boil stirring constantly for 1 minute.
  • Reduce heat.
  • Stir in parmesan, basil and pepper and cook until heated through.
  • Mix cornstarch with extra chicken broth and stir into skillet if needed to thicken sauce.
  • Pour over chicken.

Yield: 4 servings.




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