I Can’t Give Up My Pimento Cheese
Want to know the biggest obstacle I faced when going from vegetarian to vegan? Giving up my pimento cheese! Especially during tomato season, pimento cheese was one of my greatest treats. It was loaded with animal fat, mayonnaise, and pickle that had to be bursting with high fructose corn syrup, but I loved it so. Pimento cheese was a comfort food from my Southern childhood. My mother made it by grating the cheddar cheese by hand. I even ate it for breakfast. Then I grew up and when I didn’t have the time to make it for myself, it was on to Mrs. Grissom’s. That stuff was so indulgent you could just eat it with a spoon like ice cream.
But, once I made the vegan switch, it had to go. Giving up on foods like that is one of the reasons that the vegan switch has helped me to shed 25 pounds.
So, I resigned myself to pimento cheese being a fond memory. Honestly, it remains the only truly big dietary temptation for me. One of the best things that came my way was a recipe from my vegan pal, Edward Tomlin, for a cheese substitute made with cashews and tofu. (Check out Edward’s blog, http://inthekitchenwithedward.blogspot.com/ , he is a fantastic vegan cook and his food photos will inspire you).
I have tried all the commercial vegan cheese substitutes and none of them suit my taste buds as well as this one does. Since there is a switch in my head that flashes a neon “Pimento Cheese” sign every time I see a ripe, beautiful tomato, I became inspired
to see how I could manipulate the tofu cheese into a fantasy minus the unhealthy fats, and without causing the lady cows a whole lot of aggravation and grief.
The taste of this definitely scratches my itch. It makes me happy and makes me remember one of the few things about my childhood that was perfect. Now, I do like my pickles and I have found one that hits the old-fashioned spot. Try Farmer’s Garden by Vlasic, Bread and Butter Chips. No corn syrup, no artificial coloring. They taste like something your aunt might have made. Ladies and gentlemen, I present–(as close as it gets to) PIMENTO CHEESE:
In the food processor with the chopping blade put
1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashew pieces
2 T olive oil
Chop until cashews are in very small pieces. Add
3/4 teas salt
1/4 teas garlic powder
1/2 teas lemon pepper
1/2 teas dried basil
2 T raw turbinado sugar
1T apple cider vinegar
2 T nutritional yeast (a yellow powder. Available at Whole Foods)
1 pkg Mori Nu extra firm tofu
Continue on chop until nicely blended. Then add
4 oz jar of pimentos, and blend.
Let this chill in refrigerator to set up a bit. This is a creamy mixture. It is more like a Mrs. Grissom’s pimento cheese, than like my mother’s hand grated, chunky style. It is great served with crackers (gluten-free for me, blue corn chips for great color combo, or celery sticks for a Southern Thanksgiving appetizer. But, of course, the classic is a pimento cheese and tomato sandwich, and here is a quick, wheat-free bread for you to try:
Note: While I am vegan with dairy products I still eat eggs. But ONLY if I know for sure the chickens haven’t been mistreated or fed harmful things.
In a large mixing bowl combine
1 cup Masa flour
1 cup King Arthur all purpose gluten-free flour
4 T sugar
2 1/2 tea baking powder
1/2 tea salt
Mix well with a whisk. In a separate bowl beat
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups soy milk
3 T very warm olive oil
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix together, but don’t over-beat.
Put into an oiled loaf pan and bake 25 minutes. Done when a tooth pick comes out clean. Should remove easily from pan. I run a metal spatula around the edges. Let cool on a rack before slicing. Knock yourself out!