Tuesday, September 6, 2011
With Labor Day behind us, it is time to get started on a new gardening season. Our garden played out early this year because we just didn't get enough rain. After a weekend of rain and with cooler temperatures, it should be time to get a fresh start.
The last thing we have in our garden -- peppers. These beautiful pimentos were a first for us this year and I do plan to plant more next year. I was hoping to can them but I didn't have quite enough to bring out the pressure canner, so I decided to freeze them instead.
The best way -- roast them, peel off the skin and then freeze them. The skins can be a bit tough and a little bitter when they are cooked or frozen, so it is best to freeze them without the peelings.
I think the pimentos are meatier than regular red bell peppers. We had to pick a few of them while green but they "colored up" well after leaving them out for more than a few days. I thought the pimentos kept well and I really liked the clusters of peppers on the vines.
It is almost impossible for my untrained eye to tell the difference between a bell pepper plant and a pimento plant, but the pimento pepper is very different from the bell pepper. The pimento has a rounded bottom and become a bright fire engine red when ripe. Pimentos have a distinctively different flavor that makes them perfect in pimento cheese.
My pimentos will be the star ingredient for my favorite pimento cheese recipe. It's a tangy, low fat version that my family really loves. A bit different, but healthy and tasty. This is great on whole wheat bread or on crackers. We often serve this as a dip. It has a fresh taste.
Low-Fat, Herbed Pimento Cheese
2/3 cup nonfat sour cream
1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt, softened
1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
4 ounces nonfat cream cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley (or other herbs of your choice)
1/3 cup chopped red pimento peppers (or one 4 ounce jar of pimentos)
8 ounces low fat sharp cheddar cheese, grated Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl mix the sour cream, yogurt, mayonnaise and cream cheese together until smooth and creamy. Add the onions, herbs and pimentos. Add the grated cheddar until well mixed. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving so the flavor will be enhanced.