Pimento Cheese's Kentucky Cousin
From Garden & Gun
In a state best known to the rest of the country for its bourbon and fried chicken, Louisville’s Benedictine spread is an under-the-radar local favorite.
Made from cream cheese, cucumber, and onion—and colored, traditionally, with a dash or two of green food coloring—Benedictine was the invention of Jennie C. Benedict, a popular caterer and restaurateur in Louisville around the turn of the twentieth century. She developed it as a filling for one-ingredient tea sandwiches, but it has since evolved into an all-purpose dip that tops chips and crackers and comes spread on sandwiches with extras like mayonnaise, bacon, lettuce, and alfalfa sprouts.
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Though you will see plenty of Benedictine at Derby-season get-togethers, when the flavors of Louisville get their moment in the national spotlight, its pastel-green color and creamy, vegetal flavor make it perfectly suited to an Easter-weekend lunch.
Emma Lou’s Café, a combination sandwich shop and vintage boutique in Louisville’s Highlands neighborhood, serves a popular Benedictine sandwich. To recreate it, follow this simple recipe from proprietor Emily Williams and layer the spread with generous amounts of lettuce and bacon.
Emma Lou’s Café Benedictine Spread
makes 3 ½ cups
1 ½ cucumbers
½ small white onion
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. white pepper
24 oz. (3 cups) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
Peel and slice the cucumbers lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard. Cut into large pieces.
In a food processor, puree the cucumber and onion together. Squeeze out excess liquid with a cheesecloth or by pressing the mixture through a fine sieve with a spatula.
Combine cucumber and onion with other ingredients, either by hand or using the paddle attachment on an electric mixer. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.