One of my favorite things about calling this beautiful place home is watching the seasons change in the salt marsh. From the vibrant green that the summer brings, to the flowering and browning in autumn, the golden hue of the dormant grass in the winter, and finally the vibrant green peeking through the base again in the spring. It’s a cycle that’s happened for eons, and I’m thankful I get to see those subtle changes everyday.
Another change in the fall that’s easier to take note of is the change of pickleweed (salicornia, sea beans, picklewort) from its plump bright green state – when it’s still so salty it’s a little bit sweet, to a vibrant reddish-fushia in the fall before it begins it’s slumber for the colder months – and it gets bitter.
We’ve brewed beer with it in it’s bitter state with our friends over at Black Narrows. In that case, the bitterness was welcomed. For other things you may want to use them for – you want them when they are green. Wonderful in salads, stir-fries, sauces – I made a mignonette sauce for oysters a couple years ago that was a big hit.
My favorite and easiest way to use them is in this super simple pimento cheese. The little salty, crunchy bites lend the perfect little something special to the creamy cheese spread.
If you’re lucky like me, and live close to a clean waterway system with salt marsh – look around. If you don’t – check out your local farmers markets. I’ve also seen them at fancy-pants grocers like Whole Foods or Wegmanns.
Pickleweed Pimento Cheese
8 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup salicornia (pickle weed, sea beans), washed and chopped
4 oz. jar diced pimientos
3 Tbsp Greek yogurt
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 tsp hot sauce
Drain pimentos well.
Combine yogurt and mayonnaise and mix well. Add cheese, pimentos, pickle weed, and hot sauce. Season to taste with salt, but remember the salicornia is salty. Season accordingly!
If you like a finer pimento spread, add the cheese to the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix for about 30 seconds. Store in refrigerator up to a week. Makes about one and a half cups of cheese spread.