Don't worry. I'll get to this pimento cheese crostini recipe momentarily. First, a little about this visit to Tennessee...
Tennessee has always been a summer state in my mind. I rarely spent time there outside of summer vacation when I was growing up with the exception of a couple Christmases that I barely remember. This last trip, in the middle of spring, was something very different. We flew into Nashville in the midst of some epically bad weather. Storms and tornadoes peppered the entire region and I wasn’t entirely sure I’d made the right decision flying into the thick of it. Someone was watching over us because we made it safely and, despite a few toddler-related road blocks, the drive from Nashville to Cookeville went smoothly.
We stayed with family in Cookeville for the first couple of days, which was bittersweet this time around because it was my first visit since my grandma passed away. I don’t think visits here will ever feel the same now that she’s gone. Still, I feel her here. Riley was playing on the kitchen floor of my grandparents old house the other day. Rain was clamoring outside and my mom was preparing some leftover cornbread for us to snack on. He sat there in the middle of the floor and I was sure my grandma was watching every move he made with a dainty, sweet smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye. I could picture her joy so clearly in my mind as I paged through her 1970’s copy of the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook, complete with her old Sunday school list and a hand-written recipe for window cleaner.
We left Cookeville on Wednesday and drove through the still rainy Smoky Mountains in search of the cabin we reserved. To be honest, we were all rather exhausted and ready to be done traveling for a while. Travel is getting more difficult as Riley gets older. After some curvy roads with sharp, hairpin turns, we finally arrived. My first instict was to turn around and demand a new cabin because it seemed precariously perched on unsteady beams.
When a toddler is present, this is how your mind works.
Still, we decided to go ahead and give it a try. Once we got past the initial feelings of uncertainty, we embraced the taxidermy-filled walls and settled in. The wrap around porch drew us all in despite it's slightly tattered swings and the occasional large bumblebee buzzing in to keep on us our toes.
The hot tub overlooking the Smokies (see image above) didn't hurt.
We drove through Maryville, Tennessee on our way to the cabin and stopped at a little store called The Market. We ate sandwiches and sipped ice cold water then browsed the shelves for a few minutes in search of something delicious to purchase and bring up the mountain with us. I spotted some pimento cheese, which I despised as a child after watching my grandfather spread a pasty substance barely resembling cheese on a slice of Wonderbread. At the Market, pimento cheese looked delicious. Thick shreds of cheddar cheese mixed with roasted red peppers, spices, and a barely-there touch of mayonnaise didn't seem as scary.
I bought a little tub along with some fresh French baguettes and a Granny Smith apple. I simply sliced the bread, drizzled it with oil and sprinkled it with a bit of salt and pepper, then toasted them to golden, crusty perfection. Spread with a healthy amount of pimento cheese and a few thin slices of Granny Smith apple, the crostini was better than I anticipated.
Then I drizzled it with local Locust honey and it became even more amazing. But the honey is optional.
Tennessee Pimento Cheese Crostini
- 1 small French baguette, cut into eight 1/4 inch slices
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and black pepper
- 1 cup pimento cheese
- 1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the bread slices on a large, rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
- Bake 6-8 minutes or until lightly golden.
- Spread each toast with some of the pimento cheese and top with two or three of the apple slices.