By Susan M. Selasky Detroit Free Press
A recipe for Eggplant Relish in a 1975 issue of Gourmet magazine called for pimiento.
A member of the pepper (capsicum annuum) family, pimiento (also commonly called pimento) is a heart-shaped red sweet pepper.
Capsicum annuum covers a wide variety of peppers including many varieties of pimiento, bell peppers and chili peppers.
In “Tapas” ($30), Penelope Casas writes that pimiento “is nothing more than the Spanish word for peppers, and in this country we used the word to mean red peppers that are cooked, peeled and packaged in jars or cans.”
The word “pimento” also is the name of the tree that allspice comes from, according to “The Food Lover’s Companion” by Sharon Tyler Herbst ($12.95).
Pimiento peppers are similar to red bell peppers, though the flesh of a pimiento is said to be much sweeter.
There also is an issue of the size of pimiento peppers. Most culinary resources define pimientos as peppers measuring about 3 to 4 inches long and 2 inches wide at the widest part. But some refer to them as the cherry peppers, which are smaller and plumper.
So not all pimiento peppers are classified as the same variety.
You are probably most familiar with pieces of pimiento stuffed into green olives. Those pieces have been roasted and the skin removed. It’s a process similar to roasting red bell peppers.
Small (4-ounce) jars of diced pimiento are commonly sold at most grocery stores.
In this recipe, it sounds as though they are referring to the larger jarred pimiento peppers. You could substitute jarred roasted red peppers.
Once pimientos are dried, smoked and ground, they become pimenton, or Spanish paprika, according to “The New S panish Table” by Anya von Bremzen ($22.95).
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup minced onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
2-3 cups peeled and diced eggplant
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons ketchup
1-2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons drained, prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is browned. Add the eggplant, pimientos along with some of their juice, lemon juice, ketchup, salt, horseradish, sugar, tarragon and pepper and paprika.
Cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring, for about 15 minutes or until eggplant is tender. Serve it hot on crostini or with grilled chicken or fish.
Makes 11/2 cups. Per 1 tablespoon: 24 calories (61 percent from fat), 2 grams fat (0 grams sat. fat), 2 grams carbohydrates, 0 grams protein, 79 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 gram fiber.
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, 1975 issue.
Tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.