Jennie Benedict invented one of the world’s greatest sandwich spreads. Benedictine was a hit in the 1900s at her restaurant, Benedicts. Today, her spread is an iconic Kentucky brunch staple. It’s a regular in best sandwiches lists and is a versatile southern staple.
The main ingredients are cucumbers, cream cheese, and dried dill. I’ve heard some restaurants add green food coloring. I assume they are immediately ostracized by friends and family for their transgression. Benedictine can be vivid green if you leave some of the peel in the mix. But it’s a personal flavor profile choice and not at all necessary. You’re using green ingredients. Your mix will have a green hue. No need to be dramatic.
Southern Sandwich Spreads Need More Attention
I am a proud southern cook. I grew up eating all kinds of dips that you don’t see outside the Bible belt. Pimento cheese has made a name for itself north of the Mason Dixon line. But have you had Million Dollar Dip? It’s also called Neiman Marcus dip, from the Dallas department store where it was invented. Slather some remoulade on your shrimp po’boy. Baked Vidalia onion dip is a thing of exquisite beauty. Southern cuisine is all about flavor and rarely about health. They are cheese and mayonnaise forward. And if you can’t find mayonnaise, butter works just fine. You can ask Paula Deen. And I don’t get me started on Texas Caviar. It’s a delicious monstrosity.
The Benedictine Is More Than a Great Tea Sandwich
The Benedictine. It’s a dip. It’s a spread. And, as I recently learned, it is a brilliant topping for roasted salmon and vegetables. A creative cook can spin Benedictine into endless, delicious variations. What follows is the classic recipe, with options to make it the way I like it, which is fully Cajun.
This historic cucumber sandwich spread is so versatile and tasty it’s made its way out off the sandwich board and onto all other parts of the table.
- 4 or 5 Persian cucumbers, also called Kirby cucumbers; or 2 English cucumbers, partially or wholly peeled; seeded, cut into one-inch chunks.
- 2 tablespoons minced white onion (or an onion mix, see notes)
- 8 oz cream cheese (vegan cream cheese can be used), softened
- 1/4 c sour cream (vegan sour cream can be used)
- 1/2 tsp dried dill
- 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce
- Dash of Tobasco
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 T. lemon juice
Most recipes call for peeled cucumbers, but I like the flavor of a little peel. If you want, use a straight-peeler to peel strips from the cucumbers, or to peel them so that only a small stripe of peel is left on each. Then, slice them in half, use a spoon to remove the seeds and pulp, and cut into 1- or 2-inch chunks.
- Place the cucumber chunks into a food processor and process until they are finely chopped.
- Put the chopped cucumbers and the onions into a cheesecloth; squeeze all the liquid into a bowl; reserve the liquid.
- Wipe all the moisture from your food processor with a paper towel. Add the drained cucumber and onion into the food processor, add all the remaining ingredients, and process the mix on high until it is smooth. If it gets too thick or dry, add some of the reserved liquid until you get the consistency you want.
- Serve on toast or as a dip.
Tarragon and Worcestershire sauce are my add-ins for when I use this as a topping for salmon or roasted vegetables. Tarragon is a classic pair for seafood and dill is a classic pair for salmon, so this topping is perfect. If you want to get extra southern with it, add in a dollop of Duke’s mayonnaise and a heavy dash of Zatarain’s Cajun Spice.
- Skip the dill and use all tarragon.
- Replace the dill with dill pickle relish (watch the liquid if you do this).
- Use all the cucumber juice.
- Add two drops of green food coloring.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: dip
- Method: food processor
- Cuisine: southern
Keywords: Benedictine, Louisville
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Please note: Nutrition facts and calories per serving are approximate.
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