Miss Jennie's Famous Benedictine Spread ♥ Recipe

Miss Jennie's Famous Benedictine Spread
Just in time for Derby Day, a famous recipe from Kentucky, the heart of horse country. It's a "skinny" dip, bulked up with grated cucumber and pretty pale green in color.

Never ever did I dream I'd keep green food coloring on hand. Never never ever. But then last summer, my friend 'moo' – that's short for Margie Olsen Olson, yes it happens, an Olsen married an Olson; have I told you about my girlfriend Cary who met and married a man also named Cary? so yes it happens – responded to my call for cucumber recipes with the note, "What about cucumber/yogurt soup [with buttermilk] and a cream cheese spread for tea sandwiches, called Benedictine?" I already had a dreamy cucumber soup recipe, Cool-as-a-Cucumber Avocado Soup but the Benedictine cream cheese spread, it caught my eye.

A little google action turned me onto the history of Benedictine spread. Between the 1890s and the 1920s, "Miss Jennie" Benedict of Louisville (for full effect, pronounce this with a flat Kentucky accent, loo-a-vil) was a successful businesswoman, the editor of the local paper's household section for a time and a community volunteer. She operated a catering business and several tearooms. In 2008, her 1922 cookbook was republished, The Blue Ribbon Cook Book. (Source: Louisville Courier-Journal)

Back to the spread, which in MIss Jennie's world was used for tea sandwiches, and the green food coloring. Sure, you can make it without the food coloring, I did, just once. And no kidding, the green food coloring makes the creamy stuff taste better! That pale green color is so appealing, it just goes to show that our food tastes are based as much on the eyes as the taste buds.

I love this stuff: it mixes up in a few minutes, it needs no rest time although sure, make it ahead of time if you like. I've been making it since last summer but have yet to tuck it into sandwiches but the next time I host a tea party, sure, I will, and yes, moo, you and the OCHER-YaYa's are invited, gloves and hats expected.


Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 5 minutes
Makes 1/2 cup, easily doubled, halved, etc.

2 ounces low-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise
Green food coloring, preferably gel (see TIPS)
Sprinkle of onion powder (or a tiny smidge of grated onion)
Pepper to taste

1 cucumber, peeled

With a spoon, mix the cream cheese, mayonnaise, green food coloring, onion powder and pepper. Cut the cucumber into thirds, then each third into quarters, slice off the seeds from each piece. Grate about 1/3 of the cucumber into the cream cheese mixture and stir in. Season to taste with Tabasco and transfer to a serving bowl. Cut the remaining cucumber pieces into thin strips and arrange on a place surrounding the spread. Serve and savor!

There are many variations of Benedictine Spread so feel free to play around, just be sure to include cream cheese lightened with mayonnaise, cucumber, a touch of onion, a touch of heat and yes, the green food coloring.
Gel food coloring creates the gentle, pale-green coloring that's so pretty and "tastes good". Liquid food coloring is hard to add "just a little" – a tiny, tiny, TINY drop – and anymore turns the stuff a bright unworldly green. Or maybe stick a toothpick into the bottle of regular food coloring to get just a tiny tiny TINY drop.

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This recipe is so quick and easy that I'm adding it to a growing collection of easy summer recipes published all summer long in 2009 and 2010 at Kitchen Parade, my food column, and now again in 2011. With a free Kitchen Parade e-mail subscription, you'll never miss a one!

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2011
Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I smiled to see Benedictine in my inbox today! I'm from Shelbyville, KY (a half hour from Louisville) and grew up having Benedictine sandwiches at church functions and receptions and the like. I have a bad memory of trying to make some when I was in high school. I was chopping onion and a piece flew in my eye--I've never forgotten that! I still love Benedictine, though!

  2. Thanks for sharing;the cucumber and spread looks so yummy:)

  3. Thanks for this recipe (I've lost 37 pounds on WW so far, so I love to try new skinny recipes), but I have to correct your pronunciation of Louisville. I'm from Lawrenceburg, about an hour from there (Hi, TracyB). The way to say it is: Loo-a-vul. Or, if you are a UK fan during basketball season, it's loo-a-VILE. Ha! I love your site and mentioned it in my blog recently! www.nobodysaideasy.wordpress.com

  4. I was just scrolling down to share a proper pronunciation of Miss Jenny's and my hometown but I see Joann beat me to it!

    I also have to laugh because I have been meaning to post about Benedictine for a week or so but haven't gotten the post written yet. Of course my recipe does not include mayonnaise but, as you say, there are many recipes for Benedictine, the primary constants being cream cheese, cucumber and the green food coloring. As to the last: what's wrong with a little "bright unworldly green" on a tea sandwich during Derby week? :-)

  5. What a neat name :) I think I'd leave the food colouring out (it's not even widely available in the shops in this part of the world) and leave the cucumber unpeeled - this way I'd get the green hue anyway ;)

  6. AnonymousMay 06, 2011

    This looks yummy! I will have to try it this weekend!! Thanks for posting all the great recipes.

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. I recently bought a container of said spread from the local Krogers, and found that it really did not taste right. on the label, it listed mayonnaise in the ingredients, and I realized that that was the taste that messed it up. it was nothing like the spread my mom used to make, or that I've had at a few dozen weddings and Derby parties around Louisville ( Lou-Uh-Vul, not -Vil). So I googled it and found:
    - your 2011article and several others show mayonnaise as an ingredient, but some others leave it out.
    - per the courier journal article that your article mentioned, it did not originally have mayonnaise.
    - the most recent edition of the Jenny Benedict cookbook includes the recipe, but I didn't buy it yet so I'm not sure if it does or does not have mayonnaise in that text.

    Regardless of the source, in my 54 years of living in Louisville, it never had mayonnaise until quite recently.

    Just thought I'd share.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna