Yum

Stone ground grits cooked with cheddar and smoked gouda cheeses, smokey collard greens, and Swiss chard sauteed with roasted tomatoes.

Cheesy Grits and Greens The Wimpy Vegetarian

My mom was a southern girl reluctantly transplanted into northern soils as a young bride. She adjusted to her new home, but she missed the hot, sunny days of her youth, and her extended family. One of the ways she kept her southern roots alive was through her childhood comfort food, which often showed up on my plate.

I was fairly adventurous growing up, but try as I might, I could never sidle up to grits. All we had available in our small town were instant grits, which looked unappealingly watery and lumpy as I moved them around my plate, in the desperate hope that dispersion would be mistaken for consumption. Inexplicably (to me), both of my parents just loved those grits.

Cheesy Grits and Greens The Wimpy Vegetarian

Fast-forward to last December, and an unexpected gift of stone ground grits from North Carolina. After briefly considering re-gifting them, I decided to give them a chance. After all, they were the real deal, and probably more like the ones my parents grew up with. I began to experiment with adding cheeses, herbs and milk, thinking back to my early grit years. It suddenly struck me that my most powerful food memories draw me completely into moments connected to a place, a time, and a feeling; the flavor of the food was somewhat secondary. I didn’t love grits as a child, but as I sat over my meal of cheesy, creamy grits, I realized they’d become a comfort food for me too, filled with memories of teasing laughter as my parents observed the wild disarray of grits scattered all over my plate.

 

Cheesy Grits and Smokey Greens Casserole
Author: 
Recipe type: Casserole
Serves: 2 - 4
 
Grits and greens are perfect foils for each other, with the creaminess of grits in perfect balance with the bitterness of greens. For this dish I used a combination of collard greens and Swiss chard, but kale and even mustard greens would work equally well. The greens are sautéed with onions, garlic, and smokey, warming spices that marry well with the smoked gouda in the grits. Roasted cherry tomatoes join the party in the skillet, and it all simmers in a little vegetable broth until the greens are tender. I added some crispy fried Andouille sausage to the dish to satisfy my husband, the Carnivore Maximus, but you could leave it out with losing any of the flavor punch this dish packs.
Ingredients
Smokey Greens:
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Andouille sausages, precooked (about 1 cup when sliced)
  • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 – 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ teaspoon smoky paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dried pepper flakes
  • 12 cups chopped greens (I used collards and Swiss chard)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Cheesy Grits:
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ½ cup stone ground grits (not instant!)
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese, well-packed
  • ¼ cup coarsely grated smoked gouda cheese, well-packed
  • dash hot sauce, to taste
  • pinch salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the cherry tomatoes in enough olive oil to coat them, lightly salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Rinse the greens well, and slice into thin slivers. I removed and discarded the stems of the collards, but kept the Swiss chard stems intact. Dry and set aside.
  3. Slice the sausages into thin rounds. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and sauté the sausage until slightly crispy. Set aside the sausage.
  4. In the fat and oil left in the skillet, sauté the onion until soft. Add the minced garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the roasted tomatoes and spices, and sauté another minute. Add the greens and toss well in the pan with tongs so they are completely coated with the tomato-onion mixture. Add additional olive oil if needed. Continue to sauté for 5 – 10 minutes until the greens are significantly softened and limp.
  5. Add the broth and salt, stir, and cover the pan. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the greens are tender. Add half of the crispy sausage. Correct for seasoning. Keep warm.
  6. Make the grits by bringing the milk and broth to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the grits and baking soda, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15 minutes, continuing to stir so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  7. Add the butter, cheeses, and hot sauce, stirring until melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Spoon the greens into a casserole dish, topping them with the grits. Chop up the remaining crispy sausage rounds, and sprinkle on top of the casseroles.
  9. Serve immediately or keep warm in a 350°F oven.
Notes
1. Makes two large single-serving casseroles. 2. Baking soda facilitates a faster and less worrisome cooking process of the grits due to its alkalinity. If eliminated, add 10 additional minutes to the cooking time. 3. This casserole can be made ahead, and stored in the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and bake for 20 minutes to completely rewarm.

This month is #Greenslove for the Love Blog Hop I frequently join. Check out my co-hosts this month and see what everyone’s cooking. You can add your own greens dish you post the month of March by using the linky tool down below!

ASTIG Vegan ~ Richgail ~  @astigvegan
Bon a croquer ~ Valerie ~ @Valouth
Cheap Ethnic Eatz ~ Evelyne ~ @cethniceatz
Easily Good Eats ~ Three Cookies
Georgiecakes ~ Georgie ~ @georgiecakes
Oh Cake ~ Jessica ~ @jesshose

 

 

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57 Responses to “True Grit(s)” Subscribe

  1. Suzanne March 3, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    I love the story, you are an amazing writer. The recipe is great also, I never tasted grits until I left home and have to say my first grit experience was not pleasurable. I have come to appreciate grits, good grits and I think they would be brilliant with the greens, Every time I think of grits I remember “My Cousin Vinny” did you see it? Joe Pesci’s reaction to grits in a southern diner, hilarious!!

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 3, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

      Thanks so much Suzanne! Grits are definitely not all created equal, I can attest to that :-)I LOVED “My Cousin Vinny” – it’s still one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. I’ll have to watch it again to catch the grits scene! It’s been way too long since I’ve seen it.

      • Suzanne March 3, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

        I hadn’t seen it in a very long time and watched it the other day, had me rolling, that Joe Pesci is hilarious!

        • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 3, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

          He was PERFECT in the role! I think I’ll see if I can rent it to see it tonight.

  2. Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table March 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    I love the idea of smokey greens! I can imagine the gouda was perfect with the smoke flavor. Would love to try these with chorizo soysage!

  3. Lynda - TasteFood March 3, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    Hmmmm… I can’t say I love grits, but then again what would I know as a yankee?

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 3, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

      Exactly! As your fellow yankee, I just thought my parents were nuts. And if I hadn’t gotten the stone ground variety from someone in North Carolina (in FOOD52′s secret santa last Christmas) who swore these were his favorites, I would NEVER have made them. Now, I see them as part of a regular rotation.

  4. Myles March 3, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

    Don’t often comment on my wife’s recipes, but this time I felt compelled to weigh in. I am not a fan of grits (unless they are DROWNED in butter), nor do I jump up and down over collards or swiss chard; but I have to say this meal had me standing on my seat clapping. Being a carnivore, I would have liked a tad more sausage, but really didn’t miss it. I enjoyed eating this concoction straight out of the casserole, and would recommend serving it that way to guests or family. Collards and grits, who would have thought?

  5. Laurie Dupree March 3, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    Susan, Funny, I don’t ever remember having your Mom serve me grits at your house as a child…..I may have given her the same reaction, especially if they were instant ~ those things should be BANNED! Funny thing though~ when I moved down to Atlanta and was first introduced to them at the old C&S Bank cafeteria, I wanted to put brown sugar and cream on them like the northern Cream of Wheat that we DID eat as children up north (along with Oatmeal, Scrappel or my Mom’s favorite, Pan fried Corn Meal Mush, which was from her upbringing in Southern Indiana!) Then someone introduced me to Cheese with Grits ~ I was officially branded a Damn Yankee as I stayed AND ate Grits!! :)) Still love them to this day and can’t wait to try your recipe ~ especially with the Gouda! YUM, YUM!!

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 3, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

      I think mom was smart enough not to foist them on anyone other than the immediate family, especially the instant ones she got at Ferri’s (remember that store?). Soooo sorry you had to miss out :-). Pan Fried Corn Meal Mush? Now that sounds interesting. I love how different parts of the country had mushy breakfast foods that were similar but oh so different.

  6. Soni March 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    You’re absolutely right!They’re the ultimate comfort meal and with those greens and sausages ,they’re even more delicious!Sending you some #Greenslove :)

  7. mjskit March 3, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    What a fabulous recipe! I make something similar, but with more modest seasoning on the greens. I love you’re bold flavors, especially the use of smoked paprika! Will definitely be giving that a try! Thanks for sharing and co-hosting this hop!

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 3, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

      Thanks so much mjskit! Would love to hear what you think if you try it. Sending lots of #greenlove back atcha :-)

  8. Laura @ The Art of Cooking Real Food March 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    Gosh – food is so totally like that, isn’t it? I can eat stuff I ate as a kid, and even if I didn’t like it, it reminded me of childhood, and somehow managed to taste better. Wow. I need to make these for my grits lovin’ mom. Thanks for the recipe!

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 3, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

      Totally. It’s kind of amazing, really. I had always thought it was all about some fabulous flavors. I loved these grits I made, but that’s not at all what made it a comfort food. It was the food memories of Saturday morning breakfasts when I was a kid :-) Who’d have guessed?

  9. Junia @ Mis Pensamientos March 3, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    the greens do go well with the grits and the gouda! reminds me of ultimate southern comfort food. :D great recipe! sending some #greenslove to you!

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 4, 2012 at 10:27 am #

      Thanks so much Junia! The gouda really pulls this one together for sure. I making it again this week since my husband liked it so much! Sending lots of #greenslove back atcha!!

  10. Jessica | Oh Cake March 4, 2012 at 5:48 am #

    I lived in North Carolina briefly during culinary school. Late nights after working until 2am at the restaurant I’d come home and make grits and fried eggs. Breaking the yolk into my heavily peppered grits was late-night heaven. I love your story and I love the way you’ve added great flavors through the gouda and sausage to make the relationship between grits and greens even stronger. Great post!

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 4, 2012 at 10:29 am #

      Oh wow – I will definitely make these with fried eggs. The yolk would be perfect with the grits. Thanks so much for your comments, Jess!!!

  11. Deanna @ Teaspoon of Spice March 4, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    Love the backgrounder to this post and though I’m East Coast born and breed, I call myself a Southern Wannabe. Last year, I ordered stone ground grits from a mill down south and they were awesome. Can’t wait to try your recipe (love that you used smoked paprika, too :)

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 4, 2012 at 10:31 am #

      Thanks Deanna! I’m now sold on stone ground, and will likely never veer. What a difference in texture and flavor they were. A revelation.

  12. gluttonforlife March 4, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    I love grits! Especially from Anson Mills–is that where yours came from? I also like to chill, slice and fry any leftovers, much as you would with polenta. Glad you came back to the fold…

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 4, 2012 at 10:35 am #

      :-). Next time I have leftovers, I’ll definitely chill, slice and fry them up – great idea, Laura! The grits sent to me are Stoneground Grits from Crook’s Corner in Hillsborough, NC. I heartily endorse them, and will check Anson Mills too. I have a whole new world of grits to explore now.

  13. Norma Chang March 4, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    I have never cooked grits but after reading your post I want to try, got to see if stone ground grits are available in our food markets.

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

      Definitely make sure they’re stone ground! And I’d love to hear what you think if you try them, Norma.

  14. Bevi March 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    Your recipe reminds me of the best grits I ever had – at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill.

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 4, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

      North Carolina must be the epi-center for stone ground grits! What was in the grits you had?

  15. Liz March 4, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    I don’t think I’ve ever had grits, but add cheese and serve them over your delicious greens and I’m in! Fabulous casserole! Sending you #greenslove!

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

      Thanks so much Liz! Grits are very similar to polenta. Sending you lots of #greenslove too!

  16. Elizabeth @Mango_Queen March 4, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    Great recipe of grits, greens and gouda! I’ve never made anything like this, but now you’ve inspired me to! Thanks for sharing the story, recipe and the #greenslove!

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 10, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

      Thanks so much Elizabeth! It’s a classic southern combination of flavors, and is a real “comfort meal”. I’d love to hear how it goes if you try it!

  17. dudut @mytwistedrecipe March 4, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

    thanks for introducing me to grits…i guess i have been seeing them here in Manila but just don’t know what they are called :)

    have to experiment on this thing sometime and this recipe of yours will be on of the things i will try :)

    glad to be co hosting with you for greenslove!

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 10, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

      Thanks dudut! If you have polenta, you could just use that with this recipe and never miss a beat. Lots of #greenslove backatcha!

  18. Serena March 4, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    I’m such a northern girl….can I use the stone-ground cornmeal (from a real mill near my house in Illinois) in place of the grits? I’d love to make this NOW…instead of waiting to order the grits. (:

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

      You can definitely use stone-ground cornmeal! It would work beautifully in this recipe. Would love to hear what you think if you try it!

  19. Jackie @ Vegan Yack Attack! March 4, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

    Those greens sound amazing! I’ll definitely be giving a vegan makeover to them, so that I can try them out. I love the texture of sauteed chard, too. Great pictures and story, sending #greenslove your way! :)

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 10, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

      Thanks so much Jackie! I’ve not made grits vegan, but the greens are obviously very easy to do. Hope you like them if you try them!

  20. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz March 5, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    Grits is completely foreign to me but I did discover some mostly unappealing ones during a trip in North Carolina, I guess they did not come from the same place as yours. Your dish looks truly appetizing and glad you have wonderful memories attached to it now. Beautiful creation for greenslove.

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

      Thanks Evelyne! All grits are definitely not created equal. There’s quite a range in texture, flavor, and the dish is largely dependent upon what’s added. Just as I don’t like pasta all by itself, I don’t like grits without something yummy going into them.

  21. Richgail March 5, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    This brings me back to the time my friend made me some grits. Yum. I love that you’ve added another component which is the smokey greens. A very thoughtful, warm dish!

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

      Thanks so much Richgail! The grits are good on their own, and so are the smokey greens. But the combination is what really makes this dish so well. We’re expecting a rainy week here, and this dish is calling me again. Perfect comfort dish for a rainy day!

  22. Hannah March 5, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    What timing…I just had grits with greens a poached eggs while out at brunch yesterday – loved the combination! I’m excited to try your recipe since I’ve never made grits before. Thank you for sharing!

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 10, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

      Thanks Hannah!! I’ve gotta try grits with a poached egg on top. That would be a phenomenal addition to this dish with the smokey greens. I’m doing it this week!! Would love to hear what you think if you make them.

  23. Becky March 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    This is a great recipe with the greens and gouda. My dad used to eat grits, but I could never get into them. Still haven’t. Sending #greenslove your way!

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

      I totally understand, Becky!! Totally :-) Sending you lots of #greenslove too!

  24. Terra March 7, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    It is funny, I grew up in Michigan, yet love love grits!!! My Mom made them with our breakfast every Sunday:-) This recipe looks delicious, I love the idea of complimenting them with smokey greens! Happy GreensLove:-) Hugs,Terra

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

      Thanks Terra! How nice that you grew up with them in the north too. Hopefully not instant :-) Happy #greenslove backatcha!

  25. Linda March 8, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    I’ve not used grits much, but I can so imagine this with polenta using the same ingredients! Sounds so comforting good!!

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 10, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

      Yes, polenta would work great in this recipe! Thanks so much for stopping by – I hope you give this recipe a try :-)

  26. Suzi March 9, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    Wow I love to hear storiest about grits. I am from South Florida and have always eaten them and loved them. The greens back in those days were my issue. I have since come love all things green except peas. I love your greens recipe too I am going to have to make that without the sausage. By the way it is nice to meet another veggie and I am so glad that I found your site. Have a lovely weekend.

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian March 10, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

      Welcome to my site, Suzi! My mom never went too far afield, so to speak, with greens. It was mostly spinach at our house, which thankfully I always liked. The smokey greens are great without the sausage – which is how I typically make it for me. I hope you try them – and would love to hear what you think. Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

  27. Liz March 11, 2012 at 4:35 am #

    PS…thanks so much for the feedback on my spinach salad! The original recipe called for strawberries only…so you did it right :) And I love your twist on the vinegar…mmmmmm. Have a great Sunday~

  28. Virtually Vegan Mama March 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    I love the sound of this recipe…yum!

    #greenslove

    Jen

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