Grits take center stage in this tasty and speedy dish that might well become as much a family favorite in your kitchen as it has been in mine. Vegan cheese grits topped with hardy greens and vegan bacon makes a great weekend brunch option or anytime dinner.
It’s also a perfect companion with bean dishes, and is a nice change of pace from potatoes or rice.
What are grits?
Grits, also known as hominy grits, are hulled, dried, and cracked corn kernels. To add variety to your grain repertoire, give them a try! Stone-ground grits, which I highly recommend, are more flavorful than the stripped-down quick-cooking grits sold in supermarkets.
Grits are a close cousin to the type of cornmeal used in Italian polenta, which is almost, but not quite as coarse.
While grits are best known for their traditional role as a breakfast staple of the American south, they’re terrific for dinner as well. Like coarse cornmeal described above, grits cook to a mushy texture. They make a soft bed of naturally gluten-free grain for bean and vegetable dishes. or even as a pleasant side dish.
Grits can also play a starring role in simple preparations. See lots more information about grits.
How to cook grits
The directions for cooking grits are almost identical to those for polenta. Bring 4 cups water to a simmer in a roomy saucepan. Sprinkle in a cup of stone-ground grits, whisking all the while. Turn the heat down to very low and cover the saucepan with the lid slightly ajar.
Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, whisking frequently to prevent lumping. If the mixture is too thick, whisk in an additional 1/2 cup of water. Stir in a tablespoon or two of vegan buttery and season with salt. This makes 4 generous or 6 moderate servings.
What to serve with Vegan Cheese Grits
This dish pairs perfectly with a simple bean salad. Consider these:
Explore lots more delicious vegan brunch recipes on this site. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
- 1 cup grits, preferable stone-ground (see Note)
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vegan butter
- 1 cup vegan cheddar or pepperjack shreds
- Salt to taste
- 5 to 6 ounces leafy greens (kale, collards, spinach, or baby power greens)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 to 6 strips tempeh bacon, cut into bits
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Extra cheese, optional
- Bring 4 cups water to a gentle simmer. Slowly whisk in the grits, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Cook gently over low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender and thick. Or follow package instructions, as they vary from one brand to another.
- While the grits are cooking, prepare the topping. If using kale or collards, strip the leaves away from the stems. Chop or cut into ribbons. For spinach or baby power greens, you need not do anything but rinse.
- Heat the oil in a skillet or stir-fry pan. Add the tempeh bacon and sauté for a few minutes, stirring, until starting to turn golden. Add the greens and cover. If using kale or collards, lift the lid and stir occasionally until tender but still bright green, about 8 minutes. If using spinach or baby power greens, just a minute or two will do until they’re wilted.
- Stir the tomatoes in with the greens and tempeh bacon and cook for a minute or so longer until softened, then remove from the heat.
- When the grits are done, stir in the corn kernels, vegan butter, and cheese shreds. Cook for another minute or two, until the cheese is fairly well melted. Season with salt.
- Distribute the grits among bowls and top with the greens and tempeh bacon mixture, or serve on plates, side by side. Scatter a little extra vegan cheese shreds over the top of each serving if you'd like. Serve at once.
You can substitute coarse polenta cornmeal, which is quite similar. Bob’s Red Mill offers both kinds.
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