Thursday, April 21, 2011

Veggie Might: Creamy, Cheezy, Smoky, Spicy Grits with Kale

Penned by the effervescent Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about the wide world of Vegetarianism.

This week’s recipe is brought to you by my recent jaunt to my second home state and adjectives.

My boyfriend and I were in North Carolina’s Triangle region this past weekend to visit my best friend A and her hubby J, and to experience the 16th Annual Piedmont Farm Tour, sponsored by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.

The farm tour was delightful, informative, and organically delicious. Over two days, we toured four farms despite thunderstorms and tornadoes, which were mercifully to the east and south of us.

You’ll hear more about the farm tour in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I present to you these tasty, comforting grits that are helping me recover from travel and resume the swing of city life.

Grits is a versatile side dish that is traditionally served with breakfast, but makes a marvelous alternative to potatoes or rice with supper. I picked up a big bag of hominy grits at the Piggly Wiggly in Pittsboro, but it also comes in white and yellow corn varieties.

I ask only three things of grits: be creamy, be cheesy, and be spicy. Hot sauce takes care of spicy, and any good Southerner serves grits with a bottle of Tabasco or Texas Pete on the table. Creamy can be satisfied with butter and milk or their nondairy counterparts. I use a little nonhydrogenated vegan margarine and a splash of soy milk.

Cheesy is a trickier proposition if you're steering clear of dairy products, which I try to do for the most part. Once in a while I'll splurge on a little cheese, but for everyday eating, I avoid it. A few sprinkles of nutritional yeast does the job of adding the tang of cheese, as well as B12 vitamins.

For an extra punch of nutrition, I chose kale for its heartiness and texture. Kale stands up to the porridge and won't disappear like more delicate greens. And since no Southern dish is complete without a hamhock or or slab of bacon, I subbed my new favorite vegetarian alternative: smoked paprika. It adds a subtle hint of smoky flavor and leaves the pigglies still wiggling.

From now on, I'll ask four things of my grits. But no worries; they're up to the task.


If you dig this xx, you may also dig:

Creamy, Cheezey, Smoky, Spicy Grits with Kale
Serves 6

1 pound kale, washed, destemmed, and chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
3–6 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
2–3 tablespoons water

1 1/3 cups hominy grits
5 1/3 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon soy milk
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon nonhydrogenated vegan margarine
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon salt
black pepper to taste
hot sauce to taste

1) Wash, remove stems from kale, and chop. Heat olive oil in large heavy bottomed skillet. Cook garlic over medium heat for a minute or two, then add kale by the handful, stirring as it wilts. Drizzle in a couple tablespoons of water, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. (I like my kale on the crunchy side. Cook a little longer if you like yours softer.) Set kale aside.

2) In a large sauce pan, bring 5 1/3 cups water to a rolling boil. Slowly pour in grits while stirring. Mix in soy milk, vegan margarine, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and continually stir grits for 5 minutes, or until desired consistency is reached.

3) Fold in sauteed kale and serve hot with a dash of with hot sauce alongside baked tofu or scrambled eggs.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price per Serving
188.5 calories, 3.8g fat, 1.8g fiber, 2.7g protein, $.48

1 pound kale: 198 calories, 0.4g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $1.74
1 teaspoon olive oil: 39.6 calories, 4.6g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.03
3 cloves garlic: 12 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.04
1 1/3 cups hominy grits: 682 calories, 5g fat, 11g fiber, 16g protein, $.20
1 tablespoon soy milk: 5.4 calories, 0.3g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.02
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast: 94 calories, 1.4g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.66
1 tablespoon nonhydrogenated vegan margarine: 100 calories, 11g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.12
1 tablespoon smoked paprika: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
1 tablespoon salt: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
black pepper to taste: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
hot sauce to taste: negligible calories, fat, fiber, protein, $.02
TOTALS: 1131 calories, 22.7g fat, 11g fiber, 16g protein, $2.89
PER SERVING (TOTALS/6): 188.5 calories, 3.8g fat, 1.8g fiber, 2.7g protein, $.48

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Sassy Molassy said...

As a grit-loving, life-long southerner (Memphis), I have to say that I have never seen anyone put hot sauce on grits. Hash browns or home fries, always, but grits? Not that i know of. It might be a regional thing.

Leigh said...

Interesting, Sassy. I've lived in NC, Alabama, and Mississippi, and hot sauce on grits was universal. Of course, each area has it's own thing. Livermush, anyone? (Barf.)

Jessica said...

Leigh - I was so excited to see that you were here on the Piedmont Farm Tours! I've been living in the Triangle for the past few years and normally do the tours (fall and spring) too, but elected to go to the local wine festival instead this year. Sorry that you had such awful weather while you were here though, at least you were farther away from the worst of it. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your experiences. I just picked up my first ever CSA box (from Coon Rock Farms, they usually do the farm tours) last night - lots of greens! Maybe I'll try this with some of the swiss chard that I got.

MIchael said...

Sorry folks, I am born and raised in the Carolinas, nearly 6 decades now, and hot sauce on grits is absolutely NOT universal. It is indeed more popular with a younger generation, especially those NOT born in the South, and to whose taste buds grits seem bland and in need of the jolt of tabasco, etc. But to my great-grandmother, both grandmothers, and my 85 yr old mother, putting hot sauce on grits they served you would be an insult.

I do see it in restaurants these days, sometimes, but almost universally with a younger crowd, and where the grits are simply NOT traditional.