Monday, October 4, 2010

Grits and Greens Casserole

In my never ending quest to convice Joey that he does, in fact love greens, I pulled out the big guns - mix them with bacon, cheese, and grits.  And guess what?  It worked!  As a matter of fact, we all really enjoyed this meal.  I served this with sauteed apples and onions to round out a wonderful weeknight dinner.

For a meal that sounds indulgent, this is actually surprisingly light.  Sure, there is bacon and cheese, but its used sparingly, and that's pretty much the only source of fat.  It also contains a pound of greens, which we all know are a powerful superfood.  And I made it even healthier (and allergen free for Caroline) by replacing the egg with pumpkin.  I'll admit that I was a little nervous about the substitution, but I think it actually worked really well.  The pumpkin gave a nice subtle flavor, and the grits still had a great creamy texture.  Topped with hot sauce, this was such a great and comforting dinner.  This can also easily be made vegetarian by omitting the bacon (just use olive oil to cook the onions) and replacing the chicken broth with vegetable broth or water.  With all the kale, turnip, and mustard greens we'll be receiving in our CSA this fall, grits and greens casserole is sure to become a dinner (or brunch) staple. 

Grits and Greens Casserole
adapted from Savour Fare, orginally from Eating Well Magazine

  • 4 slices bacon, chopped

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 2 cups chicken broth, divided

  • kosher salt

  • 1 lb. chopped southern style greens

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 cup old-fashioned grits

  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided

  • 1/3 c salsa

  • 1/4 cup pumpkin or butternut squash puree

  • hot sauce, for serving

  •  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray an 8x8 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
    Cook the bacon in a large dutch oven until browned and crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with a paper towel. 

    Remove all but about 2 teaspoons of the bacon grease, and add the onion.  Saute until tender, and add the garlic.  Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  

    Add 1 cup of the chicken broth and a hefty pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil.  Add the greens, a handful at a time, and stir to wilt.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are tender, 5-10 minutes.  Add water if the greens stick or the liquid evaporates.

    Meanwhile, bring the remaining broth and 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add the grits in a stream, constantly whisking to prevent lumps from forming.  Season with salt, and bring to a simmer.  Whisking often, cook until thickened.

    In a large bowl combine 3/4 cup of the cheese, salsa, pumpkin, and salt and pepper.  Add the grits and stir well to combine.  

    Spread half the grits in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with the greens, then sprinkle hot sauce over the top (use your own discretion depending on your tolerance for heat).  Top with the remaining grits.  Smooth the top with a spatula, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese and reserved bacon.  

    Bake 20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.  Serve with hot sauce.


    Kira said...

    I love this casserole! The addition of pumpkin is genius. If we get any more greens in our CSA this fall, I'll have to remember to make this again.

    Atlanta, Food and Love said...

    Sounds amazing!

    the blissful baker said...

    i don't have much experience with grits, but this sounds yummmy! and i like the pumpkin substitution!

    julialikesred said...

    Oooh, I love this idear. I still have a huge back of grits to get through before they go stale on me - I'll def be do this to some of them.

    Eliana said...

    This casserole looks and sounds amazing. And what's not to love when it's covered in cheese :)

    zen chests said...

    Never thought that adding pumpkin in it will make it more delicious! Thanks for sharing the idea.

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