Jen tells a classic story which I’ll call “Jen’s Mom and the ‘Cheese’ Grits.” Once, way down south, Jen’s mom volunteered to bring cheese grits to a school function. When she got home to make them, she realized she only had 2 slices of American cheese for the whole vat of grits. Not to be outdone by a lack of cheese, she set about making the dish. A few drops of red and yellow food coloring, a couple dashes of garlic powder, and a blanket of shredded cheese originating from those two small slices made a mound of grits with barely any cheese inside. Her “cheese” grits were the hit of the party, no one the wiser.
I was reminded of this story when we received a pouch of pureed Butternut Squash from a winter CSA we’re a part of. Every time I looked at it, I couldn’t help but think of how cheddary the squash looked. I found myself forgetting what butternut squash tasted like, and began imagining it must taste only like something cheesy and decadent. I decided to use this lapse of memory to my advantage by using the squash in a place I would expect to find cheese and see how my mouth reacted. What I ended up with was something even more decadent than actual cheese grits – grits with such a rich array of flavors I actually ate them for dinner, as a main course no less.
Recipe: Vegan Extra Cheesy Grits
Makes 4-6 servings
- 2 cups cooked and pureed butternut squash
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup instant grits
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- tsp salt
- hot sauce to taste
- fresh ground black pepper as garnish
- Combine all ingredients except the hot sauce and black pepper into a large microwavable bowl (1.5 quart or larger, preferably non-plastic). Stir evenly.
- Microwave for 5 minutes at a time, stirring between each round. Cook until grits are fully puffed. The grits I used cooked in about 20 minutes total.
- Stir hot sauce and black pepper into the whole thing, or into each individual serving. Serve warm as a main dish or a side.
About this author: I'm a New Yorker who would rather cook than go out to restaurants. Sometimes I think I may be in the wrong city for that. Then I remember the exotic ingredients I'd be hard-pressed to find if I lived somewhere else. My cooking style is an eclectic range of everyday-American, Italian, middle-eastern, with extensive forays into Japanese cuisine, and some pit-stops into Indian and African cuisines. I love to try my hand at recreating dishes I taste. While I enjoy most anything with a flavor, from high cuisine to instant junk food, I have a soft spot in my belly for home-style cooking no matter the geographic or ethnic origin. Read more from this author...