Southern Goat Cheese Grits & Vegetable Bowl

A big bowl of creamy goat cheese grits are topped with braised greens, roasted sweet potato, black-eyed peas and salsa verde in this Southern inspired vegetable bowl. 

Southern Goat Cheese Grits & Veggie Bowl

My favorite thing about food is how it can instantly transport me to some of my happiest memories.  A chewy everything bagel, layered thick with cream cheese and lox brings me back to childhood. The smell of black bean soup simmering on the stove reminds me of when Atlanta was hit with a freak snowstorm, and a piping hot bowl was the perfect warming dinner after playing outside all day. The simple act of spreading creamy camembert on crusty bread or a crisp apple takes me to France, where I first discovered my love of food and travel.

Working with clients to build a positive relationship with food, food memories are a frequent topic of conversation. I love to learn what foods make people happy! Living in the agricultural South, it's neat to see how often vegetables play a starring role.

I often recreate favorite food memories in the kitchen. This past week Scott and I made it a goal to spend more quality time together after a busy month, so I decided to surprise him with a favorite dish from our travels.

Grits Bowl with Sweet Potato, Greens and Black-Eyed Peas

Before we were engaged, we took an anniversary trip to Asheville and ate our way through town. The best kind of trip, don't 'cha think :) On our first day, we stumbled upon Tupelo Honey Cafe, which has since opened locations all over the South. Since Tupelo Honey by Van Morrison is our song, we decided it was a clear sign to eat there for dinner.

After their famous brown butter pecan pie, the highlight of the meal was the veggie bowl - creamy goat cheese grits topped with sauteed greens, crispy fried okra, black-eyed peas and salsa verde. If no one else was there, I totally would have licked the bowl!

[Tweet "A recipe for Southern goat cheese grits & veggie bowl, topped with sweet potato, greens and black-eyed peas"]

For my recreation, I swapped out roasted sweet potato for the fried okra, but when it's in season, I'll definitely make it again with oven fried okra. I'd love to try it with my mushroom gravy too!

Tupelo Honey Veggie Bowl

Speaking of happy food memories, living in the South, grits are definitely another reoccurring theme with my clients. They're always happy to learn grits are actually a nutritious whole grain, or at least, can be. While instant and quick grits have been refined to remove the germ (where most of the nutrients are found) and the hull (fiber), most stone-ground corn grits are whole grain.

Here in Columbia, we're lucky to have world famous Anson Mills grits sold locally. I buy mine at Rosewood Market, where they always have a great selection of their products. You can also order them online if you don't live in here in Cola. Or, try Bob's Red Mill, a brand sold at most grocery stores.

If you make this bowl, I bet you, PLEASE use stone ground grits. The rich corn flavor and creamy texture makes a world of difference! If you swap anything, try polenta, which is simply Italian grits.

What are your favorite food memories? 

Southern Goat Cheese Grits & Vegetable Bowl
Author: Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
Feel free to swap out seasonal vegetables. In the summer, oven roasted tomatoes could stand in for sweet potatoes, and in the spring, asparagus. You could also use any type of winter squash you like.
Ingredients
  • [b]Grits: [/b]
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk or organic milk
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup stone ground grits
  • 3 ounces goat cheese
  • [b]Vegetables:[/b]
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, in 1-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb greens, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black-eyed peas
  • 1 cup salsa verde, jarred or homemade
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Bring almond milk and water to a boil in a medium pot. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and slowly pour in the grits while whisking to prevent clumping. Season with black pepper. Cook while whisking frequently for 30 minutes until thickened and creamy. Crumble in goat cheese and stir until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper and spread evenly on a large baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes total, flipping halfway, until tender and browned.
  4. While grits are cooking and potatoes are roasting, heat remaining tablespoon oil in a large sided skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook an additional minute until fragrant. Add greens, 1/4 cup water, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on medium heat until greens are tender, stirring every so often and adding more water if it looks dry. The greens will cook for a total of 15 minutes.
  5. Divide the grits evenly between four bowls. Top with greens, sweet potatoes and black-eyed peas. Drizzle with salsa verde and serve.

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