“Savannah is amazing with the town squares and the hanging moss and the French Colonial houses. It’s brutally romantic.” – David Morrissey
Last summer, I went on vacation to visit friends and family up and down the east coast. My southernmost stop was Savannah, GA, a city that was totally new to me. I fell completely and totally in love with this city, from her oppressively humid nights redolent with the smells of salt marsh and flowers to her gracious inhabitants. I also fell in love with southern food.
A friend called me up one morning at 7:00 and asked me to meet him for breakfast. He was just getting off his shift at the firehouse and wanted to eat before he headed home. So we met at a restaurant on River Street (pictured above) and sat at the worn wooden bar. He ordered a Bloody Mary and we got two plates of shrimp and grits. It was the one dish that I had on my “must try” list, and if breakfast was a good time to have it, I was game. When I put the first forkful of warm, creamy, cheesy grits into my mouth, I thought I might swoon. It was the ultimate comfort food, and exceeded all my expectations. I couldn’t get enough! I remember giving him some of my shrimp, because the meal became all about the grits for me.
Since returning home, I’ve tried recreating that unbelievable plate of grits. I’m not there yet (I suspect they used some shrimp stock in theirs), but this is a passable version. There are a lot of recipes that call for using milk instead of water, but I don’t love it that way – it’s too creamy. If you want to go that route, start with half milk (unsweetened almond milk) and half stock and adjust to taste from there. I’ve added chopped spinach, which is completely optional. Let the grits cool in a mold for slicing and sauteing or add a little extra water for a softer version.
Cheesy Spinach Grits
serves 4 as a side dish
- 2 cups water
- 1 tsp. Better than Bouillon vegetable bouillon paste
- 1/2 cup white grits, not instant
- 1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 3/4 – 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (use Daiya if going vegan)
- a palmful of parmesan or vegan parmesan cheese
- In a medium sized saucepan, bring water and bouillon paste to a boil over high heat. Whisk in grits, reduce heat to low, and cover.
- Cook 12 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent lumps. Uncover and add cheeses and spinach, stirring to incorporate well.
- Taste for seasoning, adding salt if desired (I found the salt in the bouillon was adequate). Pour into molds and chill or eat right away.
- To reheat, cut cakes out of the molded cold grits. Melt Earth Balance or butter in a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a teaspoon or so of oil. Add grit cakes and fry until golden brown and warm.
These are good any time of day or night.
As always, comments are welcome!
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