As a northern girl, grits were never something that crossed my mind to make at home. That is, until my sweet man who grew up in Georgia came along. It only took a few meals of creamy savory heaven, and I was hooked! The south sure does have us all beat when it comes to comfort food, and grits are no different. This version takes the classic cheddar grits to the next level by adding a whole bunch of pureed kale for some serious nutrition!
Top a bowl with caramelized leeks, an egg over easy, and a few slices of bacon and you have a hearty meal for any time of day! We love having grits for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Pureeing a whole bunch of kale with some water results in the most brilliantly colored green puree you can imagine. That vibrant chlorophyll is enough to bring a smile to your face on even the greyest of winter days (this coming from the midst of the rainiest Portland winter!). Adding this puree to our cooked grits give them the most glorious color.
This recipe can also be used as a template for making a more classic kale-free version of grits. Simply omit the kale to make cheesy cheddar grits, or omit both the kale and the cheddar for your classic buttered grits.
Green Grits with Caramelized Leeks
1 1/2 cups grits
6 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 bunch kale or collards
2 leeks, finely chopped
5 Tbsp butter, divided
1 cup grated aged cheddar cheese
3 Tbsp lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste
- In a medium to large saucepan, combine grits and water. Let soak for 4-6 hours (or overnight!). This step is optional, but will hurry along the cooking process and result in creamier grits. After the soaking period, skim any hulls off the top of the water.
- Bring water and grits to a boil over high heat, stirring vigorously the entire time. Then remove the pot from the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes. You'll return to grits that have absorbed a surprising amount of water!
- Use these 10 minutes to prepare your kale! Remove the stems from the kale, and chop it roughly. Place the kale in a blender with about 1 cup water and blend until well pureed.
- Also get started on caramelizing your leeks. Heat about one tablespoon of the butter over medium heat, then add the leeks. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until the leeks have softened and started to brown. When browned, remove from heat and reserve.
- Place your pot over medium heat, and continue cooking for about 30 minutes, stirring regularly to start and constantly as the grits start to thicken. Alternatively, you can cook them over low heat to decrease the need for constant stirring.
- When the grits have thickened and have lost their crunch, add the pureed kale. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes longer, allowing the water from your kale puree to cook out.
- Remove from heat, and stir in 4 Tbsp butter, cheese, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until melted and fully combined.
- Serve garnished with leeks, and optionally with eggs over easy and bacon as well!