If you know my husband, you know his personality is sort of hard to pinpoint. Though he was born and raised in the South in a beach town, he doesn't fit many of the stereotypes. No truck, no hunting, no country music, doesn't like the beach, has pasty white skin, and hasn't owned a pair of swimming board shorts until I got them this past spring. However, there are two stereotypes that he does fit - he is extremely polite, calling people ma'am and sir, and he loves Southern comfort food. The boy could eat pulled pork barbecue until he's sick. Corn casserole, mac and cheese, southern style green beans... he's all over it.
When I saw this recipe in Eating Well magazine, I felt like it was representative of our marriage and combined personal tastes. Grits and greens screamed southern comfort food for JJ, and kale and polenta screamed healthy, easy weeknight casserole for me.
He loved this casserole, just as I had hoped. And to be truthful, I'm glad he doesn't fit all of the southern boy stereotypes, but if only I could find a way to get him to go to the beach with me...
Grits and Greens Casserole
adapted from Eating Well March/April
6 slices center cut apple wood smoked bacon, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups vegetable stock
2 lbs. kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
1 cup stone ground yellow grits
1 tsp. ground white pepper
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 egg white
Preheat oven to 400*
Spray a casserole dish with nonstick spray.
Heat a deep sauté' pan over medium, add bacon, stir and cook.
When bacon is crisp, remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined plate.
Pour fat out of pan, place back on the head and add onions and garlic.
Sauté' for 5 minutes, until caramelized.
Add 1 cup of stock and kale, toss, turn heat to low, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, until tender.
Bring remaining 3 cups of vegetable stock to a boil in a pot.
Pour in grits, whisk constantly, bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low, stirring often.
Cook for 5-8 minutes, until thickened, remove from heat.
Stir in egg white, tomato paste and cheese, mix well.
Spread half the grits in the bottom of the casserole dish, top with the kale, then another layer of grits.
Sprinkle with bacon and place in the oven.
Cook for 15-20 minutes, until hot and bubbling.
Rest casserole for 5 minutes before serving.