My husband T and I were traveling this week and came home to a virtually empty fridge. I originally had the brilliant idea of making vegan Chiles Rellenos with poblanos we’d bought weeks ago and never got around to using, but I was dismayed to find that the peppers were rotten in a few areas. Too exhausted to go shopping, I salvaged as much of the peppers as a I could, then foraged through my kitchen looking for inspiration, eventually finding a few random items: grits, broccoli, and a canister of roasted peanuts. I’d recently stumbled upon an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives in which Guy Fieri gobbles up a bowl full of mouth watering Cajun grits, so I decided to put my own (vegan) spin on this classic dish. The end result was a rich and incredibly tasty meal that I think will become part of my regular rotation. Even T, who still eats dairy, agreed that the grits tasted genuinely cheesy and that he would have never guessed they were vegan.
Mexican-style Veggies with Cheesy Grits (Vegan)
Serves 2 big eaters
To prepare the veggies:
2-3 small poblanos and/or bell peppers (Prepared like this if you have time and then chopped, otherwise just chopped)
1 small head of broccoli, chopped into bite-sized florets
1-2 shakes chili powder and/or cumin
1 splash hot sauce of your choice (I use Tabasco Chipotle Sauce)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon vegan butter
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
salt to taste
Note: I used poblanos and broccoli in the amounts above because that’s what I happened to have on hand, but feel free to use whichever veggies you have available, in whatever quantity you like. This dish would be great with spinach, kale, green beans, you name it.
- Sautee the peppers and broccoli with the olive oil until sizzling. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of water (I just wet my hands a couple times and shake the water into the pan) and cover until the broccoli is flexible but still crisp.
- Season with spices, hot sauce, and nutritional yeast.
- Turn off heat while you prepare the grits. Just before they’re ready to serve, add peanuts, reheat on low, add butter, and stir to coat. Adjust seasoning if needed.
To prepare the Cheesy Grits:
Can also be made on its own as a side dish, or served with an Italian or Cajun-spiced topping for another easy meal.
1 cup grits
5 cups non-dairy milk, broth, and/or water (I usually use 2 cups milk, 2 cups broth, 1 cup water)
2 tablespoons (at least) nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon miso paste* (If you don’t have this on hand, it’s fine to leave it out, but this is a great item to keep in your pantry, When used with nutritional yeast and mustard, it lends a wonderful cheddar-like flavor to vegan dishes.)
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (Again, not absolutely necessary if you don’t have it on hand, but a hint of nutmeg evokes creaminess because it’s so often used in cheese sauces)
salt to taste (amount will depend on the saltiness of the liquids you use)
- Bring liquids to a rolling boil in a medium sized pot, and prepare grits according to instructions on package. (You will likely have to simmer the grits and liquids for 15-20 minutes until soft and creamy.)
- Stir in nutritional yeast and remaining ingredients, ensuring that the miso is melted and well distributed.
- Season to taste, adding more mustard, nutritional yeast, and miso to reach desired level of “cheesiness.”
- Scoop the grits into a shallow bowl and top with sauteed vegetables.