Cheesy grits with buttery garlic kale, sweet corn, and roasted tomatoes

There's a brunch spot just down the street from our apartment that we like to frequent. Cafe Flora serves delicious vegetarian food, and I could eat it a million times and never get sick of it. I would have to say that Cafe Flora is one of the best vegetarian breakfast spots in all of Seattle. They serve wonderful things like fresh veggie scrambles, breakfast quesadillas, beignets, grapefruit mimosas, and waffles like the caramel and peach I had a few days back. Most importantly, I to Cafe Flora for their cheesy grits.

I've always wondered how they make their grits so delicious. I tried to recreate them last year while visiting family in Canada, but I had to resort to using polenta (I could not find grits anywhere). When I asked, most of the grocery store employees had never heard of them. I bought a box of polenta, and tried to cook it up following a grits recipe, but it just didn't taste the same as the grits I am accustomed to. I returned back to Seattle and continued indulging in the cheesy grits from Cafe Flora and never really thought about recreating them at home again. 

I had some close friends visit last weekend. It's always fun having people visit Seattle, it gives me an excuse to be a tourist in my own city. I brought them to Cafe Flora for brunch. It's a great spot to bring a group of friends because of its large brightly lit rooms covered in plants somewhat resembling a green house and the excellent vegetarian food. It's always a hit, especially when you start the meal off with a couple of beignets and a mimosa.

While we were leaving the restaurant, my friend surprised me with the Cafe Flora cookbook for my birthday, and you can bet that the first thing I made was the grits, just as soon as I picked up a box of legit Albers Enriched Hominy Quick Grits.

I made the grits from the cookbook and they were really easy.  I'm not a huge fan of oatmeal or cream of wheat, even with a generous serving of maple syrup, and nuts, but it turns out that I'm really more of a cover-my-breakfast-cereal-in-cheese type of person, which is perfect for grits.  

For my first ever homemade grit creation, I wanted to add a few of my favorite ingredients - tomatoes, corn, and kale. Seriously, no jokes, it's been nothing but corn, tomatoes, and kale around here for weeks, and I am loving it. It's how I am coping with the end of summer. To add a little extra flare to this dish, I added some more cheese, grated on top, a few dashes of hot sauce, and then left the bottle on the table just in case some more spice was necessary, along with a few slices of serrano peppers. It was incredible. 



makes 2 - 3 servings

cheesy grits adapted from

Cafe Flora

notes: heavy cream or half and half can be used for the grits. You can even sub in milk if you prefer. I liked to add mozzarella cheese to the grits, but you can use any cheese that you have on hand. Add a bit of butter at the end of cooking to enhance their creaminess. 

1 cob of corn, shucked

1 cup of cherry tomatoes + drizzle of olive oil

1 cup of cream

2 cups of water

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup of grits

1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded

hot sauce to taste

1 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, chopped

1/2 cup broth

1 bunch of kale, chopped thinly

parmesan cheese

1 serrano chili pepper, thinly sliced

Bring the corn cob to a boil in a medium saucepan on high heat. Continue to boil until the corn becomes tender. Remove from the water and let cool. Just before you are ready to plate the meal, slice the corn kernels from the cob and sprinkle on top.

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Place the cherry tomatoes onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until they turn golden brown and begin to burst. Remove from the oven and set to the side.

Bring 1 cup of heavy or half and half cream, 2 cups of water, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan on med-high heat. Once boiling, slowly add the grits while stirring with a whisk to prevent lumps. Reduce the heat to med-low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the stove and stir in the mozzarella and hot sauce. Cover and set to the side.

As soon as you place the water and cream on the stove for the grits, add the olive oil, garlic clove, broth, and kale to a large frying pan on med-high heat. Sautée until the greens are wilted.

You may need to whisk in a bit of cream or water to the grits to thin them out, depending on your preferences. Plate the grits, then a generous serving of kale, followed by the corn, and roasted tomatoes. Drizzle the liquid from the sautéed kale on top, and garnish with parmesan cheese, and thinly sliced peppers. Grits do not reheat well.