My oh my, how do I love grits. My dad got us started early on this Southern staple by making us cheese grits on cold mornings then we progressed to a more sophisticated version with shrimp ‘n grits on our visits to the Lowcountry beach area of SC. So last weekend, when my daughter and I headed over to try a vegan restaurant, the Sunflower Diner in West Asheville, I was sold on their version of grits and greens.
I believe I love greens as much as I love grits. One of my favorite veggies, they can be grown in our region year round and are quite versatile in their capacity to be the star of a dish or serve as the backdrop to highlight other ingredients.
Kale is our tried and true garden staple year round, but we’ve also sown arugula, spinach, pak choi, and broccoli raab (or rapini). This year, however, we’ve come to relish a new green – sweet potato leaves!
I’d seen an Insta post by Sow True Seed highlighting the nutritional value of this under leafy green. In fact, in many parts of the world, this is a highly valued food source. Some facts about sweet potato leaves that caught my attention:
- Great source of vitamins C, A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, zinc, folic acid, dietary fiber and plant protein (Health Benefits Times)
- Provides 88% of your daily Vitamin K intake; vitamin K supports both bone and heart health (Harvard School of Public Health)
- High in polyphenols which are associated with reduced risk of chronic disease and cancer (Journal of Regenerative Medicine)
- Reduces inflammation
Besides that, they taste great – my family couldn’t even tell a difference when I substituted them for kale and pak choi in a stir fry!
So, our new favorite around here has become our own version of grits ‘n greens with sweet potato leaves and baby kale from our garden. The recipe below is our standard, but we also throw other items in on occasion – veggies from the CSA box, end-of-the-season fresh herbs from the garden, etc.
While we’ve not branched out into including harissa like the Sunflower Diner, just the idea of kids eating greens on a regular basis is enough for me!
Growing Grace Farm’s Grits ‘n Greens
2 cups prepared yellow stone ground grits or “polenta”
2 cups freshly chopped sweet potato leaves + 2 cups freshly chopped kale OR 4 cups of any greens you prefer
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 green onions (tops and bottoms) minced or cut with herb scissors
3 cloves garlic grated finely
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
juice of one fresh lemon
salt and pepper to taste
other options: freshly chopped basil and/or oregano, roasted tomatoes, dollop of hummus, crumbled goat cheese, chopped leeks, roasted red peppers, chopped walnuts
can also be: vegan friendly,
- Prepare grits or polenta to you liking and keep warm.
- In sauté pan, add some olive oil, grated garlic, green onions, mushrooms, salt and pepper and sauté on medium-medium low heat for 5 minutes.
- Squeeze 1/2 lemon juice into pan then toss in greens. Stir and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
- Divide grits among plates and spoon greens and mushrooms on top of grits.
- Drizzle a bit of olive oil over each plate and squeeze a bit of lemon juice on each as well.
- Sprinkle a couple of pinches of parmesan cheese on top of greens.
- Add any other additions to suit your taste!
Serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a side dish.