Thursday, July 25, 2013

Baked Garden Greens and Cheesy Grits with Cucumber Salad

Kids and my brother with Bandit, Tommy Moe, and Chubby Checkers

Back in the days when the kids were little, we didn't have any trouble disposing of our extra chard--we fed it to the pet guinea pigs! These days, when the garden really gets cooking, I have to work at coming up with recipes.

By now you know I'm crazy for cheese grits (AKA polenta), so when I saw a recipe starring greens and grits, I couldn't resist tweaking. This is a good meal for the night after you've indulged in an enormous burger, maybe with bacon and cheese on it, and you're feeling a craving for vegetables:) (If you are not in a vegetable mode, stop before the egg is added (see below) and top with Bolognese sauce.)

The grits:

2 cups chicken broth, 1 cup water
1 cup cornmeal grits (polenta)
1 Tbsp butter
1 egg
1 cup grated cheese

Heat 2 cups of chicken broth and one cup water to boiling. Pour in one cup of yellow cornmeal grits, stirring so it doesn't get lumpy. Cook this on low heat until it's thick, stirring frequently. Take the grits off the heat, stir in one tablespoon butter (if desired) and half a cup of grated cheese of your choice. (I chose cheddar.) When the grits have cooled, beat in one egg.

Meanwhile, chop one smallish onion and saute until soft. Wash and chop one large bunch of greens (kale, chard, or spinach.) Add them to the frying onions and continue to cook until the greens are soft.

In a well-oiled 8 by 8 inch pan, layer half the grits, then the greens mixture, then the rest of the grits. Top with another half a cup of grated cheddar and grate several tablespoons of Parmesan over all.

Bake at 375 until bubbly and beginning to brown, about 25 min.

I served this with a Japanese-style cucumber salad, which made a small dent in our cuke harvest. This fabulous recipe is courtesy of Joan Emerson, who had tasted something like this at a restaurant.

She did the hard work of teasing out the best flavors.

Thinly slice two large cucumbers
Finely chop three scallions (I used 1/2 onion instead)

For the dressing, mix:

Two tablespoons soy sauce
One tablespoon sesame oil
One tablespoon sugar
Four tablespoons vinegar

Gently toss together with cukes and onion; let stand at least one hour before serving. Make more than you think you'll eat--it goes fast!

Lucy is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries, available wherever books are sold! You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.


  1. Thanks, Lucy/Roberta! I am on the hunt for nifty summer vegetable recipes - I appreciate the double header here today. Yummy and good for us.

    1. Thanks MJ! and I had the leftover polenta with spicy tomato sauce yesterday--delicious!

  2. Adorable pic of kids and guinea pigs! I grew up on polenta and this post brings back lovely memories of our family garden and the mess o' greens we enjoyed every summer. Nice cuke-onion salad, too. That combo is a great refresher.

    Thanks for the memories (and the recipe!)
    ~ Cleo

    1. You're welcome Cleo. I can always count on you to admire polenta...I love that picture with the kids and guinea pigs--it was such a different time of life:)

  3. I am loving the cucumber salad. I make something similar minus the sugar. And I'm always in the mood for grits.

    1. Thanks Sam, we had the cuke salad three days running. Now I'm going to have to make some bread and butter pickles...

  4. Lucy, what a great way to go vegetarian for a night. I don't like grits by themselves, but I love cheese grits! Now, I do love spoon bread, which is a Southern specialty my grandmother loved to serve. Slathered with butter. Hmmm. Might have to cook that tonight and add the cucumber salad. :)

    Daryl / Avery

  5. Both dishes sound great, Lucy. Looking forward to trying them soon.

  6. I was just training our cucumber plants to climb the fence. We don't have any yet, but it looks like we might have quite a harvest this year. I'm not a big fan of the standard sour cream and cucumber salad, so I love this recipe. Thanks for sharing it.

    No chard this year but this recipe sounds delicious. I can probably find some at the farmer's market.


  7. My husband and I love chard (and other yummy greens). We also love polenta and cheese.
    So, this is a three way winner.