Recipe | Smoked Cheddar Grits with Broiled Heirloom Tomatoes

Smoked Cheddar Grits with Broiled Heirloom Tomatoes
We’ve lived in North Carolina for a little over two years now and we still haven’t had the chance to explore very much. One of the reasons we were so excited about moving here is that there seemed to be so much more to do in the area–well, at least compared to Wisconsin. (No offense, Wisconsin.) We had plans to drive to the mountains or coast once a month, to do weekend trips to Virginia and Washington DC. And in two years, we’ve hardly done any of that. Kind of sad, right?

It seems like there’s always something getting in the way of this stuff–working longer hours than we should, spending weekends running errands or doing things around the house, that kind of thing. And then before you know it, you’ve lived someplace for two years and you haven’t even seen it. So I’m making it my goal for the rest of the year to see more North Carolina sights, do more North Carolina things, and eat more North Carolina food.

Coarse Yellow Grits
Like grits! I first tried them last month–I ordered a veggie burger and the options for sides were fries, a baked potato, or cheddar grits, and on impulse, I replied “Grits!” when the server asked which I wanted. And then as soon as he walked away, I thought, “Oh crap, why did I just order grits? Who eats grits with a burger?!” But I ended up loving them, which shouldn’t have been a surprise since I love polenta too, which is kind of similar. Hooray for corn-based porridge!

Smoked Cheddar Grits with Broiled Heirloom Tomatoes
I used a local brand of yellow grits (Julia’s Pantry Organic Yellow Grits) in this recipe, although traditionally grits are usually white. You can use quick cooking grits too if you prefer–just follow the directions on the package, since they’ll have a much shorter cooking time. After the grits were finished cooking, I whisked in some smoked cheddar cheese, divided them into large ramekins, and topped each one with a slice of heirloom tomato that I had bought at the farmers market that morning. I’m not a fan of raw tomatoes, so I put the ramekins under the broiler until the tomatoes were soft and just beginning to blister.

I don’t think I’m going to be trying North Carolina barbecue anytime soon and if I do the whole biscuits-and-gravy thing, I’m going to have to figure out how to pull off a vegetarian version, but grits will definitely be a staple in our pantry from now on.

Smoked Cheddar Grits with Broiled Heirloom Tomatoes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 4 servings

Smoked Cheddar Grits with Broiled Heirloom Tomatoes

Creamy cheddar grits topped with broiled heirloom tomatoes.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups reduced-fat milk
  • 1 cup grits
  • 2/3 cup shredded smoked cheddar cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 slices heirloom tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Bring the water and milk to a boil in a large saucepan. Whisk in the grits, cover, and reduce heat to low. Stir often and cook until thick and creamy, 30-45 minutes.
  2. Preheat broiler. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in the cheese, garlic, and butter, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the grits into four large ramekins that have been sprayed with oil or cooking spray. (If you don't have large ramekins or mini cocottes, about 6 small ramekins will work.) Top each ramekin with a slice of tomato, lightly spray the tomato with oil, then sprinkle a little additional salt and pepper on top. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and broil for 5-10 minutes, or until the tomato is softened and starting to blister.
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Kiersten Frase

About Kiersten

Kiersten is the founder and head writer of Oh My Veggies. She lives just outside of Raleigh with her husband and their 4 wonky-eyed rescue cats.   Read more from Kiersten →

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Comments

  1. Andrea says

    This looks amazing! If I may throw in a request, I would also love it if you did feel like trying out a veggie version of biscuits and gravy like you mentioned! It’s my favorite breakfast but Not eating meat really interferes with that. I’ve tried making a veggie version if it myself but was only mildly successful.

  2. says

    I live in the midwest where grits are not a menu staple, but my extended family lives in SC where grits are a way of life! Grits never looked more delicious than these photos!! The recipe sounds great.

    • Kiersten Frase says

      I grew up in the midwest and remember visiting family in the south when I was a kid and being weirded out by the whole grits thing when we’d go out to breakfast. :)

  3. says

    Gotta admit it, I’ve never tried grits either, but I totally want to make these! This looks SO yummy! And with the tomatoes. Mmmmm!
    But … let’s talk about the adorable little crocks and measuring cup! LOVE them!! SOOO cute!! :)

    • Kiersten Frase says

      I bought the crocks when I was in Charleston. They’re supposedly a special color made to be sold exclusively in Charleston–so naturally, I had to buy them. ;)

  4. says

    Hooray!!! So glad that you tried grits and loved them! I can’t live without them. I have to admit that I’ve never put a slice of tomato on top, but that’s going to change very soon. It looks delicious and just know that it is! Now you need to try some grits and green chile – my favorite! :)

    • Kiersten Frase says

      They are gluten-free! And I think My Cousin Vinnie is one of those movies that I’ve seen bits and pieces of, but never the whole thing, so I think I missed that part. :)

  5. says

    WHAT you live in north carolina?? Guess where I JUST landed last night?! Well, charleston–but we’ll be in Raleigh on sat. Small world! These look super gorgeous! I remember the first time I had grits when I came to Texas…so creamy and cheesy–i was like WHAT IS THIS FOOD? I love the idea of topping it with a heirloom tomato slice–seems very local Southern ish. I definitely want to try this!!

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Ahh, Charleston is an amazing city! Honestly, there’s not a ton to do in Raleigh, so it might be a little bit of a letdown after Charleston. ;) We went there last year in the midst of a heatwave (it was about 110º out the whole time we were there) and I really want to go back someday so we can enjoy it without getting heat stroke.

  6. says

    I lived in NC (moved as a teen) for about 4 years before we went anywhere….I mean I lived exactly 1/2 between the mountains and the ocean in the lovely Piedmont area and didn’t make a trip to either until friends were visiting from Minnesota….so very very sad.

    I love grits – all kinds and all ways but most especially with cheese.

  7. leslie says

    You absolutely NEED to try the cheddar, smoked cheddar and gouda from The Cultured Cow Creamery in Durham, NC. (Red Heifer Cheeses) FABULOUS stuff!! The only thing I could imagine making your recipe better is to use their cheeses! No- I don’t work there- I just LOVE their cheese! They take such good care of their animals – they’ve won awards for their humane standards and happy cows give happy milk which makes fabulous cheese. Produce Box carries them and the N. Raleigh Whole Foods does too. Hope you can find them!

    • Kiersten Frase says

      Thank you for the recommendation–I will definitely check them out! (And actually, if they sell their products at the North Raleigh WF, I probably already have!)

  8. says

    Hello from Greece! Oh if only you could try the fresh tomatoes here – I’m sure you’d convert instantly! This dish looks great Kiersten – might give this a try in the next few days for the family here :)

  9. Christie says

    Welcome to NC! As a native, it is always surprising that people have never heard of, much less tried grits. This looks really tasty! I make cheese grits several times a year and I will definitely give this a try. Your next culinary adventure should be shrimp and grits! Delicious!!

  10. Susan says

    Also great for breakfast–top with a poached or over easy egg.
    Put your leftovers in a loaf pan–chill, then slice and saute as a side with dinner.
    Top with a turkey or veg chili
    Top with a curry (instead of rice)
    I’ve never figured out the difference between grits & polenta except for the name. So call ‘em country-style polenta.

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