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Smoked Cheddar Grits with Broiled Heirloom Tomatoes

Smoked Cheddar Grits with Broiled Heirloom Tomatoes Recipe

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.

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Smoked Cheddar Grits with Broiled Heirloom Tomatoes

Smoked Cheddar Grits with Broiled Heirloom Tomatoes Recipe

Creamy cheddar grits topped with broiled heirloom tomatoes.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 servings

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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88 Comments

  • Reply
    Kathryn
    August 19, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    I’ve never tried grits – that ocean between me and this cheesey goodness is seeming bigger every minute!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 20, 2013 at 8:52 pm

      Well, you can make polenta and pretend you’re eating grits!

  • Reply
    Ash-foodfashionparty
    August 19, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    I’ve never had grits before but from the looks of it, it looks darn delicious. Your cute little portioned ramekins are so fancy.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 20, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      The ramekins are probably my favorite prop–I would use them in every photo if I could. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    McKel Hill, MS, RD, LDN | Nutrition Stripped
    August 19, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    This is such a great classic southern recipe turned beautiful with heirloom tomatoes! Love this ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Honey What's Cooking
    August 19, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    oooh.. this looks so delicious. you are so creative and original. Love that!!!

  • Reply
    Andrea
    August 19, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 20, 2013 at 8:48 pm

      I’ve gotten several requests for biscuits and gravy since posting this, so I’m going to work on it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Wendy
    August 19, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 20, 2013 at 8:47 pm

      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. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Gretchen
    August 19, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    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!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 20, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply
    mjskit
    August 19, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    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! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 20, 2013 at 8:42 pm

      Well, it just so happens that I made grits with roasted poblano peppers this weekend! ๐Ÿ˜€ And they were delicious!

  • Reply
    Sommer @ ASpicyPerspective
    August 20, 2013 at 8:40 am

    Glad you liked grits! This is a stunningly beautiful recipe! Can’t wait to make this! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Kim @ What's That Smell?
    August 20, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    I’ve never had grits. I wonder if they are gluten-free. That being said, I cannot hear the word grits and think of the movie “My Cousin Vinnie”.

    This recipe looks amazing!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 20, 2013 at 8:38 pm

      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. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Courtney @ The Fig Tree
    August 20, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    I’ve never had grits before, but also love polenta. I’ll have to give this a try. Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to trying something new.

  • Reply
    trisha
    August 21, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    But you left out the GREEN tomato!!

    trisha

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 22, 2013 at 5:13 pm

      Yeah, that is one thing that I probably won’t be trying anytime soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Erika
    August 22, 2013 at 8:51 am

    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!!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 22, 2013 at 5:10 pm

      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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We went there last year in the midst of a heatwave (it was about 110ยบ out the whole time we were there) and I really want to go back someday so we can enjoy it without getting heat stroke.

  • Reply
    Dina
    August 22, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    those are adorable. great idea!

  • Reply
    Hannah
    August 22, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      Isn’t that sad?! I grew up just outside of Chicago and I think we went to the city once a year, if that.

  • Reply
    Hannah
    August 22, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    As an aside, I now live in Ohio and we have a fantastic restaurant that does vegetarian biscuits and gravy. Heaven.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      I need to find one of those around here! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Daniela @ FoodrecipesHQ
    August 23, 2013 at 4:55 am

    A dish bursting with taste and… smoked cheddar. Yes, please!

  • Reply
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com
    August 23, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Oh so summery!! I need to try grits ASAP!

  • Reply
    Shelly (Cookies and Cups)
    August 25, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Haven’t had grits in a long time, gonna have to try these!

  • Reply
    leslie
    August 25, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 26, 2013 at 8:10 pm

      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!)

  • Reply
    Melanie @ Just Some Salt and Pepper
    August 26, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Yum, I love, love, love cheddar grits.

  • Reply
    Toni
    August 27, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    This recipe looks SO GOOD. I bet my husband would love this and you had me at cheddar grits.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 28, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      My husband loves this recipe too. I make it with roasted poblanos sometimes and I think that’s his favorite!

  • Reply
    Lisa @ Greek Vegetarian
    August 28, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Hello from Greece! Oh if only you could try the fresh tomatoes here โ€“ I’m sure you’d convert instantly! This dish looks great Kiersten โ€“ might give this a try in the next few days for the family here ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 28, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      I hope you’re having a fabulous time! Perhaps I should visit Greece for some of these tomatoes? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Christie
    August 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    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!!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 30, 2013 at 7:06 pm

      Thank you! And I don’t eat shrimp, but I know I’ve seen that combo on menus here. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Susan
    September 1, 2013 at 11:10 am

    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.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      September 2, 2013 at 8:52 pm

      Thanks for the suggestions!

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