I used to be perfectly happy with a regular old bowl of Plain Jane grits, the kind made with nothing but water, instant grits, salt and butter. In my studio apartment days, I thought dinner couldn't get any better than that. It was then, after all, that Ramen noodles were my only other choice.
Then I discovered Creamy Dreamy Cheddar Grits, and I've never looked back. Recently though, in the June issue of Cooking Light magazine, I found a heavenly-sounding recipe for Grits Casserole with Pesto Butter. I finally found a chance to make it tonight and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was. I served it with whole wheat waffles with maple syrup and have vowed to find myself a waffle iron so that I no longer have to eat frozen waffles.
- 4 cups milk
- 1 cup vegetable broth (the original recipe called for chicken broth, and to that I say "bah")
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cups uncooked quick-cooking grits
- 1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 4 egg whites
- dash of cream of tartar
- Combine milk, broth and salt in a large saucepan; bring to a boil.
- Gradually add grits, stirring constantly.
- Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat; add cheese & pepper, stirring until cheese melts. Cool slightly.
- Beat eggs with a mixer at high speed until foamy.
- Add cream of tartar to eggs; beat until stiff peaks form (translation: until thick like whipped cream).
- Gently stir 1/4 of egg white mixture into grits.
- Gently fold in remaining egg white mixture.
- Spoon into a 2-quart souffle dish coated with cooking spray.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, until casserole has risen and begins to brown.
- Serve warm with pesto butter.
- 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
- 2 Tbs grated fresh parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbs vegetable broth (or chicken broth, if you're a freak)
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 2 Tbs butter, softened
- Place first 5 ingredients in a food processor; process until finely chopped. (I used my mini-Cuisinart for this - regular sized food processors can be difficult to use when processing such small quantities).
- Scrape down sides; add butter. Process until well-combined.
The Carnivore and I both enjoyed stirring in small teaspoons full of the pesto into our grits, but I found the recipe for pesto to yield far more than I would actually use with the grits. After all, you don't want the pesto to overwhelm the flavor of the grits altogether. I intend though to use the excess pesto butter to make garlic bread with tomorrow.
The Carnivore snickered when he came into the kitchen to help me pour the grits into the souffle dish. "Grits souffle?" he asked, "Boy, we're living high on the hog now, aren't we?"