This cauliflower grits was a result of necessity…. I had a cauliflower in the fridge that really needed to be used. And while I was making our brunch, on a Sunday morning, coming back from Hollywood Farmers market with fresh eggs, chanterelle, and pea shots, the idea came. When we cook cauliflower and blend it, it comes up with an amazing silky, creamy texture. And what is it that we do with grits? We cream it. With butter, cream, mascarpone, or anything else. Just cream it, right?
So while the grits were cooking in simple vegetable stock, I quickly added the cauliflower in a small pot of milk and water, added aromatics, a small onion and a bay leaf. Once that cooked, and the grits was ready, blended the cauliflower in just enough cooking liquid to be able to process and added to the grits. Also remember grits require 1:4 ratio of polenta to liquid. You can reduce it a little bit here, because the cauliflower cream will losen it up. You can play with the texture when mixing everything all together, to your liking.
I am not really keen on standing at the stove and keeping an eye on grits for a long time. So this is a trick I came up with, and it did help me to reduce cooking time. I buy the coarse grits in bulk and blend them superfine in my blender. Do this only when you are not bothered about losing the grits texture, but you want lets’s say a quick brunch option. This fine polenta will cook much quicker.
For dairy free and vegan version:
My original recipe requires milk and I also added eggs to make it a full meal. If you are dairy free or vegan, leave out the eggs and cook the cauliflowers in stock with all the aromatics mentioned below. Once cauliflower is cooked, transfer into blender and blend it with home made, thick cashew milk/cream. When I made a vegan version I served it with radish sprouts and quick pickled radishes.
Ingredients for non vegan version (serves 4)
- 1/2 cup grits, or the finely processed cornmeal
- 3-4 cup vegetable stock or water
- 1/2 small cauliflower torn into florets (the orange one will give a beautiful color to your grits! go for it if you have them)
- 1 cup whole milk and some water (enough to just cover the florets in the pot)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small onion
- salt and 3-4 black peppercorns
- 2 cups small chanterelle or any other wild, strong mushroom (see below other dishes)
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley and chive
- 4 eggs
- olive oil for frying eggs
- pea shoots or other greens to serve the dish with (it will require something fresh, crunchy with a touch of acid)
- lemon juice and olive oil for the greens
- Add milk, water, bay leaf, peppercorn, salt, onion and cauliflower florets in a small pot. Bring to a boil and cook it covered on low heat until florets are cooked. Don’t overcook, all the cauliflower flavor and bits will disintegrate into your liquid…. and we are not using all the cooking liquid.
- Discard onion, bay leaf and peppercorns when cauliflower is cooked.
- Transfer into blender and blend into creamy texture with just as much cooking liquid as necessary to process the blending!
- In the meantime toast grits on olive oil for a minute, while whisking add vegetable stock. Cook it under constant supervision, stirring frequently. Add just as much liquid so you end up with a thick, firmer grit texture, so the cauliflower can loosen it up.
- You can also pay with ratios of grits to cauliflower, depending on how much flavor of the veggie you would like in there.
- To finish the dish pan roast mushrooms on butter and olive oil mixture with adding a couple of thyme sprigs. When cooked, discard thyme, and add mix of parsley, chive and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Keep it warm.
- Fry eggs on olive oil. Heat olive oil and before it is too high, add eggs, turn down heat and fry slow to keep a nice look.
- Put the greens in a bowl and drizzle with a squeeze of lemon juice and some olive oil.
In a shallow deep bowl and cauliflower grits, making a dip in the middle for the egg. Put mushrooms and shoots or other greens around the egg, on top of the grits. ENJOY!
And if you like the flavor profiles, you can make other, bit fancier dishes based on the same concept. This is a pot de creme of cauliflower grits with pan roasted mixed wild mushroom with garlic and thyme, parmesan crisps and some spicy nasturtium oil and leaves.