Goat Cheese Grits with Caramelized Onions, Shiitake Mushrooms, Kale, Cherry Tomatoes, and Balsamic

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Polenta (or Grits) with Goat Cheese, Caremelized Onions, Kale, Shiitake Mushrooms, and Cherry Tomatoes, with Balsamic

So I spent the better part of last week at a conference in Memphis.  Insert exhaustion here.  I ate somewhere fabulous, and I’ll post later in the week about that.  Mondays, though, I try to post a recipe or meal idea (because let’s face it, I’m not a chef, just a hungry girl), so I thought I would share what I made for dinner last night.  The aforementioned conference had left me feeling drained, and while I had big ambitions of making something more intricate, I decided to stick with something relatively simple.  Something warm and warming, but nutritious.  So I made goat cheese grits, or polenta, if you will, topped with caramelized onions, shitake mushrooms, kale, and cherry tomatoes.  I topped it all with a balsamic drizzle. It was delicious, and it only took about 30 minutes to make, and bear in mind, much of that was spent refilling my wine glass ;).

I just wanted to take a minute and talk about the difference, or lack thereof, between grits and polenta.  Many people have told me they hate grits, only to tell me they adore polenta.  Really, the difference between the two is minimal.  You can have bad grits and bad polenta.  I have turned many people around on grits by making them creamy grits and calling it polenta.  My secret is no secret – just add cream and cheese.  But I don’t go overboard with it, a little goes a long way.

Ingredients:

1 Cup of Grits or Polenta, Prepare According to Package Directions
1 Medium Onion, sliced into strips
1 Cup of Shiitake Mushrooms, Sliced
1 Cup of Cherry Tomatoes, Halved

½ Cup of Goat Cheese

1-2 Tablespoons of Cream or Half and Half

Salt and Pepper to Taste

For the toppings, I first caramelized the onions and set them aside.  Then I sautéed the shitake mushrooms until soft, and added those to the waiting onions.  Then I sautéed the kale, and at the end I added about a cup of cherry tomatoes.  I did add my balsamic at this point, and the result was a slightly smoky, tangy flavor I couldn’t get enough of.  Seriously, we ate it all, and with no regrets.  Technically that portion should serve four, but hey, we were hungry, so please don’t judge 😉

Make grits, or polenta, according to package directions.  I prefer Bob’s Red Mill Corn Grits/Polenta these days, at least when I can’t get a fresh grind locally, but you can use any.  White or yellow, doesn’t really matter.  When grits are just made, stir in a bit of cream or half and half a tablespoon at a time until you see the consistency/creaminess level you like.  Then add cheese, and stir through until it melts.  Top with your sautéed ingredients, and drizzle with balsamic.  Or, if you prefer, add balsamic just at the end of the saute like I did.

Jasper Milking our Travel Guilt for all it's worth.
Jasper Milking our Travel Guilt for all it’s worth.

The result is a tasty hot meal, that leaves you plenty of time for the rest of your evening.  We spent hours planning our trip to Paris next week and cuddling our animals, who missed us, it seems.  See Jasper here to the right, soaking up some love. The ingredients can be changed according to your heart’s desire, or, as in my case usually, whatever I have on hand and need to use up.  What toppings will you try?

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