Vegan grits collard greens & blackened corn. Southern charm.
Hey y’all! Happy Monday, how was your weekend? I hope it was as awesome as mine was. Guess who I got to see perform on Saturday night? BLAKE SHELTON, and, The Band Perry – at Wrigley Field no less!!!! It was so incredibly freaking fun. Blake is amazing, so charming, so adorable….uh, yeah, you could say that I’m kind of crushing on him. Sometimes the adolescent girl that lurks below the surface makes a comeback every once in a while. What can I say? However, I do promise that you won’t see a giant poster of that blue eyed cutie hanging on my bedroom wall. The hubby would definitely put his foot down. Hmm (shoulder shrug), oh well. JK honey, you’re the only one I have a crush on.
Who knew that there were so many country fans – who look the part – in Chicago! I’m telling you, I felt like I was in the South. Men were wearing flannel shirts with the arms cut off, baseball caps, and jeans. Women were wearing shorts and sundresses with cowboy boots. NOT your typical Chi-town crowd. I loved it!!
All of that country put me in a nostalgic mood. It brought me back to my childhood summers. My mom is from Virginia and every summer we traveled to the Old Dominion (nickname for VA) to visit my grandma – a.k.a. “Big Momma” – and other relatives. Then we drove further south to South Carolina and spent a week on the coast. Those drives were fun! My dad put a small mattress in the back of our red station wagon and we had a cooler full of food and drinks, games, books, and plenty of room to sleep comfortably. Yes, those were the days before seat belts were mandatory and people wore helmets while riding bikes.
Driving through the small towns in the South always meant stopping for incredible food. Back then I looked forward to fried chicken and pulled pork – what was I thinking?! I also adored grits, blackened corn, collard greens, hush puppies, and fried green tomatoes. Ooohhhh Yeaaaahhh!!!! I’m about to get my Southern on folks.
Since I’m still on the Blake Shelton concert high (the natural kind), and I’m craving some grits and collard greens, and…. It’s Kick Start Monday, it only makes sense that I put together a Southern recipe that’s vegan, healthy, delicious, and quenches my deep desire to buy a big red station wagon, pack up the family, and head to the Carolinas.
Just like this one!
Have you ever had collard greens? They are kind of a cross between cabbage and spinach, in my opinion anyway. They are tough like a cabbage leaf but they kind of taste like spinach. When they’re cooked they retain a nice crisp texture. They are subtle in flavor so they go with just about anything, especially blackened corn and grits. Mmmm….mmmm.
It’s sunny and 85° outside, kind of feels like a Southern day. My stereo is blasting Blake, of course! And, my kitchen smells like Big Mama’s used to smell, all peppery, savory, and mouthwatering good. I wish you could see the big smile on my face. It’s kind of like the one on my face on Saturday night. Like the one below of me and my real crush. Sorry about the blur. See Blake in the background?
Let’s get cookin’ good lookin’.
The first thing that hits my big heavy iron skillet are the onions. Once they’re a little translucent it’s time to add the heat, which means the jalapenos go in. Make sure you remove the seeds if you’re not a big fan of fire in your mouth. Then the garlic and the black beans get a turn to comingle with the onions and peppers. Finally, the greens get to dance around in the skillet, just until they begin to wilt. Once that happens everything gets to sit in a bowl while the corn sizzles.
Here’s a picture tutorial that I put together to show you how to seed a jalapeno pepper. Note: don’t touch your eyes if you touch the seeds. Big ouch!
When it’s time to blacken the corn just remember that the skillet needs to be hot, the corn needs to be spread out evenly, and you have to have the patience to leave it sit for a little while so it will brown. It shouldn’t actually look black, it should be a pretty brown. Once the corn is “blackened” you can add the collard green mixture back to the pan and warm it up while you make the grits.
Grits are easy to make. To make them creamier add one cup of almond milk and three cups of water to one cup of grits. The Southern wannabe girl in me likes to add some sugar to the water to give it a little sweetness. That’s what my mom and my grandma did and it makes a difference.
Once the grits are done put them in a bowl and layer the collard greens’ mixture on top. I sliced a few tomatoes to garnish and add a bit of freshness. To finish it I drizzled some Annie’s vegan BBQ sauce on top.
One bite and I felt like I was transported back to some of the best times of my life. It’s incredible how food can make such and impact on our memories and our lives.
Make this tonight, crank up some country music, mix up a pitcher of iced tea, and pretend you’re somewhere on the coast of the Atlantic ocean, or on a big freshwater lake in the Appalachian mountains. That’s what I’m doing!
Happy Kick Start Monday y’all!!!