Southwest Veggies and Pepperjack Grits

August 10, 2020 by Nicole Collins

It’s Meatless Monday!

This is a tradition that I don’t think we’ve celebrated together before, but I’m going to try to be better about doing it.

You guys cool with that?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about sustainable eating, so I figure going a few days without meat isn’t going to hurt us. And, it’ll help save the planet!

The catalyst for this new interest in sustainable living was the Netflix show Down to Earth with Zac Efron. Let me tell you…if we didn’t already think the folks behind Netflix were a bunch of geniuses, we should now by their choice to have Zac as the show’s host. Honestly, I never would’ve watched the show otherwise. I didn’t even really understand what it was about. But, I figured I could dedicate a few hours to a show if it meant I got to stare at Zac the whole time.

Well, joke was on me. Because, I actually really enjoyed the show! I still don’t understand everything that I learned, but I walked away inspired enough to start thinking about and researching little ways that I can do my part to keep this planet healthy.

I totally recommend giving it a watch!

In my internet searches, I saw a figure about how much energy and water it takes to produce one pound of beef (hundreds to thousands of gallons of water depending on the cut); then it led me to an article about how this figure is one of the many reasons we should participate in Meatless Monday. And, we also have to consider heart health, starting our week out on the healthy right foot, and animal preservation on top of the footprint we make.

So, here we are…Meatless Monday!

I still have so much to learn and understand. So while I continue educating myself, we’re going to go ahead and do what we can and what we know how to do.

EAT!

So today, we’re making Southwest Veggies with Pepperjack Grits!

First of all, let me start my saying that no meat doesn’t equal vegan. We are using egg and dairy here which makes this dish vegetarian. The point was more so to be meatless. But, you could EASILY make this vegan by using veggie stock instead of milk, ditching the eggs, and using a plant based cheese solution.

Now, let’s talk veggies. I didn’t think I could ever be truly full with just a veggie focused meal. But the more and more I experiment, the more and more I realize that’s not true at all. We have a little bit of everything happening here…mushrooms to give us that meaty vibe, poblano peppers to give us a teeny tiny kick of heat, onions because onions should always be invited to the party, radishes to add an interesting textural component (plus they taste COMPLETLEY different once they’ve been cooked than they do raw), and some fresh cherry tomatoes at the end to add a pop of acidity and brightness. All of our veggies get cooked in a southwestern style spice mix made up of chili powder, garlic and onion powder, paprika, and cumin. And the end result is a delicious mix of veg bursting at the seams with deep, warm flavors with a tiny splash of heat.

Once our delicious veggies are cooked, they get to hang out on a big old bed of cheesy grits. I never really made grits until this quarantine, but now I’m basically obsessed. I use the quick cooking grits, because they cook up in about 5 mins; so I can basically have a creamy and delicious masterpiece at all times in a matter of minutes. We’re going to cook these grits the same way we have recently. We’re going to let them simmer in some milk and water, then hit them with some butter and pepperjack cheese at the end. They’re creamy. They’re gooey. And, they have that perfect kick waiting for you thanks to the spicy peppers in the cheese.

To serve, it’s as simple as piling the veggies on top of the grits, adding a jammy egg to up the pizazz level a bit, and digging in. The gooey yolk of the jammy egg almost acts like a sauce component to our veggies and grits. And, who doesn’t love that! But, feel free to skip the egg. This meal is equally as delicious both ways.

Another fun fact that I learned from the Netflix show is that Sardinia, Italy has a high centenarian population. And, researchers that have studied the population looking for trends to determine what’s prolonging their lives have determined that the Sardinians have a low protein/high carb/eat fresh from the land diet. I’m choosing to interpret that info as saying that carbs make us live longer. So, we may take a break from meat here and there, but we’re still going to carb it up!

Ok everyone! Let me know what you think of the show (or what you thought of it if you already watched it).

Enjoy, and let’s eat!

Southwest Veggies and Pepperjack Grits

Serves: 4 Print

Ingredients:

For the Southwest Veggies:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, chopped

  • 2 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped

  • 1 red onion, sliced

  • 4 radishes, chopped

  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

  • ¾ tsp salt, divided

  • ½ tsp chili powder

  • ½ tsp cumin

  • ½ tsp garlic powder

  • ¼ tsp ground coriander

  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika

  • ¼ tsp pepper

For the Grits:

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 cups milk (I used 2%)

  • 1 cup quick cooking grits

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 1 cup pepperjack cheese, shredded

  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • 4 soft boiled eggs, halved or quartered

Directions:

  1. Make the Southwest Veggies: Heat olive oil in a large non stick skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, poblanos, red onion, radishes, ¼ tsp salt, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, coriander, paprika, and pepper to the skillet. Stir well to coat the veggies in the spices. Saute for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened and started to caramelize.

  2. Add tomatoes and ½ tsp salt to the vegetable mix. Stir to mix, and saute for another 2-3 mins until the tomatoes heat through and just start to soften. Remove from heat.

  3. Meanwhile, make the Grits: Bring water and milk to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Slowly add grits while whisking. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 5-7 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed, whisking every 1-2 minutes. Remove grits from heat. Add butter, cheese, and salt and pepper, to taste. Stir until cheese and butter are melted and fully combined. Taste for seasoning.

  4. To serve, spoon grits into 4 bowls, and top with veggies and 1 soft boiled egg per bowl. Serve immediately.

Recipe notes:

*Take note that there are different kinds of grits: stone ground, instant, quick cooking, etc. They all have different cook times. This recipe uses quick cooking.

*I recommend shredding the pepperjack yourself from a block of cheese. It melts much better than the pre-bagged stuff.

*To make a soft boiled/jammy egg, bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Allow eggs to sit out on the counter while water comes to a boil. Lower eggs into boiling water, and cook for 6 ½ – 7 mins. Remove from water, and immediately drop eggs into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. After 2-3 mins, remove eggs from ice water, peel, and halve or quarter the eggs, as desired.

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