You know that smokey tempeh we made on Tuesday? Today we're going to class it up a bit. Here's how this recipe came about:
1) I had this big beautiful heirloom tomato sitting on my counter for a few days last week before I figured out what I wanted to do with it. After spending almost 4 dollars on one piece of vegetable-like fruit, I just did not feel comfortable hiding it between slices of bread. No, I'm gonna let it shine.
2) I managed to bring home some serious grits. When I was living in Shreveport and read through every book on Southern cooking that I could find in the excellent local library, I kept coming across a chefy insistence on Anson Mills stone-ground grits. I discovered that I could order them straight from the mill in South Carolina, or drive 6 hours to the Whole Foods in New Orleans, or ironically, purchase them with ease in Los Angeles from Surfas. So finally, now that I am back in Southern California I have some honest to god grits.
(I love Surfas. Chances are, if you've looked everywhere for some obscure ingredient or tool, and just can't find it, Surfas has got you covered. Plus, it's just so much fun to wander the aisles and play restaurant, picking out your industrial mixer and wiener warmer. Also, they sell bakery boxes individually which can't help but make a hastily decorated cake or sloppy pie crust look professional.)
3) When I was reading all of those cookbooks and Louisiana Cookin' magazine, one of the most frequent recipes that I came across was for shrimp and grits. As I unpacked my Surfas bag and set my new carton of grits on the counter next to that pound of succulent deep coral tomato flesh, I knew what we were having for dinner.
Which was really unfortunate, because I had forgot how flippin' long it takes for flippin' stone-ground grits to flippin' cook. 2 hours. With a lot of stirring. So after we made the boy a bowl of cereal I set to cooking, and the Paul and I ate dinner all cosmopolitan grown-up style at 9 PM and went to bed on incredibly unfashionable full stomachs shortly thereafter.
I have to say, the stone ground grits were absolutely worth it, but assuming you have the normal kind that you buy in the grocery store or that you have pre-soaked your grits like the lovely Anson Mills website advises, well then this is one easy meal with a luxurious pay-off. The smoky tempeh and creamy grits studded with little explosions of sweet corn just play so nicely with a perfect late summer tomato. We all loved this meal.
1 cup dry grits, cooked according to package instructions
1 ear corn
Prepare grits according to package or website directions. Near the end of cooking, stir in the kernals of one ear of corn. Scrape the cob with the back of a knife to get every last bit of luscious milk into the pot. If you've never done this you'll be surprised at how much corny goodness you've been missin'.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic, chile flakes, and white part of the green onion. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until softened and fragrant. Add tomatoes, onion tops, and fresh thyme and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until tomatoes have given up some of their liquid, but still have some structural integrity. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
To serve: spoon grits into shallow bowls. Top with crumbled tempeh and a scoop of tomatoes. A sprig of fresh thyme would really make a nice garnish.