Greens & Grits

An addictive melding of slightly bitter spinach and other leafy greens and creamy stone-ground grits. The recipe is entirely plant-based, perfect for Meatless Mondays or a vegan quick supper. Better still? It's 100% real food, no processed food, what I call Vegan Done Real. Oprah, please, you can do vegan without processed foods too!

Real Food, Fresh & Flexible. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free. High Protein. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real.
Greens & Grits, another vegan Quick Supper ♥, just quick-cooked grits with a skillet of spinach or other leafy greens plus mushrooms, tomato and a touch of chipotle in adobo sauce. High Protein. Gluten Free. Weight Watchers Friendly.


The Best That Oprah Can Do? Really? REALLY???

O Magazine cover

The “Big O” has mathematical and theatrical references (what, you were thinkin’ somethin’ else?) but today I want to talk about a famous Big O, Oprah, and her Big Opportunity and how she missed it.

Oprah and her staff have this vegan thing going, choosing to eat vegan – no meat, no dairy, no eggs, no fish, only plant-based foods – for a week. It was billed as a good way to promote healthy eating habits and Oprah challenged her fans to try eating vegan too.

I happened to catch the February 1 show on a snow day and felt not challenged but horrified as vegan products paraded across the screen – not a single vegetable in sight, only faux replacement "meats" and "cheeses" and one highly processed food after another.

And Oprah’s vegan shopping list? Awful. I’d link to it but thankfully, the list is no longer live.

Still, think vegan hot dogs and toaster waffles. Now that’s gross. I’d bet a head of broccoli that the list was actually paid advertising.

Vegetables and fruits made up – get this – a measly seven percent of that grocery list. Instead of showing Oprah fans how to cook delicious vegan recipes, she showed them how to warm up Tofurky Italian Sausages and snack on kettle corn.

This, people, is not healthy eating.

Regular readers know that Kitchen Parade is neither vegetarian nor vegan – yet my vegetarian and vegan recipes are some of the most popular recipes here. They start with vegetables and are filled out with other healthy whole ingredients like grains and beans. These recipes use real food, unprocessed food.

So yes, Oprah, your Big Opportunity earns one Big Fat Sorry F.

Introducing Vegan Done Real.

Me, I'm taking a stand. Yep, I'm standing up to the mighty (and much admired) Oprah.

To counteract Oprah, I reached out to my fellow food bloggers to collect 52 of our favorite vegan recipes – all whole food, all real food – that's one to try for every week in the year.

We call it Vegan Done Real: 52 Favorite Vegan Recipes from Ten Whole-Food Food Bloggers.

Greens & Grits: An Example of Vegan Done Real

STARTING WITH GRITS My friend Lisa from My Own Sweet Thyme is laugh-laugh-laughing that I’m writing about grits since for many years I withstood all her good-hearted attempts to reverse a rare food aversion to the little bits of dried corn. She even used the usually reliable “add-a-pile-of-butter-and-cheese” trick (aka Cheese Grits) but nothing broke through. It took a polenta, a culinary cousin and a much prettier word, yes? to knock sense into my palate.

BUT NOT ENDING WITH GRITS That said, my Greens & Grits has also been Greens & Polenta (using the recipe for Garlicky Polenta included with Seared Scallops with Garlicky Polenta), even Greens & Porridge (using Creamy Oatmeal). There’s just something special about the slightly bitter greens atop the warm, creamy cereal that’s addictive!

What's In Greens & Grits: Just That.

Like so many of my weeknight-easy main dishes, the ingredients are simple. You just might already have them on hand. Let's take a look ...

  • Grits (upper left) At least for me, grits were an acquired, umm, not taste but texture and that's from somebody that doesn't really have food-texture issues. But all of a sudden, grits tasted (and felt) amazing! They're one of my favorite "undies" (that's what I've taken to calling sides dishes that often go "under" the main dish) and completely perfect meal prep. Yep, make grits ahead of time or better still, just make extra to have on hand for a few days to use with other dishes.
  • Chipotle in Adobo Sauce (upper right) The "secret sauce" for Greens & Grits. Chipotle in Adobo comes in small cans, inside you'll find whole chipotles (which are the smoked version of jalapeños) in a very spicy brown sauce. This stuff is potent, you only use a bit at a time. Some recipes have you scoop out a teaspoon of the flavorful brown sauce, by passing the spicier chipotles. Me, I combine the can's entire contents to form a flavorful, slightly less spicy sauce that keeps for months in a small container in the refrigerator.
  • Greens (lower left) The greens, use any greens you like but I'm partial here, to the sturdy spinach that's always in my fridge though often supplemented with other greens, collard, turnip greens, mustard greens and so on. I've use frozen spinach here but really, fresh greens are worth the extra effort of cleaning. One tip? No baby spinach or baby greens, they're too tender and will just melt into mush with heat.
  • Voila! (lower right) The final dish is this amazing combination of creaminess below, slightly bitter greens cooked with a pile of mushrooms and some tomato. Oh-so-good!

What Makes This Recipe Special

  • quick to the table, under 30 minutes, the grits and greens both
  • made with easy pantry ingredients
  • so much flavor, so good for you
  • Ready to get started? Here's your recipe!

Greens & Grits ♥, spinach cooked with tomato and mushrooms, with a smidgin of heat from adobo, all atop quick-cooked grits.


Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes
Serves 4
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup finely ground grits (see TIPS)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, washed, trimmed and cut into fat slices or quarters
  • 1 pound fresh spinach or another leafy green, washed well, heavy stems removed, cut into ribbons
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or sorghum syrup, optional but counters bitterness
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon "adobo sauce" from a can of chipotle in adobo sauce or a few drops of hot sauce
  • Salt to taste (but don’t skimp)
  • 4 teaspoons good olive oil

GRITS In a medium saucepan, bring the water, salt and garlic to a boil on medium high heat. Slowly add the grits to the liquid, whisking the entire time to avoid lumps. Once the grits are all in, reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer and cook until done, about 15 minutes, stirring often to avoid sticking and burning. If the grits are done before the greens, reduce the heat to low and keep warm. This makes 3 cups cooked grits.

GREENS In a heavy skillet, heat the oil until shimmery, add the onion and stir to coat with fat. Stir in the mushrooms as they’re prepped, cook until the onions and mushrooms are cooked through but not soft. Stir in the spinach (probably in batches, it's bulky but will cook down), tomatoes and adobo sauce and cook, stirring often, until the spinach is hot and fully cooked, about 15 minutes. Add salt to taste.

TO SERVE Pool the grits in an individual serving bowl, top with the hot spinach mixture. Drizzle a teaspoon of oil around the edges of the grits, serve and savor!

ALANNA's TIPS Look for stone-ground grits in the grocery store in the Bob’s Red Mill section. They produce corn grits, watch for packages labeled "grits" or "cornmeal" or "polenta"). I also have great luck ordering both freshly ground cornmeal and grits directly from the mills, both War Eagle Mill in Arkansas and Anson Mills in North Carolina. For a quick-cook recipe like this, be sure to select something with a fine grind, not a coarse grind. Many grocery stores carry Quaker grits, just be sure to buy the "quick" grits, not the instant grits. If ever there were a "concept recipe" this is it. I’ve made this four times and each plateful has been different and delicious. Use fresh greens like kale or Swiss chard, just be sure to wash the greens very well to remove the grit – not the grits, the grit! Add other vegetables like fennel or celery or eggplant. FYI when I first published this recipe in 2011, I had great luck with frozen spinach, it was especially convenient because there was no need to thaw the spinach beforehand. But in the recent while, frozen spinach just hasn't worked for me. But fresh greens? Eat-the-pot amazing! For vegetarians who eat dairy, stir a tablespoon or so of yogurt, sour cream or Parmesan cheese into either the grits or the greens. For omnivores who eat meat, start with bacon grease rather than olive oil. All three? Delicious! The "adobo sauce" here is so important to flavor and gentle heat. It comes in a small can and you only use a teaspoon or two at a time. Good news, it keeps! Just run the contents of the entire can through a mini food processor and store in the refrigerator for months and months. Before washing the food processor, also make a batch of chipotle-spiked My Everyday Creamy Herb Salad Dressing, so good!
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving: 356 Calories; 9g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 514mg Sodium; 58g Carb; 8g Fiber; 5g Sugar; 11g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 6 & PointsPlus 9 & SmartPoints 11 & Freestyle 8 & myWW green 8 & blue 8 & purple 8 Want to reduce the calories? Just omit the last teaspoons of drizzled olive oil!
My recipe was inspired by the Chipotle Winter Greens with Buttermilk Grits from the Atlanta food blog Running with Tweezers. I saw her beautiful plate of greens atop creamy grits and couldn’t wait to make it!

More "Vegan Done Real" Recipes

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Celebration Salad Marinated Tofu Stir-Fry Simple Lentil Salad with Seasonal Vegetables
~ more vegan recipes ~

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ grits recipes ~
~ mushroom recipes ~
~ spinach recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2011 & 2020

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Ugh! What was Oprah thinking? I do a Wheat Free Wednesday post and do not include soy based faux foods. I wonder if, years down the line, processed soy sludge is going to be pointed at as a cause of some disease?

    you just inspired my lunch; I have cornmeal and mushrooms,!

    : )

  2. Maxine3/01/2011

    Hi Alanna, I absolutely can not WAIT to try your greens and grits recipe! It looks fabulous!

  3. Ha! Yes, I was laughing well before I got to my name. :-) But then what would become of us if we weren't allowed to grow and change?!
    My favorite grits are from Bob's Red Mill. I love to eat them drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with lots of freshly ground black pepper and parmesan cheese.
    Then again, I have to say this recipe looks wonderful! Mushrooms and spinach, kale or others greens make a near perfect pairing with grits.

  4. Anonymous3/02/2011

    I hadn't heard about the Oprah vegan show until I read your post. That is really sad. She has so much power!

  5. Just because Miz O says something, doesn't necessarily make it good or right even. Take Eddie Murphy's movie that she hyped and hyped and urged America to go see as the funiest film in years. With all her weight problems over the years, couldn't she see the slams against heavy people in that movie? Husband, daughter son and I rented the movie after one Thanksgiving dinner, and sat there in stunned silence and with extreme uncomfortable-ness.
    She is not God, people, she has foibles too, and sometimes she can't see the error or even a plain mistake in her ways. She is human just like the rest of us, and I think, unfortunately for us, that she believes her own hype.
    After that particular movie hype, I no longer watched the program and don't listen to her 'favs' any longer. She is just as skewed and flawed like the rest of us mere mortals. Entiltled to her opinions, yes, but that doesn't make them a 'right' opinion for everyone.

  6. I hunger for greens, and never cosidered spinach one, isn't that interesting. I currently have two cans of Glory Foods Brand of Seasoned Southern Style Collard Greens on my canned goods shelves. Just sitting there waiting for my intense 'greens' cravings. I will just take the recipe and make the grits, YUM!, and combine two. We used to have two Cracker Barrel restaraunts in the Minneapolis area, and are sadly down to just the one I believe. That's where I head, over a two and a half hour drive, when I need a 'greens fix'.
    Thanks Alanna, spinach may just take care of it. Can we say YUM!
    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna