Southern Goat Cheese Grits & Vegetable Bowl

Southern Goat Cheese Grits & Vegetable Bowl

Make this southern goat cheese grits and vegetable bowl! It’s a bowl of creamy stone ground grits with goat cheese melted in, topped with garlicky sauteed spinach, roasted sweet potatoes, and black-eyed peas, then topped with salsa verde! Feel free to use any seasonal veggies you like to switch it up.

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Savory Tomato Cobbler with Whole Grain Yogurt Biscuits

Bake easy whole grain yogurt biscuits over sweet, caramelized heirloom tomatoes infused with garlic and basil to make this savory tomato cobbler. 

Ever since I saw a recipe for tomato cobbler on Joy the Baker, I've been a wee bit obsessed with the idea. Now that I've finally made one, I can't believe it took me so long. Roasting the tomatoes brings out their natural sweetness and truly, this cobbler could almost pass for dessert. Almost.

Right off the vine, summer cherry tomatoes are one of the tastiest, sweetest things...about as close to perfection as you get! As much as I was daydreaming about my tomato cobbler, I wondered if it was a sin to cook my perfect summer tomatoes. It hurt a bit as I watched my tomatoes blister and pop in the cast iron skillet, but it smelled so good coming out of the oven that I knew I made the right choice!

A savory tomato cobbler with sweet, caramelized onions and tomatoes, topped with flaky whole wheat yogurt biscuits

Speaking of cooked versus raw, that brings up a great topic I'm frequently asked about. Although the raw food craze has mostly passed, many people wonder if they're "killing" the nutrients in their vegetables by cooking them. Raw food dieters claim cooking food above 120 degrees destroys the health supporting enzymes and nutrients it contains. This is partially true. Enzymes in food are mostly deactivated by heat, but they would be destroyed anyway by the acidic environment in your stomach. And while some nutrients are lost in cooking, others are made more digestible and absorbable. The phytonutrient lycopene in tomatoes is a perfect example - tomatoes cooked in fat contain thousands of times more lycopene than raw! So really, as long as you're eating plenty of produce and preparing it in ways you enjoy, you're set!

Savory Tomato Cobbler with Whole Grain Yogurt Biscuits

Serves 4ish

Ingredients

Filling: 

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 lbs cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Biscuits: 

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons very cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup full fat yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Add red onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 7-8 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil and thyme and saute until tomatoes are tender and starting to burst. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  3. While tomatoes are cooking, make the biscuits. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and whisk together. Using fingers, mix in butter until it forms a sandy consistency. Stir in yogurt and honey until combined. Make four biscuits and dollop over the tomatoes. Place in the oven and bake 20-25 minutes until golden and tomatoes are bubbling. Let cool slightly and serve.

More recipes for summer tomatoes: 

Tomatoes Stuffed with Pesto Brown Rice
Tomatoes Stuffed with Pesto Brown Rice
Grilled Pork Tacos with Charred Tomatoes and Eggplant
Grilled Pork Tacos with Charred Tomatoes and Eggplant
Zoodles with Creamy Vegan Pesto and Roasted Tomatoes
Zoodles with Creamy Vegan Pesto and Roasted Tomatoes

Black-Eyed Pea and Greens Casserole with Cornbread Crust

This Southern black-eyed pea and greens casserole with cornbread crust will ensure plenty of prosperity in the New Year! Enjoy it vegetarian or flavor with a little bacon for luck. 

Wow. In just a few short days, we'll be saying goodbye to 2015 and ringing in a new year. Is it just me, or has this year flown by? Or do I say that every year, completely forgetting the speed at which 365 days passes?

How are you feeling about the New Year? I find most people fall into two camps: excitement or dread. Excited for all the opportunities and experiences that await, or dread for the pressure to come up with an epic, life changing resolution, all while coming off a Christmas cookie (or champagne) hangover.

If you fall in the latter group, be sure to check back here on Wednesday, when I'm sharing my strategy for creating a non-resolution that truly can transform your life over the course of a year. But also, please know I'm a huge fan of starting resolutions/non-resolutions somewhere around January 5th or so. Give yourself some time to breathe after the hectic pace of the holiday season. It's hard to think about what's truly important in life when your brain just wants to focus on post-Christmas sales, which sparkly dress to wear on New Years, and sleep.

Let's save that mental energy and instead think about something a little less exhausting - food. Growing up, I don't know if  we had a traditional New Years food, but since Scott and I started dating 10 (!!!) years ago, I've cooked a Southern New Years feast complete with black-eyed peas, greens, cornbread and pork. Down here, we believe black-eyed peas bring prosperity, greens bring money, pork brings progress (because pigs root forward when foraging, obviously), and cornbread brings gold. Apparently, us Southerners are quite focused on getting rich. Whether the meal actually brings riches or not, who knows, but either way you get a tasty feast.

I like to have fun with the tradition, every year creating a new dish with the same basic elements. Since our tastes lean more plant-centric (and also because I have no clue how to cook a pork roast), I like to use a little bacon for flavoring and greens and black eyed peas as the main ingredients. We've done everything from New Years soups to black-eyed pea patties served over a mess of greens!

Last year I made this casserole to share on the blog, but didn't make enough cornbread to cover the top. Whoops! It was so tasty, I had to attempt again! This is kind of like a Southern version of a tamale pie, with a crispy cornbread topping over a casserole of baked greens, black-eyed peas in a molasses-sweetened tomato sauce. I kept it vegetarian this time, but for New Years, I'd flavor the greens and beans with a couple slices of bacon or stir in a little leftover ham from Christmas.


Black-Eyed Pea and Greens Casserole with Cornbread Crust

Serves 6

Feel free to saute 2 slices of chopped bacon with the onions and garlic to flavor (and for luck!).

Ingredients

Filling: 

  • 1 cup dried black-eyed peas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large bunch collard greens or kale, stemmed and leaves chopped
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 14-ounce can pureed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce

Cornbread Topping:

  • 1½ cups stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1½ cups buttermilk or kefir
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. First, cook the black-eyed peas. If you remember, soak them in a big bowl of water overnight/all day (I never remember). Place peas in a large pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer about 1 hour until tender, but not falling apart. Taste a couple to ensure doneness. Drain and set aside until ready to use.
  2. When ready to cook casserole, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large sided skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and red pepper. Saute until tender, about 5-7 minuets. Add greens and water. Stir, cover and cook 10 minutes until greens are tender. If starting to dry out, add more water. Add tomatoes, molasses, dijon, hot sauce and season with salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes. Add black-eyed peas, stir to combine, and pour into large casserole dish. Let sit while you make cornbread topping.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients for the cornbread together. In a medium bowl whisk the egg, buttermilk, and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Whisk in scallions and parsley. Pour cornbread batter evenly over the casserole, spreading with a spatula to even. Place in the oven and bake 25-30 minutes until topping is browned and cooked through.

More lucky recipes for the new year:

Black Eyed Pea Patties with Hoppin' Collards
Black Eyed Pea Patties with Hoppin' Collards
Collard Green Salad with Beets, Black Eyed Peas and Cornbread Croutons
Collard Green Salad with Beets, Black Eyed Peas and Cornbread Croutons
Cornbread Tomato Salad with Buttermilk-Lime Dressing
Cornbread Tomato Salad with Buttermilk-Lime Dressing

Roasted Summer Vegetables with Southern Romesco

Roasted summer vegetables are delicious on their own, but even better with a bright and flavorful Southern romesco.

One can never have enough recipes for good 'ole caramelized and tender roasted veggies.

Just yesterday while leading a nutrition class, someone asked me the million dollar question:

"I get that I should be eating more vegetables, but how do you make them taste good?

Let me count the ways. You could top them with garlicky breadcrumbs, season them with a little bit of bacon, add dried fruit, grill 'em, serve them with a creamy vegan dipping sauce, fritter 'em, add smoky and spicy flavors. Or, you could keep things simple and roast them.

I want to point out a special vegetable in this mix - okra. It's definitely a polarizing veg. Okra detractors might call it slimy, or worse, mucusy, while okra lovers appreciate it's ropiness, ability to thicken stews (jambalaya!), and hold on tightly to breadcrumbs before baking.

I get the texture issues. Okra definitely has a unique one. But this is where roasting works it's wonders. Cut in half and roasted, or even left whole, the goo dries right up!

Now, this Southern romesco? Just do it. You probably will have some leftover with this recipe, although I didn't, probably because I dropped giant globs of it all over my veggies and maybe snuck in a food spoonfuls while photographing. I really wish I doubled up the recipe. Extras would be perfect on a veggie panini, tossed with whole grain pasta and grilled veggies. dolloped on my creamy mashed beans, or with scrambled eggs. You could even use it as a snack or appetizer and serve with whole grain crackers and crudites.


Roasted Summer Vegetables with Southern Romesco

Serves: About 4-8, depending on if it's a main or a side 

Adapted from Root to Leaf

Ingredients

Roasted Vegetables:

  • 1 cup black eyed peas, preferably soaked overnight
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lb okra pods, halved
  • 1 small Vidalia onion, halved and sliced into 1/2 inch crescents
  • 2 medium squash, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch crescents
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh basil, for serving

Southern Romesco:

  • 1 medium tomato, cut into large chunks
  • 2 red peppers, seeded and cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 medium red onion, cut into large chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup pecans, toasted
  • 1-2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

Instructions

  1. Place black eyed peas and bay leaf in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30-60 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.

  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. First, roast the vegetables for the romesco by tossing the tomato, peppers, red onion, and garlic with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast 15 minutes until tender then remove from oven and set aside.

  3. Toss okra, onion, squash and cherry tomatoes in a large bowl with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on 2 large baking sheets and place in the oven. Roast 20-30 minutes until tender and golden, tossing halfway through cooking. Remove from oven and toss with black -eyed peas.

  4. Place vegetables for romesco in the food processor with pecans, sherry vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Serve vegetables dolloped or tossed with romesco with fresh basil.

More roasted vegetable inspiration: 

Roasted Asparagus and Radishes with Mint Pea Pesto
Roasted Asparagus and Radishes with Mint Pea Pesto
Caramelized Cauliflower with Capers and Golden Raisins
Caramelized Cauliflower with Capers and Golden Raisins
Roasted Haricot Verts and Mushrooms with Garlicky Breadcrumbs
Roasted Haricot Verts and Mushrooms with Garlicky Breadcrumbs

Grilled Peach and Vidalia Onion Salsa

Inspired by two of my favorite foods from Georgia, this grilled peach and vidalia onion salsa is great by itself, served over fish or on a salad. 

When I was seven, I moved to Atlanta from Brooklyn. It's funny now to think back on my memories of the move. My parents told me we had a slide in the backyard and a pool, so naturally my seven year old brain interpreted it as a waterslide. I was pretty distraught when I found out it was just a regular old slide and a regular old pool. Although I quickly got over it when I realized "OMG WE HAVE A SLIDE AND A POOL!" Although we had a house in Brooklyn, the whole neighborhood concept was very new and very exciting to me. Like, I'm allowed to play outside without an adult present? What is this craziness??

Being the food lover that I am, my strongest memories are of experiencing Southern food for the first time. In New York, we were constantly exposed to new cultures through food, so moving to Georgia was no different. We excitedly dug into a bags of boiled peanuts, explored nearby barbecue restaurants and learned to eat cornbread that didn't taste like cake.

This recipe is a bit of a tribute to those first memories of Southern food. I remember my remember my mom looking everywhere for Vidalia onions, a sweet onion only grown in Georgia. When she finally found them, she roasted them whole so we could enjoy the unadulterated taste. I don't know if I ever ate a peach before moving to Georgia, and although I now know South Carolina grows the best peaches, it was pretty exciting to try peaches for the first time in the peach state.

This salsa is great as a dip with tortilla chips, but there are many other ways to enjoy it. Here's some ideas:

Grilled Peach and Vidalia Onion Salsa

Adapted from Root to Leaf, appropriately written by an (amazing) Atlanta chef.

Ingredients

  • 4 firm-ripe peaches
  • 1 sweet onion, preferably Vidalia
  • 1-2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat grill on medium-high heat. As the grill heats, cut the peaches into halves, removing the pit. Peel the onion and cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Place peaches and onion in a bowl, toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Spread peaches and onion evenly on the grill, cut side of peaches down. Cover and cook 5 minutes until peaches have grill marks then remove. Flip the onion and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove and set aside to cool.
  3. When cool enough to handle, chop peaches and onion into a rough dice. Place in a large bowl with jalapeno, lime juice and basil. Season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Vegan Cheese Grits and Barbecue Beans

When it comes to Southern food, most people are a fan. Everyone loves cornbread. Outside of vegetarians/vegans, I can’t think of a single person who doesn’t drool over fried chicken. And what kind of freak of nature would ever turn down a biscuit?

Now grits on the other hand? That is one divisive food.

I think I know the issue. Most people who aren’t from the South have only had instant grits, the icky food-like substance that’s cooked in the microwave. Take my word on it, those little packets DO NOT contain grits. I don’t know what it is, but I know what it isn’t. Their texture is mushy, not creamy. There’s no discernable corn flavor, just salt. And the flavored ones with fake cheese and bacon bits? Don’t even get me started. It’s an insult to corn, and the South, and essentially all of humanity.

Grits are made by grinding dried corn into a coarse meal. You can find both corn grits and hominy grits. The latter is made from corn treated in an alkali solution. This process removes the outer clear coating called the pericarp (aka the crap that gets stuck in your teeth) and improves the nutritional value. Mineral content increases dramatically (750% more calcium!) and converts niacin to a more absorbable form. When corn was adopted as a staple crop from Native Americans, people skipped this step in processing because they didn’t understand the value. This led to a worldwide epidemic of pellagra, a disease caused by niacin deficiency. The epidemic was at it’s worst in the American South and actually, the world’s first hospital devoted to treating pellagra was started right down the road in Spartanburg, SC. I just learned that fact writing this post and feel a little smarter for it.

So there you go, you came for a yummy recipe for grits and BBQ beans and left with a history lesson. I’m a nerd like that.

You can make this dish with any type of grits you like, either corn or hominy, as long as it’s stone ground. Stone ground grits have an incredible texture and when cooked properly, get deliciously creamy. I highly encourage you to order a bag from Anson Mills, my buddies here in Columbia (note – they don’t know me. I just love what they do so much that I consider them friends). They’re known for saving heirloom Southern grains, which are sold to some of the best restaurants all over the world! I used their pencil cob grits, but my favorite is their blue corn grits.

Vegan Cheese Grits and Barbecue Beans

Serves 4

Ingredients

Grits:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup stone-ground grits
  • 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast

Beans: 

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 can white beans, drained

Instructions

  1. Bring 4 cups water, salt, and olive oil to a boil in a medium pot. Slowly pour in grits, whisking with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to low and simmer, whisking frequently, until grits are creamy, about 45 minutes, adding more water if needed. Season with black pepper and stir in nutritional yeast.
  2. White grits are cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 5minutes. Add tomato puree, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, worcestershire and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes until flavors have melded. Stir in white beans and cook to heat through 2 minutes.
  3. Divide grits between four bowls and top with beans.

You Might Also Like:

Honey Bourbon BBQ Tempeh
Honey Bourbon BBQ Tempeh
Souther Goat Cheese Grits & Vegetable Bowl
Souther Goat Cheese Grits & Vegetable Bowl
Cheese Grits Stuffed Peppers with Tomato Gravy
Cheese Grits Stuffed Peppers with Tomato Gravy
 
Vegan Cheese Grits and Barbecue Beans

Collard Green Salad with Cornbread Croutons, Beets & Buttermilk Dressing

This collard green salad with cornbread croutons, beets, black-eyed peas, and probiotic rich buttermilk dressing is proof Southern food is more than fried chicken and biscuits! 

I've got a special treat in store for you today - a guest post from my lovely dietetic intern, Sallie Vaughn. We spent a few days together where she got a glimpse into the crazy life of a private practice dietitian/food blogger and a look at all the different career options for dietitians.

When we first met (after my 130 lb Saint Bernard was done pretending to be a lap dog), we chatted about her career goals. She told me as someone who grew up in a small town, she was passionate about people in rural areas live healthier lives. She then told me all about her grandma, or Grom as she calls her, and even shared an article she once wrote all about the healthy lessons she learned from her. Grom sounds like the epitome of a Southern grandma! At ninety years old (I think I got that right - apologies to Grom if I aged you!), she credits her health to savoring food with the family she loves. That's certainly something I can get behind! The dishes she cooked are a great example of how real traditional Southern food can promote health, a fact I love to share with my South Carolina clientele!

Alas, I'll turn it over to Sallie!

Hi! I am Sallie Vaughan, a dietetic intern through South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to write a guest blog post for Rachael. I am soooo excited to share my story with everyone! My blog posts talks about growing up as a child surrounded by southern food and how easy it can be to incorporate traditional southern food into everyday, healthy dishes!

Some of the best memories I can remember as a child were spent sitting around my grandmother’s kitchen table. No matter if it were after church or on a holiday, my grandmother would have a home-cooked meal ready for anyone eager to come to her house. Her kitchen often smelled of warm cornbread right out the oven. On a snowy day, you could find snow ice cream in her freezer and vegetable soup on her stovetop. Homemade chex mix and chocolate covered peanuts would sit in the living room for folks to nibble at before dinner was ready. When it was time to eat, an entire spread of food covered her kitchen table. Nobody was allowed to dig in until she blessed the food!

Gron, as we call her, has a passion for cooking and entertaining family and friends. Her house is where family gathers for all holidays and celebrations. It is rare to find cousins, uncles, and aunts all together without the presence of her good, southern cooking. If you ask anybody in the town, they could tell you how much her chocolate meringue pie is to die for. And I bet they have been invited over to her house for a meal, too! Nobody is a stranger to Gron.

I was the lucky granddaughter, though, because I lived right next door to her for 18 years! When it was just Daddy and I at home while Mama was out of town, we didn’t have to think twice about who was cooking us dinner. We just waited by the house phone until Gron called to invite us over. “Y’all hungry?” she would ask, “well come on over”.

Her kitchen table is where many stories were shared and laughs were heard. It is where we sat for hours upon hours stuffing our face until we couldn’t take another bite. It is where we gathered as one big family. And lastly, it is where my love for food and family originated. It’s no surprise to me that I am pursing a career that revolves around food. Perhaps I could blame Gron for that or thank her. I’ll go with the latter.

Since I grew up on southern food, I know how much of a bad reputation it can get. But, believe it or not, a traditional southern cuisine has great amount of benefits. Unfortunately, you can’t expect to get these benefits from cooking with loads of bacon grease and butter. You can, however, use simple substitutions to make southern food healthy.

Southern Collard Green Salad
Southern Collard Green Salad

Rachael and I spent a day together and created a healthy, southern dish that incorporated many of my grandmother’s favorite ingredients. We created a salad that included collard greens as the base and topped it with beets and black -eyed peas. We used cornbread for croutons and drizzled the salad with buttermilk dressing. Everything was made from scratch - Yum Yum! I told you southern food could be healthy!

Beets were my favorite in this salad because of all the memories I can attach it to. Gron always served beets and I was never a fan as a child. My daddy would lean over and say “you know beets make your eyes pretty, that’s why I’m so pretty”. As a nutrition student, I now know that he mixed up the health benefits of beets and carrots, but beets do have amazing benefits. They contain immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber to keep you full, and potassium/magnesium for nerves, muscles, and organ function.

The other ingredients in our salad offered many rewards, too!

COLLARDS // Provide huge antioxidant benefits. Excellent source of Vitamin K for anti-inflammatory and omega-3 fatty acids.

BLACK EYED PEAS // Our protein source of the salad. High levels of fiber and iron.

CORNBREAD // Corn meal is actually a whole grain! Whole grain=fiber! Calcium, iron, magnesium, B-vitamins, and the list goes on. Rachael and I replaced sugar for honey in the recipe!

BUTTERMILK // Doesn’t contain all the extra fat in store-bought dressings. Buttermilk provides probiotics, healthy bacteria for your gut. Provides calcium, phosphorus, and even protein.

I enjoyed spending the day with Rachael and reminiscing on my childhood. Who knew southern food could be so healthy. The key is cooking from scratch and knowing exactly what is in your food. In today’s world, everyone is so busy and often grab fast food or warm up a frozen meal in the microwave. Instead of eating together at the dinner table, many families sit in front of the television. Food has a huge impact on fueling our body, but it also brings people together for happiness. Just think of all the stories I would have missed out on without Gron’s kitchen table.

Sallie, best wishes to you in all that you do! You are smart and passionate, a surefire recipe for success! Wherever life takes you, I know you'll be inspiring others!

Crispy Cornbread Croutons

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1½ cups stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1½ cups organic buttermilk
  • Olive oil spray

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together honey, egg, buttermilk and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Whisk wet ingredients into dry until combined.
  3. When oven is hot, place 1 tablespoon olive oil in an 8-inch cast iron skillet and place skillet in the oven for a minute to warm. Pour batter into hot skillet and place it in the oven. Bake 15 minutes until cornbread is golden and edges have pulled away from the skillet. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  4. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. When cool enough to handle, remove cornbread from the oven and cut into cubes. Spray with olive oil and bake 10 minutes until toasted.

Collard Green Salad with Cornbread, Beets & Buttermilk Dressing

Serves 4

Here are directions for how to roast beets. You could also purchase precooked beets or even pickled beets would be great here.

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of collards, thick stems removed and cut into thin ribbons
  • 4 medium beets, roasted or purchased precooked
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black-eyed peas, from dry or canned
  • Cornbread croutons

Buttermilk Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together collards, beets, and black-eyed peas. Top with cornbread croutons and drizzle with buttermilk dressing.

Honey Bourbon Barbecue Tempeh Sandwich

Honey Bourbon Barbecue Tempeh Sandwich

You’ll love the tangy taste of the sauce for this honey bourbon barbecue tempeh sandwich! It’s perfect for those of you who think traditional ketchup based barbecue sauce is too sweet (me!). To make this sandwich, bake tempeh slices with sauce, pile high on a bun, and serve with pickles and coleslaw! It’s a really fun way to enjoy a meatless meal!

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Cornbread Salad with Buttermilk Lime Dressing

This cornbread salad with buttermilk lime dressing is as Southern as it gets! With sweet Vidalia onions, local tomatoes to go with crunchy cornbread croutons and herb packed buttermilk lime dressing. 

Salads get such a bum rep. I mean, who gets excited about salad? Essentially no one. To most, it's the epitome of bland, boring diet food. When a client tells me he's been eating more salad, it's always in the same droll monotone that reminds me of Ben Stein calling Ferris Buller's name for class attendance.

"I've been eating more sah-luuuds"

So sad.

Hopefully a few of my recipes have already inspired you to see beyond bagged salad, shredded cheese and bottled ranch, but if you're still in the salad hating camp, read on.

Think of salads as a way to turn your favorite delicious ingredients into a full meal.  Sitting down to a big plate of cheese, olives and bread might be tasty, but balanced (or filling), it is not. Toss those ingredients with spicy arugula, and tadaa! Dinner is served! You could also think of salads as a way to indulge in decadent foods in a more moderate way. A sprinkle of bacon, a wedge of triple cream brie, or a few slices of seared steak go a long way on a salad. Here are my favorite tips to build a better salad:

  • Use in season vegetables - what you find at the local farmer's market is great! There's a huge taste difference, important in a veggie-centric dish like salad.
  • Choose your lettuce right. Romaine is great for crunchy chopped salads. Spring mix has a mild flavor, making it versatile, but you should add strongly flavored ingredients like olives, dried fruit, or a bright vinaigrette to punch it up. Boston, butter and bibb lettuces work well with other creamy ingredients, like avocado and soft cheeses, but they need something with a little crunch too, like diced apple or toasted nuts. Arugula, dandelion, kale or other bitter greens need a hint of sweetness, like a bit of honey in the dressing, fruit or roasted root vegetables.
  • Toss out that shredded junk and splurge on flavorful, high quality cheese. You only need a small amount, about 1/2-1 ounce per serving, so make it count. My favorites - gorgonzola, feta and extra sharp aged cheddar.
  • Use fresh bread from the bakery to make croutons. Start by heating olive oil and garlic in large skillet, then add torn chunks of bread and cook until lightly toasted.
  • Toss in cooked whole grains like farro, barley or brown rice. It adds a nutty flavor and turns a basic salad into a substantial main.
  • Nuts make a great salad garnish or you could use a more substantial amount as a protein source. Toast them first to bring out their flavor.

Cornbread Salad with Buttermilk Lime Dressing

Serves 6

Ingredients

Salad:

  • 1 1/2 lb tomatoes, preferably heirloom, in wedges
  • 1 head leaf lettuce
  • 6 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 large Vidalia onion, peeled and sliced as thinly as possible

Buttermilk-Lime Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, preferably organic
  • 5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 2-3 limes)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
  • Salt, black pepper to taste

Thin, Crispy Cornbread:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups lowfat buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients for the cornbread together. In a medium bowl whisk the egg until frothy, then whisk in the buttermilk and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
  3. Grease a 12-inch skillet with the butter, leaving the excess in the pan and place it in the oven. When the butter in the pan in the oven is melted, remove from the oven and swirl it around (carefully!) to cover the bottom and sides. Pour the batter into the skillet. Bake for about 15 minutes until the bread is golden brown and the edges have pulled away from the skillet. Remove from oven and let cool
  4. While the cornbread is baking, whisk together the salad dressing ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  5. When the cornbread is cool enough to handle, cut it into 1-inch cubes. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake in a 250 degree oven until it's lightly toasted, about 10 minutes.
  6. In a large bowl, toss together lettuces, tomato and onions. Add 4 cups of cornbread cubes! Toss with dressing or serve on the side.

Cheese Grits Stuffed Poblanos with Tomato Gravy

These cheese grits stuffed poblanos with tomato gravy and melty cheddar cheese are comfort food to the max! 

If you are from the South and do not own a Lee Brothers cookbook, then you're not really a southern. Perhaps I'm being a bit extreme.  And as someone who has lived a third of her life above the Mason-Dixon line, I probably shouldn't be judging ones southern-ness. But seriously, if you love southern food as much as I do, then you need to familiarize yourself with Matt and Ted.  Like me, the Lee Brothers were born in New York. Also like me, they moved down south as young children, ending up in Charleston, SC, the mecca of low country southern cuisine.  Their first cookbook, "The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook", tells the story of falling in love with Charleston through recipes, anecdotes from their childhood and bits of culinary history. 

Both brothers moved back to New York for college.  In a city that has an Italian, Moroccan, French, Japanese, Chinese, Ethiopian and a Jewish deli on every block, there was just one thing they couldn't find - boiled peanuts. So, they started making and selling their own.  Soon after, they founded the Lee Bros. Boiled Peanuts Catalogue, where they sold artisan southern foods like sorghum syrup and pickled peaches to displaced southerners. Eventually, this led to a career as food and travel journalists, and finally, cookbook authors.  

The Lee Bros. hawk legit southern food.  No Paula Dean style "let's-throw-in-another-stick-of-butter-deep-fry-it-and-call-it-southern" recipes here.  Many of the recipes have been passed down generation after generation from places all over the south - small family-run farms in Tennessee, bayou-dwellers in Louisiana, Mexican immigrants in Texas, or from another must have southern cookbook, "Charleston Receipts."  In "Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook," you'll find recipes for perfect jambalaya, baked country ham, low country boil and of course, boiled peanuts. 

What I like most about their recipes is that they aren't too stuck on finding "The Most Authentic ______."  Just the version they think tastes best.  Many of the recipes, like this one, are modernized but inspired by traditional southern foods.  

The other thing I love is that they dispel the myth that all southern food is all lard, butter and white flour. Sometimes that's correct, but the south has it's roots in agriculture so southern food was traditionally plant-based with very little meat - think collard greens, red beans and rice, pickled veggies. Although you won't find the Lee Bros. cookbook in the diet section of your bookstore, (not with that four-layer red velvet cake on page 466!), you'll find many whole food recipes with an emphasis on plants. Cornbread and tomato salad, squash and mushroom hominy, whole roasted fish with sweet potatoes and scallions and pickled okra - all dietitian approved!

This recipe was inspired by the chiles rellenos the Lee brothers enjoyed from a random gas station cantina on Johns Island.  =It catered mostly to Mexican farm workers, so the food was authentic. As they point out, southern food and Mexican food have a lot in common - corn, squash, hot peppers, pork and cheese! The pairing of cheese grits and mildly spicy poblanos is perfection!

Cheese Grits Stuffed Poblanos with Tomato Gravy

Serves 4

Adapted from Lee Brothers Southern Cookbook

Ingredients

Grits:

  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup stone-ground grits
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese

Chiles:

  • 1 14-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes, drained
  • 4 large poblano peppers
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar (ditto on above)

Instructions

  1. First, make the grits. Bring the milk and water to a boil on medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. When it comes to a boil, slowly pour in the grits and salt while stirring constantly for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring every 2-3 minutes, for a total of about 30-40 minutes until thickened, soft and creamy. Turn off the heat, add the black pepper and cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted into the grits.
  2. While grits are cooking, preheat the broiler to high. Arrange the peppers, onion and garlic on a large baking sheet. Brush the vegetables lightly with olive oil. Place in the oven about 3 inches from the heating element. Turn the peppers about every 3 minutes until the skins are blistered and well-charred on all sides, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 400 degrees. Transfer the peppers to a large bowl and cover with saran wrap. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, gently rub away the skins. Cut a slit into each pepper and carefully remove the seeds.
  3. When the tomatoes, onions and garlic are cool enough to handle, transfer to a food processor and puree into a chunky sauce. Season with salt and black pepper.
  4. Divide the cheese grits evenly between each pepper half. Press the grits into the pepper lightly with your hands or a spoon. Place in a baking sheet and pour the tomato sauce over the peppers.
  5. Place in the oven and bake at 400 degrees until the sauce is bubbly, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese on top and place under the broiler for about 1-2 minutes until the cheese is browned and melted.