Cheese Grits & Chimichurri Zucchini

Something about the title of this recipe already makes it seem very involved, yes?

Well, you’re right. There are a few too many parts to this recipe, but it’s worth it! I promise! Plus, you’ll end up with lots of chimichurri for additional recipes, or perhaps to just eat by the spoonful. (Guilty as charged.)

chimichurri

One of my favorite comfort foods is cheese grits topped with sautéed vegetables. I’m failing to remember the first time I cooked this, but I know that it’s one of my go-to “easy” dinners nowadays. Though the time spent stirring the grits over the stove is relatively tedious, the end result is worth it. Plus, it’s a good arm exercise. (Silver linings, people!)  My Italian roots automatically dictate my love for polenta, but I love grits because of their slightly heartier grain. Admittedly, the sautéed vegetables add bulk to the dish, but not always extra flavor. I usually spice up my veggies with garlic powder and a few red pepper flakes, but one night, that just was not cutting it. Finally, an idea dawned upon me: chimichurri! I happened to make a batch a few nights prior to serve on some steak, and after finely dicing up a mere four cups worth of cilantro and parsley by hand, I had a few spoonfuls to spare. The warmth of the garlic and pepper was replaced by the freshness of the herbs, and wow, it rounded out the flavor of sharp cheddar in the grits quite nicely.

chimichurri

I would suggest making the chimichurri sauce at least one night before, as one, 24 hours in the fridge allows the flavors to grow, and two, if doing it by hand like I did (because I prefer big shiny sharp knives over food processors), it’ll take you a good 20 minutes to slice and dice everything up, at least.

cheese grits

Cheese Grits & Chimichurri Zucchini 
(Serves Four)

Before We Get Started…

Many cornmeal-based dishes, such as grits or polenta, tend to seize up and solidify rather quickly upon removal from a heat source. It is my strong suggestion that your zucchini is sautéed, dressed with the chimichurri, and ready to be served before the grits have finished cooking, so all can be served immediately.

Ingredients:

Chimichurri Sauce:

-1 cup cilantro
-1 cup parsley
-3/4 cup olive oil
-4 cloves garlic
-Salt, to taste
-Red pepper flakes, to taste

Directions:

Finely chop cilantro, parsley, and garlic cloves. Add to bowl. Add olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes. If your sauce is too pasty, slowly add more olive oil until desired consistency is reached.

– – –

Sautéed Zuchinni

Ingredients:

-2 medium-sized zuchinni, unpeeled and diced
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-Salt, to taste
-Garlic powder, to taste (optional)

Directions:

Add olive oil to non-stick frying pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add zucchini to frying pan and cook for five minutes or until desired consistency.

– – –

Cheese Grits
(Adapted from Alton Brown’s Cheese Grits recipe from Food Network)

Ingredients:
-1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
-2 cups whole milk
-2 cups water
-4 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I prefer Cabot!)
-4 ounces butter
-Salt, to taste
-Garlic powder, to taste (optional)

Directions:

Add milk, water, and salt into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Upon boiling, slowly add in cornmeal, whisking after each addition. Once all cornmeal has been added, reduce heat to low and continue to whisk frequently, roughly every 3 – 4 minutes. Grits should have a creamy consistency after 20 minutes. Once grits have reached appropriate consistency, remove from heat. Add butter and whisk until incorporated. Slowly add in shredded cheese and mix until incorporated.

To Serve:

After sautéing zucchini, add two to three spoonfuls of chimichurri sauce; toss. Divide grits into four bowls or plates. Top grits with the chimichurri zucchini. Top with additional chimichurri, if desired.

cheese grits

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