Two beloved favorites collide in this Southern Grits and Greens Casserole. Serve this incredible dish for brunch, breakfast or as a side dish to any of your favorite entrees to round out the meal.
Southern Grits and Greens Casserole
We have a love affair with grits and greens in the South. While they're often served together, they aren't always combined in a casserole. The addition of bacon and cheese doesn't hurt. Whether you like collard greens, turnip greens, kale or even spinach they will all work in this casserole.
What's the Difference Between Grits and Polenta?
Just in case, you’ve never had Southern grits, here are the basics. Southern grits are made from hominy which are corn kernels that have had the hull and germ removed.They’re ground from white corn and are usually a pale yellow color. At times, you’ll see variations in color and find grits, with a more intense yellow hue, too. Polenta, on the other hand, has a brighter yellow color and are ground more coarse than grits due to the fact, they're ground from the whole corn kernel. Grits and polenta share a comparable nutty taste and grainy texture and both are made from ground corn. Southern grits can be made like a soft porridge and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner with any variety of toppings.
Stone Ground Grits
Stone ground grits are the gold standard but, take they do take considerably longer to cook.
- For this casserole I use quick cooking, not instant, grits. There is a difference so, read the label carefully.
- This grits casserole can be fully assembled, covered and chilled. As with any casserole, allow it to come to room temperature before baking and add 10-15 minutes to the baking time. The grits will solidify in the fridge and will take longer to soften and heat thoroughly.
- Frozen collard greens work like a charm in this recipe but, you could, of course use greens cooked from scratch. You'll need about 2 cups of cooked, chopped greens.
- Collard greens, turnip greens and mustard greens will all work in this casserole. Even kale in a pinch.
- We love this with a dash or two of hot sauce. You may omit, if preferred.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Southern Grits And Greens Casserole
- 1 16 oz frozen collard greens
- 1 tsp salt for greens
- 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups half and half
- 1 Tbsp garlic salt adjust to taste
- 2 cups quick cooking grits (not instant)
- 1 8 oz container garden vegetable spreadable cream cheese softened
- 2 cups shredded Swiss or sharp white cheddar cheese divided
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese divided
- ½ lb bacon cooked and crumbled, reserve 1 Tbsp drippings
- 1 medium sweet onion diced
- 2 tsp hot sauce adjust more or less to taste
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 Tbsp butter divided
- 3 green onion thinly sliced
- In a medium-size pot, cook collard greens in water (amount called for on package) and 1 tsp salt. Cook for 15 minutes, then drain and squeeze out excess moisture.
- Meanwhile, in a large heavy bottomed pot bring chicken broth, half and half and garlic salt to a boil. Whisking constantly add grits in a single stream. Lower heat to medium-low and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, for 20-25 minutes or until creamy. May add more broth or half and half to thin, if needed.
- After frying bacon, remove to paper towels and crumble. Cook onion in 1 Tbsp drippings until softened, about 2 minutes.
- Remove grits from heat, add cream cheese and 2 Tbsp butter. Stir until fully melted. To the grits add greens, 1 cup shredded cheese, ½ Parmesan cheese, ½ cooked bacon, hot sauce and black pepper. Mix until fully combined.
- To bake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking dish using 1 Tbsp butter or spray with cooking spray. Pour grits and greens into the dish. Top with remaining shredded cheese, Parmesan cheese and bacon. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is lightly golden. May broil to brown further, if desired.
- Let stand 5 minutes, garnish with green onion and serve with additional hot sauce on the side, if desired.
- May use turnip greens, mustard greens or spinach in the same amount in place of collards.
- The frozen greens used in this recipe came with a seasoning packet. It's not necessary to use it in this dish. Season the water with salt as directed in the recipe.