I didn’t grow up eating grits. Though I grew up in what could be considered the South geographically speaking, south Florida couldn’t be further from what most people would consider the South culturally. In fact the further north in Florida you go, the closer you get to actually experiencing southern culture, which includes of course, southern cuisine. Occasionally my grandparents ate grits, but I never did as a kid. My first experience tasting grits was in a little cafe in Blue Ridge, GA on vacation with my other half and my grandmother. She ordered cheesy grits, I gave them a taste at her request, and while I admit they were good, they didn’t rock my world. I did however experience world rocking grits earlier this year.
My other half and I were celebrating our 14 year anniversary (go us!), and I had a reason to be in Asheville that weekend, so off to Asheville we went. I love Asheville, I think it’s one of the absolute best places to visit, experience, and most importantly eat! Asheville is one of the most vegan/vegetarian friendly city’s I’ve ever been to, and I ate better there than I think I ever have while on a trip. On our last day in town we figured we should get an early start since we had a long ride home. At 7am on a Sunday morning, options can be limited. A quick Yelp search led me to Rejavanation Cafe in West Asheville close to where we were staying. Fortunately for us it was open.
Our hope was to get a quick seated breakfast, some really good coffee, and get on the road as quickly as possible. This place not only delivered on that, but it exceeded my expectations exponentially. I was not expecting the fantastic culinary experience we had the pleasure of indulging in. I ordered a breakfast panini (I was still eating eggs on occasion then) and to my surprise and delight I was served something so inconspicuous that it’s not even an item you can order on the menu, it’s simply included as a side, an afterthought, but to me it was the absolute highlight of the meal: sweet potato grits.
My immediate thought was how brilliant, two classic southern staples melded into one delicious breakfast. The sweet potato grits there are so. damn. good. Smoky, sweet, savory, and delectable. I couldn’t stop thinking about them after we got back from the trip. I knew I had to try to hack this recipe in my kitchen to recreate this dish and make it taste as good as my memory. After several close attempts, I think I finally cracked the code. My recipe has all of the flavor elements I remember enjoying so much and the added benefit of being completely vegan (the ones served at Rejavanation are vegetarian, but not vegan.). So if you happen to be in West Asheville, definitely stop by this place and give them a try, if not, I recommend giving my recipe a try and have a little West Asheville wherever you live. Buen Provecho!
Makes 2-4 servings
1 TB Olive oil (Or Canola, coconut or safflower oil)
10-14 oz. Sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 3/4 C Water
1/2 tsp kosher salt + a pinch more
1/2 C white corn grits
1 TB vegan butter
1/8 tsp ground chipotle
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/16 tsp ground white pepper
1/3 C coconut creamer
- Preheat the oven to 425°
- Peel and dice the sweet potato into triangle shaped pieces, and place in a bowl.
- Pour olive oil (or alternate) over the sweet potato chunks, and toss to coat them thoroughly.
- Place the sweet potato on a baking sheet in a single layer, and cook for 15-20 minutes turning once. Your desired result is a dark caremelization on both sides. This will add so much flavor!
- Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven, sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt over them. Using the tines of a fork (or a masher,) smash half of the sweet potatoes into a mash, and set the other half aside.
- In a medium pot, bring the water to a boil, and add the salt.
- Once the water starts boiling, reduce the heat to low, place the pan half on and half off the burner.
- Add the mashed sweet potatoes to the pot, then add the grits, and stir to combine.
- Add the spices and continue stirring.
- Once the grits thicken up (approximately 4-7 minutes,) add the coconut cream.
- Then add the butter and the remaining sweet potato.
- Stir for an additional 3-5 minutes or until fluffy and combined.
You can serve this for breakfast, as a side, or it’s even satisfying enough for a meal. You can sub out the vegan ingredients for non-vegan, but why would you want to? Enjoy!
Nutrition Facts per serving (3 servings)
Fat: 9 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Potassium: 383 mg
Carbs: 44 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sugars: 6.5 g
Protein: 3 g
Vitamin A: 322%
Vitamin C: 5%
[metacook type=”name” display=”none”]Smoky Sweet Potato Grits[/metacook][metacook type=”description” display=”none”]Smoky, creamy, savory and sweet, with perfect combination of spices.[/metacook][metacook type=”prepTime” display=”none”]5 min[/metacook][metacook type=”cookTime” display=”none”]25-30 min[/metacook][metacook type=”totalTime” display=”none”]35 min[/metacook][metacook type=”yield” display=”none”]2 servings[/metacook][metacook type=”calories” display=”none”]xx[/metacook]