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Tomato Thursday: What’s a Grit? September 8, 2011

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Food, Garden, random stuff.


Do you know anyone else who loves their fresh tomatoes like I do?

I would go so far as to say I celebrate each and every tomato I pick – I know the season is oh-so-short, and, though I preserve as many as I can possibly manage, there is still nothing quite like garden-fresh tomatoes, is there?

See, I don’t buy out-of-season tomatoes – I believe they are an abomination.

A while back, I stumbled upon Fine Cooking‘s recipe for Chili-Cheddar Grits with Grilled Corn and Tomatoes and I knew it was worth a second look – once I had fresh tomatoes, that is.


Corn – that’s kind of a different story.  I buy plenty of fresh, in-season corn and freeze that, but tomatoes – they’re either fresh from the garden, canned by my own hands, or not at all.

So, now that that’s settled, I ask you: what is a grit anyways?

I’ll tell you what it is – it’s polenta.

Corn meal.

And it does take more than 5 minutes to cook.  Not much more, but a bit.

So.  Now I’ve gotten that out of my system.

PhotobucketWe assemble our stuff – some fresh corn (about 3 ears or a cup and a half of kernels), grilled and cut off the ears (I do that the minute I get it home from the market!), a half pound of plum tomatoes (in our case, one of my giant San Marzanos – seriously!), a cup of “quick-cooking grits” (or “polenta”) (or, um, plain old “corn meal”), some chili powder (4 teaspoons) and some sliced scallions (1/2 cup) and shredded cheddar (4 oz).

Oh, I do love me some shredded cheddar, don’t you?


Now we start by oiling the tomatoes and corn, then grilling them (if you haven’t already grilled the corn, that is).  This will give both vegetables a nice, slightly-charred flavor (in a good way).

Just grill until the veggies are spotty-brown – you don’t want scorched, but you do want, well, grilled.

You know what I mean, right?  It’ll take about 10 minutes on a medium-ish grill.


The tomatoes go in the food processor to get processed, then it’s time to begin.

Bring 3 and a half cups of salted water to a boil in a medium-to-large saucepan, then whisk in the grits (polenta) (corn meal), chili powder, and crushed tomatoes.  Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat and cook, partially covered, and stirring frequently until the mixture is tender and thickened, 5-15 minutes,. depending upon whether you use grits, polenta,  or corn meal.

PhotobucketThen we stir in the corn and scallions, and then the cheese, along with a few grinds of black pepper.  Stir until the cheese melts and the vegetables are hot, then serve in bowls.

While the photo may not look like much, let me tell you – this dinner was fantastic.  It’s a celebration of all that’s wonderful in the late summer – the beautifully ripe tomatoes, the fresh sweet corn, and warm and homey enough for the new coolness of the evenings.


This recipe serves four – and since there are just three of us, there was a serving leftover – yay!



1. kayatthekeyboard - September 8, 2011

Oh, honey. Let me talk to you about grits. Grits are sublime. If you really want to experience grits the way God meant grits to be consumed, order you some of the Real Thing from http://www.wareaglemill.com, set aside an hour to cook ’em, and don’t forget to stir in cheese! Whatever you don’t eat at first can be poured into a casserole dish and refrigerated overnight, whereupon they can be cut in squares and fried in hot-hot-hot oil until they’re crispy on the outside. Either, with shrimp in a tasso cream sauce over them, would suit me Just Fine as my last meal on this planet! (Note: Can you tell I’m, well, kinda Southern?)

Um, well, yeah, I was almost afraid to see what you had to say about my making light of The Sacred Grit. 😉 I know you can tell tell I’m definitely a Midwestern Yankee? 😆

kayatthekeyboard - September 8, 2011

But, yeah. Polenta. Except coarser.

Close enough for jazz. . . 😉

2. judy - September 9, 2011

Sounded good to me and those tomatoes are so beautiful! Enjoy every bite!

Jude, you know I’m enjoying the heck out of my tomatoes – the leaves are starting to die back now, and I can’t tell you how sad it makes me that they won’t be here much longer.

3. The Innkeeper's Daughter - September 9, 2011

I am with kathy, mmmmm grits. I am also going to give you a place to order them from, theirs only take 40 or so minutes, and like Kathy,cheese pls. I go northern here for some Cabot sharp cheddar, top with some NO BBQ shrimp. OMG, and I am only southern around the French edges…

http://www.noramill.com/store/index.php Oh and if you are ever anywhere near Helen GA, stop into this amazing historic, working mill to see the operations, totally cool, especially if you get one of the main guys to talk you through it.

Super,thanks. I’ll absolutely keep both your and Kay’s sources in mind (thanks for sharing!). I don’t see myself heading for Georgia anytime soon, though, but I’d definitely love a tour if I ever do!

The Innkeeper's Daughter - September 9, 2011

ps, tomatoes look great!


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