Food + Drink

Savory grits & collard greens.


As a New York vegan Scandi-Jew who’s never set foot south of Maryland, I fully realize I have no business even uttering the words “grits” and “collard greens”, much less posting a recipe for them. I apologize in advance for what I know is a complete bastardization of two traditional soul food staples.

The fact of the matter is, though, this breakfast is vegan, relatively healthy, and really, really yummy. Like, ridiculously so. Evan and I both wanted second helpings as soon as we’d finished, and I think I’m going to make this again tomorrow morning. And maybe for dinner one night during the week. SO GOOD.

Southern Americans, you may wish to avert your eyes…

Serves 2

3/4 cup water
3/4 unsweetened, unflavored soy milk (almond or rice milk are also fine)
dash salt
1/2 cup corn grits/polenta (NOT instant—see photo below)
1 tbsp Earth Balance
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
freshly-ground black pepper
hot sauce (I like Cholula)

In a small pot, bring the water, soy milk and salt to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and whisk in the grits. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low. Stir in the Earth Balance, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and onion powder. Turn heat off, cover, and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Serve with ground pepper and hot sauce to taste.

Serves 2

1/2 bunch collard greens
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp Earth Balance
2 cloves garlic, minced
dash salt

Wash and dry the collard greens well. Trim out the center stalk. Stack the leaves and cut into strips.

Heat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and Earth Balance (reduce the heat if necessary to prevent smoking), then toss in your greens and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and sautée until tender, about 10 minutes.

→ If you’re cooking both dishes (they taste GREAT together, so I recommend making both!), start cooking the collard greens right after you add the grits to the boiling water/soy milk.
→ Next time, I’ll probably double the amount of collard greens. The recipe is enough for the amount in the photo, but I like a lot of greens—even at breakfast.
→ Don’t buy instant grits or pre-made polenta. You’re looking for dry polenta/corn grits—see below:


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  • Reply Lori February 20, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    that looks delicious! I will try it for sure

  • Reply LeeAnn February 20, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    For a different take on polenta, add smoked jalapeños while cooking on the stove top. So delicious!

  • Reply jennifer February 20, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    oh, yes, this is one of my favorite vegan breakfasts! I like to sautee FieldRoast vegan italian sausages with sweet onions and oven roasted tomatoes and put them over the grits. swirl a little honey on top of it all. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    • Anna @ D16 February 20, 2011 at 8:39 pm

      Field Roast is amazing, isn’t it?!

    • Vicki @ Piccolo Takes All February 21, 2011 at 7:21 am

      Field Roast Italian Sausages are by far the best of any veggie version I’ve tried. And their chipotle sausages are a great chorizo-alternative sliced up and added to Cuban black beans or crumbled into veggie chili or tofu scramble (for breakfast burritos!). Okay, now I’m getting hungry…

  • Reply Karrie February 20, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    I’m southern and I think it sounds delicious!

  • Reply Jenny February 20, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Excuse my ignorance – what are collard greens? Spinach?
    also, what is Earth Balance? And does nutritional yeast taste cheesy? I don’t like cheese – which is makign being vegan much easier!

    Loved the sweet potato hash recipe, so am going to try this one too!

    • Anna @ D16 February 20, 2011 at 9:12 pm

      Collard greens are MUCH more “durable” than spinach—they’re a heavy leafy green. If you can’t get them where you live, you could try using kale, mustard greens, or Swiss chard.

      Earth Balance is a vegan butter substitute that doesn’t have any hydrogenated oils/trans-fats like margarine does. It has a flavor that’s very similar to butter and is great for cooking/baking. I’m sure there are other options outside of the US.

      Nutritional yeast is often used as an ingredient in vegan cheese sauces, but it’s not exactly “cheesy” itself. It’s sort of a nutty-Parmesan-ish taste, very savory/umame.

  • Reply AB February 20, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    There you go, girl! Looks good to me.

  • Reply Danyelle February 20, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    I cook this all the time. I like to add some lemon and red pepper flakes to my greens because I like the spice. You could also make this a dinner by adding a can of diced tomatoes.

  • Reply cajeta February 20, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    i luv collard greens, black eyed peas, and garlicky corn mush! BTW, peeps coming into town from LAX there is a fantastic vegan soulfood restaurant in the LA/Inglewood area!

  • Reply Jennifer February 20, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    looks delish! I’m from NC and good food is good food, so you have just as much business posting about southern food as anybody else. I’ll be trying this soon!

  • Reply beth February 20, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    As a born and bred Southerm belle, I gotta tell you that “corn grits” are not real grits. Grits are made from hominy, not corn 🙂 It looks yummy, though. Keep up the good work. I’ve tried a number of your recipes and really like them!

    • Anna @ D16 February 20, 2011 at 10:29 pm

      Beth, we Yankees distinguish between corn grits (which we usually just call polenta) and hominy grits. We do what we have to. 😉

    • Jenny February 21, 2011 at 10:48 am

      Bob’s Red Mill has led you – and so many others – astray! You made polenta, which is coarsely ground cornmeal. Delicious and satisfying, easy to make, incredibly adaptable, and not too far from grits – I think of it as Italy’s grits. But it’s not grits and if you served this to any Southerner worth her salt, she would not recognize this as grits. Grits are either: 1) corn grits, which include the hull and the germ of the grain or – as beth says above – 2) hominy grits. More here:

      Far and away my favorite grits are stone-ground (a bit more work because they generally need to be washed and take 30-60 minutes to cook – but SO worth it. I won’t even touch the grocery-store stuff any more). Wonderful Atlanta-based chef Virginia Willis launched a line of a few food products last year, and heirloom stone-ground grits are among them: I’ve never seen any manufacturer besides Bob’s Red Mill sell cornmeal and call it grits…it’s always been quite confusing to me. I guess they figure most folks won’t know the difference. And they get to produce one product and market it as two.

      Regardless, I am impressed that you went for it and the meal looks *really* yummy! Pepper vinegar is the traditional Southern condiment for collards, but Cholula is damn good and I love that you used it! (And PS, Field Roast sausages are the best!)

    • Anna @ D16 February 21, 2011 at 11:03 am

      Hi Jenny, I know (see my earlier reply to Beth) — but like I said, this is a non-traditional take on true Southern grits.

  • Reply Kim February 20, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    I have never in my life had collared greens or grits(I’m from Pennsylvania!) but those grits look seriously good, and I’m a fan of vegetables in general so I’d be willing to try the greens as well.

  • Reply kris February 20, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    I’m a Georgia Girl. I approve of this post. 🙂

    (with the exception of the yeast)

    • Anna @ D16 February 20, 2011 at 10:27 pm

      The nutritional yeast (very different from baking yeast!) just gives the grits a cheesy flavor. 🙂

  • Reply Maggie February 20, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    ha, so thats what grits are… Polenta! thanks for enlightening me.

  • Reply karen February 21, 2011 at 2:16 am

    as someone who’s more or less southern (i’m an army brat, but my family is from virginia & georgia), i think you’ve done a lovely job. if only southerners were allowed to make grits that would be a very sad thing.

  • Reply Vanessa February 21, 2011 at 3:52 am

    Looks delicious! This would go great with the sweet potato drop biscuits from the Appetite for Reduction cookbook. If you haven’t tried those yet, they’re a must! I’m embarrassed to admit that I ate nearly an entire batch of them by myself yesterday…

  • Reply Cristina February 21, 2011 at 6:25 am

    Nice food!
    Polenta is my regional (Veneto-Italy;-) food! Always so good!!
    I love it with melted cheese (gorngonzola) especially.

    (a silent follower since ages;-)

  • Reply PhillyLass February 21, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Looks delicious. Is that gravy drizzled on top?

    BTW, Anna, I finally got around to trying your veggie chili recipe last week and it was awesome! It’ll definitely be one of my heavy-rotation recipes. Even my non-veggie parents loved it!

    • Anna @ D16 February 21, 2011 at 10:32 am

      That’s hot sauce—Cholula! 🙂

  • Reply elizabeth February 21, 2011 at 10:57 am

    As a native Tennessean I approve this. I love all of the cultural differences represented here – it tickles me that people don’t know what collards are. It’s just something we take for granted here.

    • Anna @ D16 February 21, 2011 at 11:07 am

      I’ve found that unless folks are from the South or New York (where we have a lot of Southern transplants), they have NO idea what collards are! I’ve eaten them all my life—I had no idea that you can’t even buy them at the supermarket in much of the rest of the country. They’re so good!

      It’s the same with okra. Even in New York, it’s hard to find it not canned or frozen.

    • Jill February 22, 2011 at 3:30 pm

      re: okra — except in Caribbean neighborhoods! Fresh okra is all over my ‘hood in Crown Heights. Literally all the bodegas carry it. (Also: West Indian curried okra? Heavenly.)

  • Reply elizabeth February 21, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Mmmmm…. grits.

  • Reply kelly w February 21, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I thought the plate actually had those words printed on it and went, ‘oh, that’s COOL!’ 🙂

  • Reply Kate February 21, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    “Scandi-Jew” is my favorite part of this post.

    It looks delish!

  • Reply Patrice February 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    You get a major pass girl! Those collards look beyond yumlicious, and I never knew polenta was the same as grits! I learn something new every time I visit your blog:D

  • Reply Amanda February 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    looove this. I just made it for lunch and my fiance and I both nearly licked our plates clean. I made a larger batch of greens though (and I use a sliced onion and red pepper flakes in my recipe though it’s pretty much the same). I calculated the points for weight watchers and the polenta comes to 6 points if you divide it into two servings in case anyone was wondering!

  • Reply Toni February 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    I have never tried grits or collard greens. Maybe it is because I am Canadian…that’s a valid excuse, right? Anyways, you have inspired me to consider giving it a go! Thanks!

  • Reply michelle February 21, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    this looks so good! i’ve been on a big grits kick lately! the instant kind are a great source of iron, but i definitely need to try this. i do love me some cholula 🙂

  • Reply nanne February 21, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    as a bizillionth generation alabamian, i am so glad to see a new yorker appreciating grits and greens!!! grits and collards are both delicious together and seperately.

    for non vegans…throw some shrimp sauted in olive oil or butter and garlic on that G & G…a little smoked gouda or cheddar would complete the dish.

    nanne in indiana by way of alabama

  • Reply the gardeners cottage February 21, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    hi. i just found your blog and i love it. a vegan who loves to decorate? who knew.


  • Reply Sara February 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Yum, Southern Food is awesome. You would be amazed how many Southern dishes are veggie-based. Sugar-ridden and often cooked with ham hocks, but lots of veggies, ha.

    Next time you venture into collards, try tossing a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in with the water… even better, use veggie broth instead of water. Ah-maz-ing.

    • Anna @ D16 February 21, 2011 at 8:20 pm

      Sara, I actually like to sautée my collards very quickly in a pan with NO water at all—just a bit of olive oil and butter sub. I don’t like the way they taste when they’re stewed or cooked for a long time. I know that’s sacrilege!

  • Reply Tunage February 22, 2011 at 6:42 am

    Love the font on the photo! What is it?


  • Reply Sezgi Uygur February 22, 2011 at 8:03 am

    Hey Anna,
    did you see the new ikea stockholm lamps:
    do they remind you of anything?

    • Anna @ D16 February 22, 2011 at 9:41 am

      I think they’re hideous, but I guess it’s a nod to Arne Jacobsen…

  • Reply Down Comforter February 22, 2011 at 10:09 am

    That is so funny that you gave a forwarning of the southerness…looks tasty I’ve have never had the collard greenns or grits but you made it sound so yummy! – Here we go I’m branching out to the the southern world!

  • Reply Laura February 23, 2011 at 8:37 am

    I can only guess if this is vegan, but I love love love a healthy dash of Sriracha (rooster sauce) in my greens. Gotta have a good kick!

  • Reply Pistachio February 23, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Love greens!

  • Reply Dina February 25, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Hi Anna,
    I finally got around to trying this recipe (really…like 20 minutes ago). I make collards pretty regularly, but always boil them prior to sauteeing them. I just thought I was supposed to, thought they’d be tough and chewy otherwise. I did it your way and sooo much better!!! Absolutely delicious!


    • Anna @ D16 February 25, 2011 at 9:54 pm

      Amazing, right? I always see cooking times for collard greens that are 45-50 minutes!! Honestly, I can’t think of ANY green vegetable that I would want to cook for that long!! I can’t believe I use to pre-boil my broccoli raab, too. Why???

      Did you make the grits, too? I think I could eat this meal every day!

  • Reply Dina February 26, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    No, I didn’t make the yummy looking grits, only b/c I had a some grilled tempeh I needed to eat, and I didn’t have the grits on hand.

    Everyday? Yes! I’m the type that finds a favorite and eats it everyday until I can’t look at it anymore. Right now, collards are my drug of choice!

  • Reply Sandra@Botany's February 27, 2011 at 1:16 am

    I had to crack up when I saw this post. I am from NY as well. When I moved down south years and years ago and was introduced to grits, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Now I love collards, but not the southern overcooked way though.
    Now I am in California and not too many people out here in the desert eating grits and collards. LOL

  • Reply JB March 6, 2011 at 10:13 am

    As a raised-in-the-Deep-South, Baptist-with-a-Catholic-bent woman, I can tell you that your Scandi-Jew self has found the holy grail of grits and collards. I read the recipe to my husband last night at 8 o’clock and he insisted on a trip to the co-op for all the necessary ingredients. Just polished off our new, fave breakfast. Thanks!!

    • Anna @ D16 March 6, 2011 at 10:37 am

      Oh, wow! That’s high praise, JB. I know this may not be a a traditional recipe, but I think it’s definitely super-tasty. Glad you and your husband enjoyed it!! 🙂

  • Reply Johanna March 22, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Just wanted to say I made these tonight and they were SO GOOD. My husband is an instant grits lover/maker (and also usually adds cheese of some kind) and was really impressed. Thank you!

    • Anna @ D16 March 22, 2011 at 6:57 pm

      Yay! I think I’m going to make the whole meal tomorrow night.

      Did you try the collards, too?

  • Reply AJ March 22, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    You know, I’ve had the same bag of grits, pictured here, sitting in my pantry for almost 6 months. This might just be the inspiration I need to finally cook them. Looks so yummy!

    • Anna @ D16 March 22, 2011 at 8:34 pm

      You’ll become addicted and need a replacement bag in no time!

  • Reply Molly March 27, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I’m having this for breakfast this morning, and I love it!

  • Reply Lisa June 5, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Two of my favorite foods on earth! Glad you like them. I’ve never had them together. Grits only in am and collards only in pm.

  • Reply tiffany July 12, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    vegan & southern and love this post.. can’t wait to try your recipe for polenta grits.. do you like southern style white grits?? and a big hellloo for bringing grits and greens above the mason-dixon line!

  • Reply Harley May 8, 2012 at 11:58 am

    What a wonderful breakfast this made!!! I really enjoyed it!!! Very delicious!! And the grits were absolutely amazing!! So savory… my mother even enjoyed them 🙂 Thx

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