I set out to make a vegetarian version of creole shrimp and grits that's just as good or better than the original. The artichoke hearts are a perfect stand-in for the shrimp as they are
region-appropriate. The truth is that I could talk about this dish all day long, and I still couldn't convey to you how delicious it is. Each component is wonderful on its own: the smokiness of the cheddar grits, the spicy heat of the vegetables, the crunch of the artichoke. It all comes together when all these flavors are woven together with a simple mustard sauce. This is perfect dish to make for company...but you may want to keep it all to yourself.
Smoked Cheddar Grits
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups milk
1 cup yellow corn grits
4 cloves garlic (minced)
2 cups smoked cheddar (I used white goat cheddar, but any smoked cheddar will do)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Bring the stock and milk to a boil together in a saucepan. Add the grits slowly as you stir so there are no lumps. Add the garlic, cover, and allow the mixture to cook on low for twenty minutes stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Stir in the cheddar, salt, and pepper.
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 ear of corn (kernels cut away)
1 green pepper (diced)
1/2 cup okra (1/4-inch sliced)
1/2 cup peas (field peas or lady peas)
1 cup shallot (small dice)
scant dash of cayenne
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, nutmeg, salt, pepper
Heat butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Toss remaining ingredients together. Once the butter and oil begin to smoke, add the vegetable mixture. Allow it to cook for a minute, then toss. Allow it to cook for an other minute then toss it again. Remove vegetables from the pan but leave any charred bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. You will use this in the following pan sauce recipe.
Spicy Mustard Pan Sauce
3/4 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon creole mustard
Add stock and mustard to the pan used to cook the succotash. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any bits that stuck to the bottom of the pan. Over medium heat, reduce sauce by half. Set aside.
Pan-Fried Artichoke Hearts
1/3 cup canola oil
3 quartered artichoke hearts (make your own or use the large ones from the olive bar)
1 egg (beaten)
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
If making your own artichoke hearts, blanch in acidulated, salted water for 10 minutes or until just tender. In a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, heat oil until it shimmers. Toss artichoke hearts in the egg and then in the flour. Shake off any excess flour. Pan fry the artichoke hearts for two to three minutes per side or until golden brown. Add salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, spoon a cup of grits onto a warmed plate. Top with a half-cup of succotash and 3 pieces of pan-fried artichoke. Drizzle a spoonful of Spicy Mustard Pan Sauce around the plate. Garnish with chopped parsley and fresh dill. (This recipe makes four servings.)