Fat Tuesday

There was a period of time in my life when every Tuesday was a fat Tuesday.  This was my fat phase.  But with some encouragement, I was able to get my weight under control with some daily practices that I still adhere to.  And I adhere to it on my own schedule and I choose when these daily practices are going to happen.  Control is key.

To celebrate Fat Tuesday, I thought I would put my twist on a Southern classic: Shrimp and Grits.  My version of it was more of a “Cajun Chick Peas and Polenta.”  I am exiting an exam week plus a long weekend that I was out of town for, meaning my pantry and refrigerator are pretty bare right now, so this ended up being the perfect dish to both utilize the pantry staples that I have and use up the last of the fresh ingredients before heading to the grocery store tonight.  Not to mention it helped me put off studying for a bit longer, which is always a plus in my book.

It made for a killer dinner last night, and an even more killer lunch today, which I enjoyed outside in a tank top because it is in the 70s in Berkeley today.

Ok, this picture doesn’t actually portray my lunch,  I am just showing off how I enjoyed the gorgeous weather today.  Ya, I have some tan lines.
If I had a more fully stocked fridge, I probably would have added more veggies to this dish, and most certainly would have served it with a side of braised collard greens or kale.  So that is something I highly encourage you do!  But this dish was hard hitting on every note: the acid from the tomatoes, the salt and flavor from the spice mix, the heartiness from the chick peas, and the fat from the cheesy polenta.  I have no idea if it is even close to traditional shrimp and grits, for I have never had it… all I know is that it was delicious and definitely something I will be making again, and something I think you should be making too!  

Cajun Chick Peas and Grits

Materials:
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk (mine was vanilla flavored, which I think added to the flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable stock concentrate
  • 1 cup corn grits/polenta (not the instant kind)
  • olive oil
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon italian blend
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 cup diced tomato (I chopped up an assortment of small heirloom tomatoes)
  • 1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano cheese

Methods:
  1. Bring the water, almond milk, and vegetable stock concentrate to a boil in a large saucepan.
  2. Slowly whisk in the grits and make sure they are evenly dispersed in the liquid.
  3. Turn down to a simmer, and let cook for about 30 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking.
  4. In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Add the green onions, garlic, and spices and sauté for a couple of minutes.
  6. Add the tomatoes and chick peas.
  7. Keep the heat at medium-high to let the juices from the tomatoes reduce.
  8. Turn down to a simmer and let all of it stew together until the grits are done (mmm, stew… my new favorite :-)).
  9. Once the grits are done, stir in the cheese until it is all creamy.
  10. Plate a healthy amount of the grits, and spoon the cajun chick peas over it.
  11. Enjoy!

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