Roasted Seasonal Vegetables with Cheesy Grits and Poached Eggs

I’m watching last night’s Top Chef while I write this and all I can think about is how many restaurant meals I’ve probably eaten that contain some chubby, bearded guy’s sweat beads, plopped in during his hurried stirring and chopping and whatnot. That, and how much I hate miso. Miso tastes like feet.

IMG_20151201_190003I digress.

In general I’m a sucker for anything that contains “seasonal vegetables” because (a) I’m curious. What is seasonal right now? and (b) somehow the label makes me feel more confident that they’re not, I don’t know, from the freezer? As if you can’t buy seasonal vegetables in a bag? Anyway, I love any excuse to roast brussel sprouts and I’ve been looking to learn to like butternut squash more. Sometimes I just want eggs for dinner. All this to say: these are the ingredients I currently had at my house.

The term “recipe” is a loose one here – it’s more of a method. You can use whatever you’ve got, really, and cook to people’s tastes. For example, my husband likes his roasted veggies just beginning to caramelize and I like mine closer to, say, atomic winter, so I took some out for him and cooked mine longer. Compromise!

Roasted Seasonal Vegetables with Cheesy Grits and Poached Eggs

2 cups brussel sprouts, quartered
1.5 cups butternut squash, 1/2″ dice
15 or so spears of thin asparagus, chopped to 1/2″
1 cup ground grits (*not instant!)
2 cups milk, any fat percentage
1 cup water
1/4 c. butter, or to taste
1 cup shredded cheese (*I used parmesan and Gouda together)
4 eggs
about 1/2 cup plain white vinegar (*optional)
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
apple cider or balsamic vinegar to taste
olive oil
salt
pepper

1.Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking pan with tin foil and spray with cooking spray, then add the butternut squash and brussel sprouts. Toss with about 1 tbsp. of olive oil and salt and pepper – mix with your hands to coat. Pop them in the oven, turning every 12 minutes or so, for about 40 minutes total. (They don’t need to be hot when you serve them.) About 10 minutes before you think they’re done, take the tray out and add the chopped asparagus, tossing to coat in some olive oil.

2. Meanwhile, combine the milk, water, butter, and lots of salt and pepper (about 1 tsp. and 1/2 tsp. respectively, if you want a measurement) in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add grits, bring back to a boil, then reduce and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes or until the grits are cooked through. You’ll need to add more water or milk from time to time to keep it creamy, then at the end again before serving to loosen again. Keep grits warm over the stove.

3. While your grits are cooking, fill a deep skillet about half full of water and add 1 tbsp. salt. Bring to a light boil/heavy simmer over medium heat (i.e. bubbles but not bubbling…you don’t want lava, you want hot tub), then add the white vinegar. This will help the eggs hold together while they poach – science! – but don’t worry, you won’t taste it. Now, get everything else ready to go before you continue…you want to serve this dish as soon as you’re done making it.

IMG_20151201_190616

Egg Jacuzzi.

4. Crack one egg at a time into a small bowl. Dipping half the bowl in the simmering water, drop the egg in slowly. Repeat the process quickly to get all eggs in the water. Depending on how hard you like your yolks, let the eggs poach from about 3-5 minutes each. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel – but don’t let them sit too long! They continue to cook a bit after they’re out and you don’t want hard-boiled eggs.

5. While your eggs are cooking, stir the cheese into the grits until it melts. Spoon the desired amount of grits onto a plate or bowl then top with roasted vegetables and crumbled bacon. Using the slotted spoon, gently place two poached eggs atop each portion. If you like a hit of acid (and you do!), drizzle a little balsamic or apple cider vinegar over the whole portion.

Notes: You really do need the acid touch at the end or this can be a little one-note. i also sprinkle with some kosher salt, too. And try to use a mix of veggies that have different flavors. Brussel sprouts are kind of bitter, butternut squash is sweet, etc. And you don’t need the bacon, perse. This could be a vegetarian dish if you leave it out, but really…use the bacon.

 

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