Roasted Jalapeno Cheesy Grits Glutenfree VeganCreamy, cheesy grits with a smoky jalapeño bite give you the flavor of New Orleans. And I had to go to Honolulu to taste them!

We were fortunate enough to have our vacation coincide not only with Mealani’s Taste of the Hawai’ian Range, but also the first Hawai’i Food and Wine Festival. Both events had similar goals: to feature local, sustainable Hawai’ian foods and support the local food industry. This event brought in celebrity chefs from the mainland who are known for supporting and sourcing local foods.
Chef at Hawai'i Food and Wine Festival 2011The event we attended as guests of the festival was the final evening, “From Mauka to Makai—Hawai’i’s Sustainable Future.” It featured fifteen chefs as well as local wineries, and the event benefited the Hawai’i Agricultural Foundation and the Culinary Institute of the Pacific. (I loved seeing some of the culinary students at work during this event.) A special thanks to Candice Lee Kraughto for arranging our passes.
Last Sunset at Hawai'i Food and Wine Festival 2011The location was the great lawn at the Hilton Hawai’ian Village, and we had a beautiful sunset to enjoy. As you can imagine, the event was super-crowded, and I suspect next year they will need to find a larger space. The Hubs and I enjoyed tasting many of the plates. The goat cheese ice cream from Surfing Goat Dairy was amazing (goat cheese, cow’s milk, sugar, and lemon). He loved the coffee station and I especially enjoyed the gourmet chocolates made from Hawai’ian cacao beans by Philippe Padovani; that man is a genius with chocolate!

Many of the chefs were great about plating something without the meat for me, and checking whether items were gluten-free. I would love to see events like these (it’s true in San Diego too) be more aware of gluten intolerances and ask the chefs to indicate which of their plates are gluten-free in advance and on signage. It’s difficult at a crowded event to ask for special plating; you don’t want to hold up the line.
Chef John Besh
My favorite dish was this side by Chef John Besh of Besh Restaurant Group in New Orleans. I asked him if he would share the recipe, which he kindly did. My renovated version is below his, and is vegan as well. Enjoy!

Jalapeño Cheese Grits
From My New Orleans: The Cookbook by John Besh/Andrews McMeel Publishing
Used with permission
Serves 6-8

1 C. stone-ground white corn grits
1 jalapeño pepper
3 T. butter
2 T. mascarpone or cream cheese
1/4 C. grated Edam cheese
Salt

Heat 4 cups of water in a large heavy-bottomed pot over high heat until it comes to a boil. Slowly pour in the grits while whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for about 20 minutes.

While the grits are cooking, pan-roast the jalapeño pepper in a small skillet over high heat until the skin is brown and blistered. Cut the pepper in half lengthwise and remove the skin and the seeds from the pepper and discard. Mince the flesh and add it to the pot of grits.

Remove the pot from the heat and fold in the butter, mascarpone, and Edam cheese. Season with salt.

How to make cashew cream
Makes about 1-1/2 cups
1 C. (125 g) raw cashews
2 T. (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 t. (3 g) kosher or sea salt

Soak the cashews in filtered water for at least four hours. Rinse and drain. Put the cashews in the blender with the other ingredients and 1/4 C. (60 ml) filtered water. Blend on high speed about 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender to get everything incorporated into a smooth, thick paste.

How to use cashew cream
Substitute cashew cream for the same amount of:
cream cheese or mascarpone in jalapeño cheese grits
ricotta in lasagne
cream cheese or ricotta in cheesecake
heavy cream in soup

All of our recipes are gluten-free, sugar-free, and made with plant-based ingredients to help you build a healthy life. Look for midweek posts on meditation, service, and life lessons, helping you create inner balance.

Roasted Jalapeno Cheesy Grits Glutenfree Vegan

Roasted jalapeño cheese grits

My take on John Besh's recipe for roasted jalapeño cheesy grits.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup corn grits (white, stone-ground) stone-ground polenta
  • 1-2 jalapeño
  • 3 tbsp cashew cream or heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance vegan margarine (use unsalted butter for low-sodium diet)
  • 1/4 cup cheese (30 g) Daiya cheese, mascarpone or ricotta
  • 2-3 tsp sea salt (omit for low-sodium diets)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Heat 4 cups (1 L) of water in a large heavy-bottomed pot over high heat until boils. Slowly pour in the grits while whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for about 20 minutes.
  • While the grits are cooking, turn on the broiler. Wash the pepper, cut off the top, and make one slit down the side. Scrape out the seeds and the ribs, and flatten with a spatula. Press the pepper, skin side up, onto a piece of heavy foil, and broil until the entire skin is black and blistered. Using tongs, drop it into a paper bag, close the bag, and let cool.
  • When the pepper is cool enough to handle, remove the skin (it can be composted). Mince the pepper and add it to the pot of grits.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and add 2 t. of the salt (if using) and whisk thoroughly. Stir in the margarine or butter, cashew cream or cream, and cheese. Taste again, and season with additional cracked black pepper and more salt if needed.

Notes

Per serving, analyzed with salt, Daiya, Earth Balance, and soy creamer:
  • 69 calories
  • 6 g fat
  • 2 g saturated fat
  • 1 g monounsaturated fat
  • 1 g polyunsaturated fat
  • 0 g trans fat
  • 5 g cholesterol
  • 831 mg sodium (0 mg sodium with salt omitted)
  • 17 mg potassium
  • 5 g carbohydrate
  • 1 g fiber
  • 0 g sugars
  • 1 g protein
  • 3 Weight Watchers Points Plus
Per serving, analyzed without salt, with unsalted butter, cream, mascarpone:
  • 85 calories
  • 7 g fat
  • 5 g saturated fat
  • 0 g monounsaturated fat
  • 0 g polyunsaturated fat
  • 0 g trans fat
  • 24 g cholesterol
  • 5 mg sodium
  • 17 mg potassium
  • 3 g carbohydrate
  • 0 g fiber
  • 0 g sugars
  • 1 g protein
  • 2 Weight Watchers Points Plus