Shrooms and Grits is a vegetarian take on the southern classic Shrimp and Grits. Creamy, cheesy stone-ground grits loaded with wild mushrooms and drizzled with spicy cajun oil.
Kenneth (my husband) decided to do his own 30-day vegan challenge last month to test new recipes. So with a house stocked with fresh veggies, I found myself doing vegetarian takes on many of my favorite dishes like converting Shrimp & Grits to my recipe for Cajun Shrooms & Grits.
My grandma always said if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. So I started this recipe off using Kenneth’s old faithful grits recipe. It’s so easy and results in perfectly creamy grits every time. Then I decided to roast mushrooms in order to draw out their moisture and impart flavor with all the Cajun spices on their crispy exterior.
I made a quick infused oil by cooking down the southern trinity, onions, bell peppers, and celery and then adding oil and lots of spices smoked paprika to hone in on those Cajun flavors cayenne pepper, red chili flakes, and cumin.
Then I toss my mushrooms in the spice-infused oil before I put them on my creamy bed of grits.
Sounds spicy, right? I’m not gonna lie because it is and it’s that good kinda spicy. The kind that catches you off guard after like the third bite. These Cajun Shrooms & Grits are so good and worth the burn but you aren’t into kinky stuff like that; you obviously skip the oil.
This is just one of the amazing recipes represented in this year’s Black History Month Virtual Potluck. In our 4th year of the potluck, we are here, and this year I wanted to truly challenge participants to learn more about our food traditions. And while plant-based diets seem to a popular trend now, our history shows Black American slaves were early agriculturalists manning farms and incorporating mostly plant-based rations in their diets.
How to make Vegetarian Shrimp & Grits, aka Shrooms & Grits?
First off, you’re in the right place! You’ll want to prepare all three components of your Vegetarian Shrimp and Grits first, then assemble your bowl. Using a nonstick skillet, heat onion, celery, and bell pepper, approximately 5 minutes, add spices, and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
Add oil, let simmer, and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the sliced mushrooms, olive oil, garlic, kosher, cajun seasoning, salt, pepper, thyme sprigs. Place on parchment paper and roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. When the mushrooms are golden and cooked, remove the thyme sprigs.
In a medium-size pot, bring water, cream, salt, and butter to a boil. Whisk in grits for approx 5 minutes, reduce heat to low, and cover for 10-15 minutes. After grits reach your desired consistency, add additional salt and pepper to taste.
What type of mushrooms to use?
You can use any type of mushrooms you prefer. But here are a few to get you thinking: Shiitake, Maitake, King Oyster, Cremini, and even Portobello. I used an assortment of mushrooms in this Vegetarian Shrimp and Grits recipe.
What are grits?
Grits is a warm porridge type of dish made from boiled cornmeal typically eaten at breakfast. However, I believe, and everyone else here in the south probably would agree, that grits can be enjoyed any time of day. Some people believe sugar should be added to grits, while folks that object believe that salt is the way to go. Cheese can also be added for delicious cheesy grits.
Stone grits vs quick grits?
The difference between stone grits and quick grits is the granulation. Quick grits take less time to cook because they are ground much finer than Stone grits, which have a medium grind.
Tips for creamy grits?
According to KC’s amazing Grits recipe, the secret is the heavy whipping cream. Heavy Cream or Whipping Cream yields more fat content than milk, which in turn creates more of a creamy texture in dishes.
What makes it Cajun?
For this recipe, the delicious Cajun spices used made this dish very Cajun and gave it a wonderful spice from the cayenne pepper, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Cajun seasoning is used throughout Louisiana in southern dishes, and this southern-style vegetarian shrimp and grits are no different.
I am a soul food lover but didn’t know much about its evolution. I have my husband to thank for that, a southern boy through and through. He never skips a chance to acknowledge pay homage to Black American contributions steeped in West African and Caribbean food traditions.
Perhaps a tradition born our resourcefulness, nevertheless, the rich evolution of Black American foodways has shaped American cooking. And each year that I conduct this potluck I am given an opportunity to dig a little bit deeper into our food roots.
Take some time to check out the recipes of the other super talented bloggers who are participating in this year’s Black History Month Virtual Potluck below.
Black History Month Virtual Potluck
29 recipes vegan/vegetarian recipes from black food bloggers for Black History Month
- ½ cup grapeseed oil
- ¼ yellow onion diced (½ cup)
- ½ red bell pepper diced (⅓ cup)
- 2 stalks of celery diced (½ cup)
- 2½ teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper Flakes
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon cumin pinch
- 1½ lbs Assorted mushrooms cleaned and sliced
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
- ¼ cup grapeseed oil
- 6 garlic cloves smashed and chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1½ tablespoon cajun seasoning
- 2½ cups vegetable stock low sodium
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup stone-ground grits
- kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- ½ cup green onions sliced
- fresh flat-leaf parsley finely chopped
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes to get hot. Adding onion, celery, and bell pepper until all moisture is cooked out approximately 5 minutes.
- Stir in all spices and reduce heat to medium-low for 3 minutes
- Stir in oil and let simmer until it reaches 200-degree temp and then remove from the heat and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- In a large bowl, combine the sliced mushrooms, olive oil, garlic, kosher, cajun seasoning, salt, pepper, thyme sprigs.
- Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.
- When the mushrooms are golden and cooked, remove the thyme sprigs.
- Bring water, cream, salt and butter to a boil. Whisk in grits for approx 5 minutes, reduce heat to low and cover for 10-15 minutes.
- After grits reach your desired consistency add additional salt and pepper to taste.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.
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