I’m not sure when it happened, but polenta corn grits have become one of my favorite foods. It’s creamy and comforting, and you can dress up corn grits with different flavors and toppings to suit your fancy for any meal of the day. This vegan polenta corn grits with tempeh, spinach, and tomatoes recipe makes a hearty weekend brunch or a satisfying weeknight dinner.
To be honest, I was feeling a little down when I was cooking and shooting this recipe. How much our moods translate to cooking and eating? Can one off or bad day can potentially ruin a specific dish or a dining experience forever? For example, when I was in college, a boyfriend broke up with me after we had dinner, and I could never bring myself to return to the restaurant where it happened even though there was nothing wrong with the food or service at the restaurant. It was the bad memory that was associated with that meal.
However, in the case of this recipe, after I was all done with photos and ready to dig into this colorful bowl of corn grits with tempeh, I was already starting to feel better. And it was not just because I had checked a project off my to-do list and it was time to eat. I believe it was the process of preparing and capturing this dish that did it for me. Food can be both nourishment and entertainment, and the cooking process can be thoughtful and therapeutic if you allow it to be, rather than viewing it as a chore. A simple, but yummy meal can bring some cheer into your life, and it doesn’t hurt if it’s packed with rich flavor and vibrant colors.
Polenta Corn Grits with Tempeh, Spinach, & Tomatoes
This savory polenta corn grits with tempeh recipe combines creamy vegan grits with wilted spinach, crispy tempeh bacon, and juicy tomatoes. In this recipe, the grits are cooked in the same pan that was used for the tempeh and tomatoes. Not only does that cut down on dishes, but the juices add tasty flavor and a touch of color to the grits. I like stirring some greens into my dishes for the health benefits, and in this polenta dish, the spinach feels right at home among all the other ingredients. Enjoy!
Prep time: 20 minutes | Serves 2
2 oz tempeh, cut into 1/8″ thick strips
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 tbsp vegan butter
1-1/2 cup water
1 cup plant-based milk, divided
1/2 cup polenta corn grits
2 large handfuls of spinach
2 stalks of scallions, chopped
Heat a little of cooking oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the tempeh and soy sauce. Cook each side for 2-3 minutes over high heat until both sides are browned and crispy. Set tempeh aside to cool before cutting into smaller pieces.
Add the tomatoes to the pan. Cook over medium until the tomatoes are softened. Set the tomatoes aside and leave the cooking juices in the pan.
Combine the butter, water, and 1/2 cup milk in the pan. Bring to a boil, then add the polenta corn grits. Reduce to medium heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
Stir in the spinach, scallions (save some of the green parts for garnish), and add the remaining 1/2 cup milk. Continue cooking on low heat, stirring frequently, until the spinach is wilted.
Divide into two serving bowls. Top with tempeh, tomatoes, and the rest of the scallions. Finish with black pepper and a sprinkle of vegan parmesan.
If you’re interested, here are the products I used in this recipe: Tofurky tempeh, Bob’s Red Mill organic polenta corn grits, Earth Balance vegan butter, Simple Truth organic soy milk, and my homemade vegan parmesan.
You’re really making me want to try polenta corn grits now, this recipe looks so good! I love trying new things, especially when they look as delicious as this 😍
Thanks! Hope you give them a try soon. So yummy!
Erin @ Platings and Pairingsat
Holy yum!!! These look super yummy! I love all those cherry tomatoes and the spinach running through them!
Thanks so much, Erin! The cherry tomato juices everywhere… mmm yummm!
I totally agree that the cooking process can be thoughtful and therapeutic! These grits look absolutely creamy and delicious and the tomatoes are mouthwatering.
Thanks Jenni! At first I wasn’t sure if I was wanted tomatoes in this dish, but I’m so glad I decided to include them. Yum!
This sounds like such a great combination of flavors. I can see this being a fantastic side dish in addition to a hearty full meal.
Ooh, that’s a good idea to serve this as a side dish. Thanks Mary!
Catherine @ To & Fro Famat
I’ve never felt excited by grits, but maybe it’s a matter of perspective, like you say here. The tomatoes really do look gorgeous, and the dish does look comforting!
Hope you give grits a try! I never had polenta corn grits until I moved to Portland. I think Bob’s Red Mill is what convinced me to give it a go. :)
YUMMMMMM! This dish looks amazing. I agree that cooking can and should be therapeutic instead of a chore. And totally agree that it mirrors my moods. I am excited to try this veggie dish out. Comfort food year round!
Thanks so much, Breona! And yessss, comfort food all year round. That’s the way to do it!
This looks so delicious and comforting. I totally find that having some creativity and self care in making a good meal can help my mood, too.