Kidney Beans and Grits

A few weeks ago I cooked a pot of small red beans. I really thought kidney beans were more or less the same thing, but I was wrong. Kidney beans cook up much larger and mine did not hold their shape as well as the small red beans. I cooked a half pound of beans in my small crock pot, on the low setting. I checked them after about three hours and they were falling apart. As it turned out, that wasn’t a big problem. The recipes that I used this week didn’t demand a perfectly formed bean!

I also cooked grits. I had a box of 3 Minute Brand Quick Grits. Husband, who once lived in South Georgia, told me that quick grits are no good. I needed to get the regular, slow cooking variety. But my store only had quick grits. So that’s what we used. I did not cook the grits at the beginning of the week. I cooked them on the evening that we first planned to eat them because I wanted a bowl of soft, porridge-like grits. More about that later.

Even though I live in Texas, I think that I have only had grits once or twice in my life. Maybe grits are more of a “Deep South” thing. My Aunt Billie once served a grits casserole that was delicious. I asked her for the recipe. It called for a stick of butter and about a half cup of grits, among other things. It was more like a butter casserole than a grits casserole. I never could bring myself to cook that. But her version sure was tasty.

So here is how our week went down:

Day One – Mexican Style Bean Casserole. I took my inspiration from a book called “Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen”.  There is a recipe for a layered tortilla casserole. I started by making a roasted tomato salsa, but you could certainly use a store-bought salsa. In a 8 x 8 baking dish I layered salsa, corn tortillas, semi-mashed kidney beans, sliced green olives and cheddar cheese. I made 3 layers, topped it with a layer of corn tortillas, salsa and cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes until bubbly. Serve with salad and salsa.

This was really good. And it tasted great the next day for lunch. Husband liked this alot!

Day Two – Cheesy, buttery grits. Using the package directions, I cooked a cup of grits with 4 cups of water, and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, stir in the grits, reduce the heat. Cook for 5-7 minutes more, stirring frequently.

The grits that we were planning to eat that evening, I left in the pot. The ones that we would save for later, I separated out. I’ll explain more about that shortly.

To the pot of grits that we planned to eat right away, I added a chunk of butter and some grated cheddar cheese. I served the grits with some slightly soupy kidney beans and some oven roasted broccoli. And of course, some Tabasco.

Those grits were good!! I am a convert. They seemed softer than polenta. They were very white in color. Just delicious!

Buttery Cheesy Grits

Day Three – Tacos for lunch. I put together some tacos using kidney beans, grated cheese, sliced cabbage and carrots, and salsa. It was a simple meal to put together. It was tasty and satisfying.

Bean and Cheese Taco

Day Four – Quesadillas. More Tex-Mex?  Well, that is the type of food that I like. And the kidney beans seemed to lend themselves to it. I mashed up some kidney beans so that they were similar to refried beans. On one half of a large flour tortilla, I layered mashed beans and grated cheese. Heat up a  a large skillet that has been lightly sprayed with olive oil. Lay the tortilla out flat with the bean and cheese side up. When it has started to heat through, you can fold the tortilla in half  creating the quesadilla. Brown on both side and serve hot.

I served the quesadilla with a tomatillo salsa, some sour cream and a bit of chopped lettuce.  Tasted great and so simple to make.


Day Five – Fried Grits with Marinara. OK, on Day Two when I separated out the grits for later consumption, I actually poured the warm grits into a lightly oiled mini-muffin pan. I wanted to fry the grit patties and I thought that if I put them in a muffin tin they would be uniform size and shape. That was an excellent idea.

Grits in a Muffin Tin

I dredged the patties in flour that had been seasoned with garlic salt and paprika. I would have never thought to dredge these in flour but I found a recipe that said that was the way to go. I put a thin layer of oil in a non-stick frying pan and sauteed the grit patties until they were nicely browned on both sides.

Frying Grit Patties

I put some marinara sauce in the bottom of a 8 x 8 baking pan. Put the browned grits on top of that and then topped with mozzarella cheese. I baked that in a 350 degree oven until the sauce was bubbly and the cheese was melted and browned.

Fried Grits with Marinara - The photo doesn't do it justice!

The grits tasted great. I served all this with salad and warm bread and some additional marinara to add at the table. I would definitely make that again.

Recap – What did I learn this week? Grits are good. I am going to find more ways to get grits into my menus. And I will try them for breakfast sometime.

Kidney beans are a good addition to my Tex-Mex repertoire. They were a nice change from the pinto beans that I usually use in those dishes.


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