There's nothing quite like the savory combination of broccoli and cheese, and thankfully, it's usually one that kiddos enjoy too. These Bite-Size Broccoli and Cheese Grits are a great make-ahead meal idea that are perfect for little hands.
I've had a package of stone-ground grits in my pantry for a while and I almost never think to use them. But recently, as I struggled to think of a easy-to-eat carbohydrates to offer my 16 month old—that were not crackers or dry cereal—I thought of them. Since T loves oatmeal, either warm and soft or chilled and slightly firm, I thought it was likely that she'd enjoy grits. And by letting them sit and firm up a bit, I could even pack this recipe in her lunches!
I should say that I am not a Southerner, so I tend to take some liberties when I cook grits, please don't hold that against me. (If you are a classic when it comes to the ingredient and like to cook yours a certain way, you could always switch to polenta!) When they're cooking, you do need to stay nearby to the stove to whisk regularly to prevent them from sticking. If you keep the heat low enough so that they just bubble slightly, the chances of this will be reduced and you'll be sure to have a soft, and creamy final result.
I used a little leftover steamed broccoli both times I made this recipe, but you could use frozen, thawed if you want. Just be sure to mostly use the florets since they will be most tender. You can always try cooked cauliflower florets or thawed frozen peas instead and change up the cheese if you'd like. Fontina, mozzarella, or even shredded Parmesan should all work fine.
It took T two tries to really get into these, but then she was a fan. And one time when I served them to the whole family, I quickly pan-fried them in a little butter first in a nonstick pan to crisp up the edges. Let's just say that everyone was happy!
Broccoli and Cheese Grits
You can double this to feed a family of 4 and you can serve them warm straight out of the pot or firmed up, depending on your preference.
Makes 4-6 baby/toddler servings
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup grits
- 1/2 cup finely chopped and fully cooked broccoli florets
- 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Bring 1 cup water and the milk to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce to a low simmer and add the grits. Whisk regularly to prevent sticking until the liquid is absorbed, or about 15-20 minutes. (The timing might vary depending on your grits.) Stir in the broccoli, cheese, and salt. Serve or portion into greased silicone molds and let sit for at least 20 minutes or overnight. Serve chilled or slightly warmed.
Use polenta instead of grits.
Try cooked cauliflower or thawed peas in place of broccoli.
Add a little chopped ham to the mix.
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