Cheesy Grits with Asparagus, Fennel and Mushrooms

You can also make this recipe with polenta, but it will of course have a completely different texture.

Trim the greens from 2-3 fennel bulbs and cut them into large pieces.  Reserve the bulbs.

 

Bring 5 3/4 C. water to a boil and salt generously.  Add the fennel greens and1/2 C. dried shitake or porcini mushrooms.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon and reserve.  Remove the fennel greens and discard.

 

Whisk 1 C. stoneground grits into the pot.  Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for one hour, until the grits form a creamy porridge.  Add 1 C. gruyere cheese and stir until dissolved.  Season with salt and pepper.

 

While the grits are cooking, thinly slice fennel bulbs to make 2 C.  Thinly slice spring onion (white parts) to make 2 C.  Reserve the leaves.

 

Heat 3 T. olive oil in a large skillet and saute the onions and fennel together over low heat until just barely brown — about 15 minutes.

 

Trim 1 bunch of asparagus and cut into 1 inch pieces, slicing the thickest stems in half lengthwise.  Wash 4 C. spinach leaves.

 

Add the mushrooms and the asparagus to the pan along with 1/2 C. white wine and raise the heat.  Saute until the asparagus is tender but not mushy.  Add the spinach and cook until wilted, a minute or two.

 

Serve the grits topped with a sprinkling of finely chopped spring onion leaves and dollop of the vegetables.

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