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.