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Cauliflower and Pinto Bean Saute
with cheesy grits

Active: 40 min Total: 40 min
For a vegetarian twist on classic shrimp and grits, we saute cauliflower and pinto beans in a blend of spices. The finished dish, served over cheesy grits, has layers of texture and flavor.
Smarts: The grits in this recipe could be made in the Instant Pot. For tips, join the Cook Smarts Instant Pot Facebook Group.


Cauliflower and Pinto Bean Saute:
  • Cauliflower - 1 lb , florets
  • Garlic - 2 cloves , chopped
  • Green onions - 2 stalks , chopped, green and white parts separate
  • Beans, pinto (14 oz / 397 g) - 1 can , drained and rinsed
  • Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
  • Water - 1 Tbsp
  • Baby spinach - 5 oz
  • Paprika, smoked - 1 tsp
  • Cumin, ground - 1/2 tsp
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Lemon juice - 2 tsp
  • Pepitas - 1/4 cup
Cheesy Grits:
  • Water - 3 cups
  • Milk, any type - 1 cup
  • Grits or polenta - 1 cup (look for a more fine ground for quicker cooking)
  • Salt - 1/4 tsp
  • Butter - 3 Tbsp
  • Cheese, shredded Mexican blend - 2 oz


  1. Cauliflower / Garlic - Prep as directed. Store separately. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  2. Green onions - Chop green onions, keeping green and white parts separate.
  3. Beans - Drain and rinse.

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  1. Combine water (portion for grits) and milk in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium heat (watch the pan and adjust the heat because boiled milk will quickly spill over). Add in grits / polenta with salt (portion for grits). Lower heat and simmer 20 to 30 minutes until liquid is all absorbed, stirring occasionally.
  2. While grits are cooking, heat a large saute pan or skillet with oil over medium heat. Add cauliflower and cook until golden brown, turning to cook on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes total. Add water (portion for saute; be careful - it will steam) and cover with a lid. Steam cauliflower, covered, until tender, ~3 minutes.
  3. Remove the lid and stir in baby spinach, white parts of green onions, garlic, paprika, cumin, and salt (portion for saute). Saute until spinach is wilted, 4 to 5 minutes (you can put the lid back on to help speed this along).
  4. Stir in beans and lemon juice. Taste and season with some salt and pepper, if needed.
  5. When grits are finished cooking, whisk in butter and cheese. Taste and season with some more salt, if needed.
  6. Serve cauliflower, greens, and beans over grits. Top with green parts of green onions and pepitas. Enjoy!



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