Gluten Free Vegan Spoonbread with A Mess O’ Greens Recipe
When my grown up son – an artist – calls me and asks if he can stay at our home for a few days to “chill” I know two things: he needs sleep and he needs to eat – he needs to eat comfort food, to be specific. After several grueling months, working round the clock preparing for a big art show, my boy needs his mommy.
We live in the South, so comfort food often includes creamy, cheesy Spoonbread which is a corn dish akin to the illegitimate child of a pan of Southern Cornbread and a French Soufflé, and a Mess O’ Greens – a big pot of collard greens usually flavored with ham hocks.
Oh, but did I mention that my son is a vegetarian? Instead of ham hocks I added some dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid plus some smoked paprika and gluten-free soy sauce to add back in that smoky, salty, “meaty” element so essential to this Southern favorite. I may lose my Southern-issued driver’s license for making a vegetarian version of Mess O’ Greens but that’s just a chance I will have to take. Family first, I say!
I also know that my son prefers not to eat too many eggs so the Spoonbread was challenging as eggs are a main ingredient but with a little tweaking and some Vegenaise, I was able to come up with a perfectly creamy and puffy Spoonbread. And since dairy can be hard on a run-down system, I just went ahead and made the Spoonbread vegan by making a buttermilk substitute from coconut milk and lemon juice and with the addition of a little dairy-free cheddar cheese using Vegan Gourmet.
All in all this turned out to be a really fabulous vegan version of a traditional Southern comfort food. Spoon up a big scoop of Spoonbread, top with the greens and if you are like me, add a splash of balsamic vinegar and more red chili flakes, and you’ve got yourself a big-ole-dish of pure Southern comfort. Just add a glass of sweet tea and you are all set!
- Cheesy Spoonbread
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice or white vinegar
- 1 cup stone ground cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- 2 teaspoons Kosher or fine sea salt
- 1 1/3 cups boiling water
- ¼ cup Vegenaise
- 2½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
- ½ cup Vegan Gourmet dairy free Cheddar Cheese - shredded
- Mess O’ Greens
- 1 small packet dried shitake mushrooms (or any dried mushroom you like)
- 1½ cups boiling water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 small onion - thinly sliced
- 2 big bunches of collard green - kale or mustard greens, washed, ribs removed and cut or torn into large bite sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried red chili flakes
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons wheat free, gluten-free soy sauce
- Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 6 cup baking dish with gluten-free non-stick cooking spray.
Mix the coconut milk with the lemon juice or vinegar and let set for about 5 minutes. It may start to look curdled, but that is OK.
In a mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, agave and salt. Pour over the boiling water and let sit for 5 minutes.
Combine the coconut milk mixture with the Vegenaise and whisk until smooth. Add to the cornmeal mixture along with the baking powder and soda. Whisk to combine. Stir in the corn kernels and shredded dairy free cheese. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until the Spoonbread is set, feels firm to the touch and is golden brown. Let cool a few minutes before serving.
Mess O’ Greens
Put the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with the boiling water. Let sit for 10 minutes.
While the mushrooms are soaking heat a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium high heat and add the oil. Add the onion and sauté until they are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the greens, paprika, chili flakes, black pepper, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and the mushrooms. Strain the mushroom soaking liquid through a paper coffee filter or paper towels into the pot (this removes the grit from the liquid). You may have to add the greens in batches so it all fits. Stir it all around to combine, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the greens are tender. Check the pot occasionally to make sure you still have liquid in the pot. If it gets dry, add a little more water. When the greens are tender, remove the lid and if there is too much liquid in the pot, turn up the heat and let most of it cook off. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
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