Vegan Cheese Grits with Tempeh Bacon and Greens

Lately, all I want to do is eat mustard greens.  I’m not sure if it’s the last push of dreary weather or what, but a comforting bowl of greens has been on my mind.  They are an amazing source of vitamins K, A and C, and have a sharp taste that works well with acids, especially lemon juice. 

With a bunch of collards, a bunch of mustard greens, and a bunch of red chard, I set out to make a delicious, flavorful greens topped with homemade tempeh bacon all over a batch of cheesy grits.  This vegan version is smokey, spicy, savory, cheesy and healthful.  It’s everything I love about southern food.  And no contest, the blended silken soft tofu makes the best dairy free creamy grits.  So, so good!

I used three types of greens, because I had them on hand.  Feel free to use one type, two or all three.  

Vegan Cheese Grits with Tempeh Bacon and Greens

Tempeh Bacon:

1 12 ounce package of tempeh, sliced or chopped into “bacon bits”

½ cup reduced sodium tamari

1 Tbsp pure maple syrup

1 ½ – 2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp hot sauce

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp apple juice 

1 tsp dijon mustard


2 Tbsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1 jalapeño, finely chopped (remove seeds, if you are sensitive to heat)

1 tsp fresh ginger, minced

1 dried prune, finely chopped

1 cup onion, chopped

½ tsp smoked paprika

1 bunch mustard greens, stems removed and torn into pieces

1 bunch collard greens, stems removed and torn into pieces

1 bunch red chard, stems removed and torn into pieces

1 tsp red miso

1 cup water

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Hot sauce, to taste

Salt, to taste


1 12 ounce silken soft tofu

2 Tbsp vegan butter

2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

2 cups fake chicken broth

2 ½ cups water

1 ½ cups coarse yellow corn grits

½ tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp lemon juice

¼ cup nutritional yeast

¼ cup vegan shredded cheddar cheese

1. Pour ½ cup water in a microwave-safe dish and add a layer of tempeh over it.  Cover with a paper towel, and steam for 1-2 minutes, depending the strength of your microwave.  (If you don’t have a microwave, steam it on your stove top).  Remove from microwave, and drain off water.  Meanwhile, mix every listed under “Tempeh Bacon” in a sealable container.  Add tempeh and make sure every piece is drenched in the marinade.  Add the lid, and refrigerate for 1.5 hours.  At the 45 minute point, rotate the tempeh, and place back in the refrigerator.

2. While the tempeh is marinading, get started on the greens.  In a large, heavy pot or dutch oven, add olive oil, garlic, jalapeño, ginger, dried prune, and onions over high heat.  When it starts to sizzle, turn it down to low and sauté for ~7 minutes or until the onions are transparent.  Add the smoked paprika, and sauté for 1 more minute.

3. Stir in greens, and saute for 5 more minutes.  Add red miso and water.  Cover and simmer on low for 45-60 minutes.  At the end of simmering, add lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and hot sauce.  Taste and adjust seasonings (more salt?  more hot sauce?  more lemon?)

4. When tempeh is done marinading, move oven rack to the top slot and preheat the oven to BROIL on HIGH.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment or non-stick foil.  Place tempeh on the lined cookie sheet.  When the oven is ready, broil for 5 minutes on one side.  Watch closely, so it does not burn.  Remove from oven and flip each piece over.  Return to the oven, and broil for another 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.

5. When the tempeh is done and the greens are basically done, start on the cheesy grits.  In a blender or food processor, add the silken soft tofu and blend until very, very smooth.  Set aside.

6. In a large, heavy pot or dutch oven, add vegan butter and garlic cloves over medium heat.  When it just starts sizzling, turn it down to low.  Be careful not to brown or burn the garlic.  Sauté for 1 minute, constantly moving it around in the butter.

7. Add broth and water to garlic butter.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in corn grits and blended silken tofu, and turn down to low.  Stir constantly for 5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in dijon, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and vegan cheese.  Serve with greens and tempeh bacon.

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