I am from New Jersey. My parents were born there, as were their parents before them. I can make fresh pasta, a damn fine Giant-Crumb Crumb Cake, and my grandmother’s tomato sauce is the stuff of legend (Duke Ellington once tried to convince her to bottle and sell it; she refused.) But I also have a strange love for grits, cultivated from early childhood by my mother, who lived in Georgia for several years after college. And I saw this beautiful bunch of collards at the grocery store, and I knew what had to be done.

This is not Southern-style by a long shot. These collards have no pot liquor. These grits are yellow. There’s parmesan in there. These are basically the collard and grits I imagine John Kerry whips up on a Thursday. But you know what? They’re dead-simple and delicious and quick enough for lunch.

Sautéed Collard Greens with Creamy Polenta
Inspired by Door Sixteen
(Serves 2)

For the greens:
1 bunch collard greens
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp salt

For the grits:
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup grits or polenta (regular, not instant)
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
freshly-ground black pepper

1. Wash and dry the collard greens. Remove the center spine and cut into 3/4″ strips.

2. In a small pot, bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and whisk in the grits and salt. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. While the grits are cooking, make the collard greens: Heat sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter; when melted, add the greens and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and sauté for 10 minutes, or until tender.

4. When the grits have absorbed the water and are soft, turn off heat. Stir in 1 Tbsp. butter, Parmesan, and garlic and onion powders. Cover and let stand while the greens finish cooking. Serve with ground pepper.