Corn grits with end of summer vegetables on plate

Recipe: Southern-style Corn Grits with Zucchini and Tomatoes


October 17, 2022

This end-of-summer vegetable recipe is the perfect way to use up the last of that late-season garden bounty.

White corn grits are a traditional staple of the American South. Rich and flavorful, corn grits are also known as polenta. Cook seasonally and make this summer vegetable recipe when end-of-season tomatoes and zucchini are bursting at the seams at the farmstand. Or, make it all winter, as zucchini is available at the grocery store year-round and you can easily substitute canned tomatoes for fresh.

Southern-style corn grits with zucchini and tomatoes

Stacey Kendrick


  • 1 cup white corn grits
  • 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3-4 medium sized zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced about ¼ inch thick
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (capturing the juice in a bowl)
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan


  1. Prepare grits by measuring all ingredients as directed on the package. Grits typically take 30 minutes, so you can start them at the same time as you begin cooking the zucchini mixture.
  2. Next, heat oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet. Add onion. Cook for about 5 minutes, until just tender. Add garlic and continuing cooking for another minute or two. Add zucchini and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and toss together for 5 to 8 minutes, until it is starting to soften. Add tomatoes and their juice, sugar and basil.
  3. Turn heat to medium-high. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until tomatoes have cooked down slightly, stirring often. Turn heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes, until vegetables are soft and aromatic. If they begin to dry out and stick to the pan before the end of the cooking time, add up to ¼ cup water or white wine. Remove from heat, taste, adjust the salt and add pepper.
  4. When grits are ready, stir in parmesan. Spoon into bowls and make a depression in center. Top with zucchini mixture. Garnish with additional parmesan and serve.

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 1 cup | Calories: 77 | Fat: 4g | Saturated fat: 1g | Carbohydrates: 8g | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Protein: 4g | Sodium: 448 mg


• When tomatoes are not in season, you can substitute a 14-ounce can of low-sodium diced tomatoes with good results. • Use any extra grits to make small patties that can be lightly fried in a non-stick skillet with cooking spray until crispy. Top with tomato sauce and parmesan for an easy dinner, or serve them with a poached egg for breakfast.