Sara Foster had worked for Martha Stewart; she had cooked in some of the best kitchens in New York City; she even owned her own catering business in Connecticut when, in 1990, she decided to return to her Southern roots and open a café and specialty food store in Durham. Click here to read about Sara Foster and find more of her recipes.

Creamy Grits with Roasted Butternut Squash and Blue Cheese

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped or sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup stone-ground yellow grits
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup (3 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola or other blue cheese

Preheat the oven to 400˚. Toss the squash with the olive oil to coat evenly and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring halfway through. While the squash is baking, bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the 2 teaspoons salt and slowly add the grits in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook and stir for 15 to 20 minutes, until the grits begin to thicken. Add the milk and continue to cook and stir for another 5 minutes, until the grains are tender and the mixture is thick. Remove from the heat and add the Parmesan cheese, butter, and rosemary, stirring to melt. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if desired. Place the grits on a platter or divide evenly between individual serving plates and scatter the roasted squash on top. Sprinkle with the Gorgonzola, garnish with rosemary, and serve warm. Yields 4 to 6 servings.

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For several years, Our State featured recipes from the pages of community and church cookbooks from around North Carolina. These dishes continue to be among some of our most popular and enjoyed.