I started eating the staples of Southern cuisine before they got trendy. Kale has been on my table since the 80s, introduced to me by my first husband’s Portuguese family. Sweet potatoes were welcomed into my kitchen first to make pie for a Southern friend who swore they were a lot better than pumpkin in a pie, and they stayed there because they’re so darn healthy. Black-eyed peas, corn, peanuts: All are welcome in my pantry.
Ok, that corn really did fall into that heart-shape exactly when I lifted it out of the oven. I have a picture of just the corn, but my friend said, “No one will ever believe it happened, they’ll think you planned it.” So you get that picture, which shows you all the components of this bowl. It’s simple to make, despite the (as usual for me) long list of ingredients and steps. Just get out all your ingredients, and you can cook away as things roast in the oven.
Feel free to use the BBQ sauce of your choice, or my version, which I like because you can adjust the heat and sugar levels, and not battle any mystery ingredients. Make it ahead of time, as it improves with age. Here’s the recipe for my spicy sugar-free vegan bbq sauce.
Enjoy, with a big old picture of iced tea and a couple of plums for dessert.
Spicy Vegan BBQ Salad Bowl
A vegan bowl with the flavors of a picnic on a lazy southern Sunday.
Preheat the oven to 425º. Place the shredded cabbage in a large bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and celery seed; toss. Sprinkle vinegar over and toss thoroughly. Set aside.
Place the yogurt in a cheesecloth or coffee filter-lined fine mesh sieve. Let stand while you cook.
Prepare the vegetables, keeping them separate. Peel and cube the sweet potatoes. Drain and rinse the black-eyed peas; run through a salad spinner to remove any additional water. Do the same for the corn if you are using frozen; if you have fresh corn, remove kernels from cobs. Tear the kale leaves off the stems and into rough pieces.
In a large bowl, mix the oil, harissa or spice blend, and salt. Toss the sweet potato cubes, remove from the bowl—there should be oil still in the bowl—then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Set timer for 20 minutes.
If using fresh corn, you may leave them raw for the salad. Otherwise, toss the corn kernels with spice mix, remove from bowl, and arrange on a separate parchment-line baking sheet. Toss the kale leaves in what is left of the oil, adding a little more if you need it. Stir the black-eyed peas with 1/2 cup of bbq sauce.
When 20 minute timer sounds, leave the oven on. Stir the sweet potatos. Add the kale to the sweet potato sweet (you should have room to keep them separate). Return the pan to the oven, along with the corn. Roast vegetables an additional 15 minutes; check for doneness. The chips should be crispy, the potatoes should retain their shape but be soft on the inside, and the corn should be plump and not at all soggy. NOTE: If you are using fresh corn, please check it at 10 minutes; it can overcook and get tough.
Toss the cabbage with the yogurt and place in the bottom half of the bowl. Mix the roasted sweet potatoes and corn with the black-eyed peas and BBQ sauce mixture; add to the other half of the bowl. Top with roasted kale and peanuts. Serve remaining BBQ sauce on the side, approximately 1/4 cup per bowl.
For a sauce that you can customize to your own preference, see this recipe for Spicy Sugar-Free Vegan BBQ Sauce.