Chickpeas and tender chunks of sweet potato are simmered in sweet and zesty barbecue sauce and served atop creamy polenta to make these seriously satisfying bowls.
I usually think of barbecue anything as summer food, because of the whole grilling thing. But that’s pretty silly, as I rarely grill myself — I just like to drown things in barbecue sauce! So with that in mind, barbecue is perfect for winter. Sweet, spicy, saucy and delicious.
And this is one meal that fits all of those categories. In fact, I’d probably turn my nose up at this bowl on a hot day, but the other night when it was freezing out and I was perusing my list of blog recipe ideas to make, this sucker caught my attention right away.
My initial idea was just barbecue chickpeas over polenta, but then when I was at the store shopping for this recipe a sweet potato caught my eye, and I was a goner. And okay, throwing a sweet potato and chickpeas in sweet barbecue sauce over some polenta does make for the mother of all carby meals, but I’m okay with that. If there’s ever a time that I’m okay with layers of carbs piled on carbs, it’s mid-February. I’ll try to come up with some lighter barbecue fare come summer. ;)
Barbecue Chickpea & Sweet Potato Polenta Bowls
For the Barbecue:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- Dash cayenne pepper
- 1 small sweet potato scrubbed and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 14 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- salt and pepper to taste
For the Creamy Polenta
- 1 cup polenta grits
- 2-3 cups water
- 1 cup unflavored soy or almond milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped scallions
Make the Barbecue
- Coat the bottom of a medium saucepan with oil and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until very fragrant, about 1 minute more.
- Add the water, tomato past, apple cider vinegar, molasses, soy sauce, maple syrup, chili powder, and cayenne to the pot. Stir until everything is well blended, then stir in the sweet potato. Raise heat to high and bring the liquid to a simmer. Lower the heat and allow to simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir the chickpeas into the pot. Allow everything to simmer until the sweet potato is tender and the sauce is thick, 5 to 10 minutes more. You can add a splash of water during cooking if the sauce gets too thick. Taste test and adjust the seasonings to your liking.
Make the Creamy Polenta
- While the barbecue simmers, place polenta grits, 2 cups of water, and milk into a medium saucepan and stir a few times. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Lower heat and allow to simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a bit of extra water if mixture becomes too thick. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide the polenta into bowls, then top with the chickpea and sweet potato barbecue. Drizzle with tahini and sprinkle with scallions. Serve.