This bowl will bring you some of that Southern comfort. The creamy polenta topped with the sweet barbecued cauliflower and savory greens . . . each bite is like a warm hug. The black-eyed peas and pickled red onion round it out, so nothing is missing. You will love this filling bowl! Reprinted with permission from Vegan Buddha Bowls by Cara Carin Cifelli, Page Street Publishing Co. 2020. Photo credit: Jackie Sobon

Southern Comfort Bowl [Vegan]





Quick-Pickled Onions

  • 1/2 cup (80 g) thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) distilled white vinegar
  • Pinch of salt

For the Polenta:

  • 4 cups (946 ml) vegetable broth
  • 1 cup (175 g) dried polenta (not instant)
  • 2 tablespoons (28 g) vegan butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Veggies:

  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) coconut oil for collards, plus 2 tbsp (30 ml), melted, for cauliflower
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 to 7 collard leaves, stemmed and chopped into 2” (5-cm) pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups (355 ml) vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 large head cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 1/3 cup (85 g) barbecue sauce, plus more for serving

For the Beans:

  • 1 (15-oz [425-g]) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


To Make the Onions:

  1. Make the quick-pickled onions: In a small jar or bowl, combine the sliced onion, water, vinegar and salt. Mix well and set aside.

For the Polenta:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
  2. In a medium-sized soup pot, bring the vegetable broth to a boil, then slowly add the polenta, using a whisk to separate the grains. Once it’s all mixed in with no clumps and starting to thicken, about 5 minutes, cover the pot. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for another 30 minutes, whisking every 5 or 6 minutes. Once it’s too thick to whisk, use a wooden spoon instead. When finished cooking, it will have a creamy texture. Stir in the butter and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Set aside.

To Make the Veggies:

  1. In a separate medium-sized soup pot, melt a tablespoon (14 g) of the coconut oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper to taste, then add the garlic, collards, vegetable broth, vinegar, cumin and red pepper flakes. Mix well and bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 17 to 25 minutes, or until the liquid is almost evaporated and the greens are tender.
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, toss the cauliflower with the 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of melted oil and the barbecue sauce. Lay out the florets in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crispy and caramelized.

To Make the Beans:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the black-eyed peas with the cumin, garlic, smoked paprika and salt and black pepper to taste. Mix well.

To Assemble the Bowl:

  1. Divide the polenta, collards, cauliflower and beans equally between 2 serving bowls. Top with the pickled red onions and drizzle some more barbecue sauce on the cauliflower. Serve immediately.