Some of us might have had experience eating limp, boring salads, or thin, watery soups that have left us equating light summer meals with flavorless and unfulfilling fare. That's definitely not the case with these BBQ Bean Summer Bowls.
I took everything I love about BBQ beans and a sloppy joe filling - a saucy tomato mixture and that sweet-smoky flavor - and combined them in a lightened up, flavor-packed summer BBQ meal, sans the bun. The BBQ beans come together with simple, everyday pantry ingredients; spices, canned beans, red lentils, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, maple syrup, and a few other fridge condiments for extra flavor.
The toppings round out the bowl and are not to be missed! The cool, creamy cucumber salad takes all of three minutes to throw together. But its' zesty freshness provides a nice contrast to the cooked sauce. The sprouts, originally added for visual appeal, quickly became my favorite component, giving a crunch and airy lightness that elevate the entire bowl. Plus they add extra enzymatic support. I'm using lentil sprouts but mung bean sprouts also work well.
Summer is in full swing here in Madrid. But despite the recipe name, I imagine these bowls being good all year round. So wherever you are, I hope you find space on your table soon for some BBQ beans. Let me know if you make them or have any favorite variations!
BBQ Bean Summer Bowls
Notes: The BBQ beans are topped with cucumber salad and sprouts for simplicity. But if you wanted to lighten it up further, serve this meal over a bed of crisp romaine lettuce. The recipe calls for beans of choice. I use pinto and adzuki beans. Kidney beans are also a good choice.
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (or ghee)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp. ground chili powder
- 3/4 cup (136 gr) red lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1 3/4 cups (414 ml) water
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 15-oz cans beans of choice, rinsed and drained (or 436 gr/3 cups, cooked)
- BBQ Tomato Sauce
- 5 Tbsp. ketchup
- 4 Tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
- 4 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- Toppings: Creamy Cucumber Salad (recipe below) + sprouts (lentil or mung bean)
- Melt oil in a medium, high-sided sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and spices. Cook for a minute until fragrant. Stir in lentils to coat in spices. Add water, salt, and raise heat to high. Bring to a hard simmer, cover, reduce heat to a steady simmer, and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- In the meantime, mix tomato sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. After ten minutes, add beans and tomato sauce to lentils. Continue cooking, covered, for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until lentils are soft and mixture has thickened.
- Serve in bowls, topped with cucumber salad and sprouts.
Creamy Cucumber Salad
Notes: I really love the tang that mayo gives the cucumber salad. Sir Kensington makes good quality vegan mayo and a regular version with avocado oil that I love. Or use a thick, full-fat Greek style yogurt instead. Both great choices.
- 1 medium cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced in half-moon shape
- 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise or thick, Greek yogurt
- 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
- A few generous pinches of salt
- Handful fresh dill or cilantro, chopped
- Stir everything together in a medium bowl. Chill until ready to serve.