Sweet & Savory Southern Platter + 30 Second Barbecue Sauce for One

There are two things that I have to order if I go to a vegan restaurant and they have them on the menu.  The first is a reuben.  That tangy sauerkraut on top of seitan, tempeh, or tofu slathered in dressing and sandwiched between two slices of rye gets me every single time.  The other is a barbecue or soul bowl.  The flavors always play so nice together with the sweet and smoky barbecue sauce combining with creamy vegan mac & cheese or potato salad, slow cooked greens, and then a side of black eyed peas, Soy Curls, or sticky seitan.  Maybe I was a Southerner in another life.  All I know is that I don’t need to look any further at the menu.  My choice is clear.

The last time that I got just such a bowl, I wondered afterwards why I never make that kind of thing at home.  Sure, I make garlicky collard greens or kale almost daily, but the other things don’t get much action.  The main reason is that for a meal with so many elements, it’s the kind of thing I’d make for dinner.  However, David isn’t into barbecue sauce or mac and cheese.  It’s like that Flight of the Conchords song “I’m Not Crying” that’s all about a break-up.  Brett sings, “I’m making a lasagna… for one.”  There are some things that people just don’t make all for themselves.

But this week while having a cup of chamomile before bed, my mind started wandering to mac and cheese.  I couldn’t think of anything else, and as soon as I could get in front of the stove the next day I pulled out Isa’s Mac & Shews recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen blog.  I’ve had that one on my radar for the longest time.  I mean, the secret ingredient for its umami undertones is sauerkraut!  Could anything be more up my alley?  It took some dividing, but I made a quarter of the recipe – enough to last for 3 soul bowls (or in this case plates).

(As an aside here: If you’re an iPhone user, did you know that Siri can tell you things like, “What’s a quarter of 1/3 cup?”  It’s so useful when dividing a recipe by a significant amount!  Not only does she tell you that it’s literally 0.0833 cups, which is admittedly less useful, the phone also gives a full conversion scale with what the amount is in fluid ounces or tablespoons and teaspoons.  Answer: 4 teaspoons.)

I made just 2 small tweaks to the recipe.  I added a little more of the optional nutritional yeast flakes, because I love nutritional yeast.  And after I made the sauce and shells, I didn’t take the final step of baking it.  Instead I ladled the cheesy mac onto my plate and topped it with a handful of Phoney Baloney’s coconut bacon.  I’m sure it’s saucier that way without the additional baking time, but that really worked out for me because it melded with the greens on the plate, making something like creamed collards.   For the collards, I made my usual garlicky sautéed collard greens for my first couple of bowls and then just sautéed kale with garlic the last time around (pictured here).

Then it was time for the barbecued tofu.  Like I said, David isn’t into barbecue sauce, and so I always have a hard time finishing a bottle before I see it in the refrigerator and start wondering, “Now… just how long has this been in here?”

So instead I’ve been making a 30 Second Barbecue Sauce… for One.  It’s made from just 6 ingredients that are always in my kitchen and that you likely already have on hand too – ketchup, apple cider vinegar, stone-ground mustard, liquid smoke, and a pinch of salt.  (The kind of ketchup in my refrigerator now is Woodstock Organic Ketchup.  Keep in mind that brands vary in terms of sweetness.  For my tastes, this barbecue sauce is plenty sweet, but if you prefer a sweeter sauce, I bet a bit of brown sugar would do the trick.)

I’ve made barbecue sauce from scratch several times (including Apricot Barbecue Sauce).  But for something quick and delicious when you need BBQ sauce now or don’t want to commit yourself to a full bottle, this is a great way to go.

I brought a lightly oiled grill pan to a medium-high heat and grilled two 1/2 inch slices of super firm tofu.  After one side easily released from the grill pan, letting me know it was ready, I flipped it and slathered on some barbecue sauce.  When the other side had some good grill marks, I flipped the tofu again, slathered on more sauce, and it was ready to serve with extra sauce for dipping.  On warm summer days, of course, this could be done on the outdoor grill instead.  (If you’re using an indoor cast iron grill pan, you’ll want to make sure you clean it right away since the acidic tomato sauce isn’t good for the coating.)

This bowl so put me in my happy place.  With barbecued tofu, sauerkraut, collard greens, garlic, cashews, coconut bacon, and nutritional yeast, it’s like all of my favorite foods having a party… for one.

30 Second Barbecue Sauce for One

Serving Size: Makes about 1/4 cup

30 Second Barbecue Sauce for One


  • 3 Tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon stone-ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.

I’m curious, what dish do you have to order when you see it on the menu at a vegan restaurant?

Disclaimer: Amazon affiliate links


  1. says

    looks so good, cadry! would you be appauled that i’ve never had a reuben OR a soul food bowl? i always had a warm spot for barbeque, though 😉

    • says

      Appalled? Maybe I should be envious! Just like when someone has never watched your favorite TV program, that means that they still have all of the surprise/joy/glee/amazement ahead of them. You’re in for some good stuff! :)

  2. says

    Oh man, how do soul bowls not exist over here? I think if they did I would totally follow in your footsteps and order them a lot! I’ve made that mac recipe before, and it’s amazing – one of my fave mac and cheeses! As for what dish I always have to order, I’m a sucker of a pie. Pastry wins every time!

  3. jill332 says

    I’m right there with you…vegan reuben! I used to love tempeh reuben but I had the seitan reuben at A.N.D. Cafe in Portland and that is my all time favorite now. Next would probably be mac-n-cheese. I love the whole blend of greens-mac-n-cheese-bbq’d soy curls, tofu, etc. (gotta make a trip to Home Grown Smoker now!…except I’m bummed they took their sweet molasses cornbread off their menu…any recipe recommendations?)

    I will have to try Isa’s recipe with the sauerkraut…sounds intriguing. Great blog post!! wonderful links and amazing recipes!!

    • says

      Yes, I always prefer a seitan reuben to a tempeh reuben! Seitan has a much more satisfying texture in my opinion. The one and only time I visited A.N.D. Cafe, it was brunch-time. So I had one of the nests, but I would love to go back and get a reuben. The reuben at Homegrown Smoker knocked my socks off! It would definitely make my top five list of favorite reubens.

      I’ve never tried this recipe for cornbread from Amanda at Pickles & Honey, but it looks really good! And one of the commenters mentioned swapping out some of the maple syrup for molasses. Maybe it would do the trick now that HGS’ cornbread is MIA.

      Thanks for the kind words, Jill! Much appreciated! :)

  4. says

    I LOVE Southern food! This dish is something I would devour in an instant, all my favorites in one dish, yum! I’ve never had a vegan Reuben but used to love them pre-vegan. I will have to rectify that situation.

  5. says

    Well I’m glad to hear Siri is useful for something. I always end up cursing at her. Well, him actually. I switched my phone to boy Siri :) Also, very excited to try this bbq sauce! I bet it’s so much better than what you can buy at the store!

    • says

      Thanks, Barb! I think Siri has a contemptuous relationship with a lot of people. 😉 If you try the BBQ sauce, I hope you like it!

  6. Lizzie says

    Mmm, this looks so tasty! I’m a breakfast gal, so any time the offerings include a big plate o’ tofu scramble, it’s hard for me to resist ordering!

  7. Mae says

    Mac n Cheese is totally my guilty pleasure at vegan restaurants. Most places don’t have it! Maybe because it’s too traditional or something. But Veggie Grill has a great quinoa pasta mac n cheese that is aaamaaazzzinnngg!!! I can’t believe I’ve never bought liquid smoke…I totally have all of the other ingredients for your BBQ sauce. I’ve been thinking that I bet you could turn potato skin into bacon with some liquid smoke, butter, and salt!

    • says

      Good to know, Mae! I’ve never had the mac and cheese at Veggie Grill. I’ll have to remember that the next time we’re somewhere that has a Veggie Grill location.

      Liquid smoke is really handy to have on hand for making BBQ sauce, vegan bacon, or for adding to anything that you want to have a bit of smoky flavor like split pea soup, chili, or smoky greens. A little goes a long way. It’s good to start with a really small amount (like 1/4 teaspoon) since you can always add more. I linked to my favorite brand in the post. Some of them have weird added ingredients, but my favorite is just condensed smoke.

      I can’t wait to see what you work out with the potato skin bacon! Let me know!

  8. says

    YES I LOVE THIS. I’m pretty sure my palate grew up in the south too because I always go for veg chicken fingers and waffles with a side of collard greens. Because that is the best.

  9. says

    That plate looks fantastic! I should order more bbq stuff (or make this!). I am with you on the reuben, but my other most-ordered item is any kind of sushi. I’m addicted. Thanks for reminding me to pay more attention to bbq :)

    • says

      Sushi is one of those things I’ve always wanted to like. I love all of the trappings with the pretty little plates and dishes, sauces for dipping, and gorgeous plating. However, I’ve tried it so many times, and I’m just not into it. It’s too bad, because the people who love sushi really love it!

  10. acookinthemaking says

    That plate looks absolutely incredible. Seriously, even though I’ve already eaten lunch, the photos are making me hungry! I could probably eat that exact meal every day and never get tired of it.

    If I see a vegan mac and cheese on a menu, it’s game over. The way this dish is prepared varies wildly from one place to another, and I always get excited to try a new take on it.

    • says

      Thank you, Ashley! I could probably eat this every day too… Or at least I wouldn’t mind trying it for a while! 😉

      That is such a good point about there being so many ways to make vegan mac and cheese. That’s one of the fun things about “veganized” takes on entrees. The food is so creative and inventive. That’s the way that I feel about vegan reubens too. The options for fillings are seemingly endless.

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