Vegan BBQ Lentils with Millet Polenta

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 1 vote

A cozy and quick bowl of vegan BBQ lentils with millet polenta. This is a filling and flavourful vegan and gluten-free main course.

#vegan bbq lentils with millet "polenta" //
illuminati lentils // via @thefirstmess
kitchen vibes // via @thefirstmess
shredding shallots // via @thefirstmess

Mark’s and my favourite kind of food to eat is somewhat sloppy stuff on top of starch, and dang if I’m not willing to provide at least that. Curries, pasta, veg ragout/beans on toast, Moroccan-style tagines with couscous and the like eaten out of a big bowl while we catch up on our stories is how the dinner bell rings most nights. Sweatpants, hair up, dog whining for a few scraps, and any number of variations on the rhetorical “This is good, right?” It makes me happier than a beautifully set table ever could.

I unabashedly love baked beans. From scratch, canned, doesn’t matter. When Kristy from Keepin’ It Kind sent me her new cookbook But I Could Never Go Vegan!, my eyes went right to her maple-baked beans + cornbread dish. Deep comfort in a tidy package. But I didn’t have beans and I had used up all of my cornmeal trying to develop a recipe for my own book, so I had to get creative. Having seen a baked beans approach to lentils from another cooking site that I love, and knowing that millet ground for porridge is very corn/polenta-like, I sort of stumbled into a solution. I like Kristy’s book because, in a very fun way, it’s structured around the idea of “no excuses.” She makes brilliant nut-based versions of cheeses to satiate dairy cravings and thoughtful hearty mains to nip the “rabbit food” criticism in the bud.

This dish, with flavours inspired by her recipe, was so cozy and light at the same time. Once the lentils are cooked, it comes together pretty fast too. I’ve been making homemade barbecue sauce since I learned how to cook and I always find it a satisfying process. The recipe I’ve offered here is my go-to quick and dirty version that’s perfect for this little bowl, but it’s also nice for grilled portobellos, crispy tempeh slices, roasted sweet potato wedges etc.

#vegan bbq lentils with millet "polenta" //
#vegan bbq lentils with millet "polenta" // via @thefirstmess
But I Could Never go Vegan! by Kristy Turner
#vegan bbq lentils with millet "polenta" //

Vegan BBQ Lentils with Millet Polenta

A cozy and quick bowl of vegan BBQ lentils with millet polenta. This is a filling and flavourful vegan and gluten-free main course.
5 from 1 vote
#vegan bbq lentils with millet "polenta" // via @thefirstmess
Servings 2 -3


Quick BBQ Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, peeled and grated on a box grater
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 ½ cups jarred tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Tamari
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Everything else

  • 1 ¼ cups cooked french or black lentils
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small cooking onion, small dice
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup raw millet, ground into flour/meal
  • handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2-3 sticks of celery, small diced with inner leaves if possible


  • inspired by Kristy Turner’s maple-baked beans in But I Could Never Go Vegan! Millet polenta technique from Erin Alderson‘s The Homemade Flour Cookbook
  • I cook lentils like pasta. Tons of water in the pot and I just keep checking for doneness.
  • With the liquid components of this barbecue sauce, I like to blend them up for total smoothness prior to adding them to the pot, but this is an optional step. A good thing to note as well: I’ve made this sauce with less than half of the specified maple syrup amount, and loved it just the same. If you’re less excited about the play of sweet flavours in a sauce, you can use less.


  • Make the barbecue sauce. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the grated shallot and minced garlic to the pan and sauté, stirring frequently, until soft. About 3 minutes. Add the smoked paprika, mustard powder, and chili powder to the pot and stir for 20 seconds or so. Add the tomato sauce, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and tamari to the pot and stir. Bring the barbecue sauce to a boil and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of sauce for this dish and store the rest covered in your refrigerator.
  • Combine the cooked lentils and 1 cup of barbecue sauce in a small saucepan and keep very warm. Add a fat pinch of salt and pepper if you like.
  • Make the polenta. In a medium saucepan/small soup pot, heat the 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until translucent and soft. About 5-7 minutes. Add the vegetable stock to the pot along with a heavy pinch of salt. Bring the stock to a boil and then slowly sprinkle in the ground millet flour while whisking. Keep whisking the ground millet and stock until you have a thick, cooked polenta-like mixture. Remove it from the heat and divide the polenta among two large-ish bowls. Top the polenta with the warm vegan BBQ lentils. In a small bowl, quickly toss the parsley leaves and celery together with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Divide the little salad amongst the two plates and serve.
12/03/2015 (Last Updated 05/08/2023)
Posted in: creamy, earthy, gluten free, lentils, main course, nut free, refined sugar-free, salty, sour, spicy, sweet, tomatoes, vegan


5 from 1 vote

Recipe Rating

  • Teresa

    5 stars
    So good and healthy! One tablespoon maple syrup added enough sweetness. Thank you for sharing so many delicious recipes!

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Teresa! Thanks for this kind comment and review! :)

  • Alex

    PSA – I didn’t have any tamari on hand so I used a couple dashes of the Maldon smoked salt in the sauce and it was insaaaaaaanely good. Can’t believe how deep and flavourful the sauce is and with so few ingredients! This is going to be a new staple recipe for quick lunches/dinners for sure.

  • Alex

    SO delicious!! This is the first recipe of yours I have tried and it was amazing! I can’t wait to try more. Thank you so much for your work!!

  • Carol Diamond

    I only prepared the millet polenta. Since my food processor did not really grind the grain very well, after the “polenta” had cooked about halfway, I used my immersion blender to further grind it up, and it worked beautifully, thickening up the grains just right! It’s delicious, as I miss corn (which I would not eat any longer). Next time I will make the lentils. This time, having beans with the polenta, tomorrow, a fried egg!