We’ve been going through a little bit of a cold snap here in Pennsylvania the past few days, where did Spring go?!  I’m hoping this is Winter’s last appearance for a while, I’m ready for some warmth!

Yesterday I bundled up and braved the chilly winds for a lovely music festival at Wyebrook Farm.  I absolutely love events like this – packing a picnic lunch, some wine, and of course supporting local farms and musical talent!

The best picnic food is food that can be served cold or at room temperature, so salads are always a great option.  This salad bowl is packed with nourishing protein and revitalizing veggies and is easy to assemble on a picnic blanket   Not to mention…Ranch + BBQ sauce, need I say more?

If you haven’t tried polenta before, this is a great way to introduce it to your pallet!  It’s a simple dough made from cornmeal and is sometimes seasoned depending on where you buy it, and is absolutely delicious when sliced thin and crisped up.  They’re like tiny little corn pancakes!  I used a sun-dried tomato and basil polenta, which paired nicely with the other salad bowl ingredients.

Also, BBQ sauce is not just for meat lovers anymore!  If you haven’t had chickpeas drowned in BBQ sauce, you are definitely missing out!  This little vegan hasn’t had BBQ sauce in ages and forgot how absolutely delicious it is.  Finger licking good! 


Ranch Hummus

  • 1½ cups cooked cannellini/great northern beans (or 1 can, drained and rinsed)
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
  • 2 tablespoons vegan sour cream
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • ¾ teaspoon dried dill
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup olive oil


  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Good pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1½ cups of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1 (1 pound) tube polenta, cut into ½ inch slices (use 2 tubes for a hungrier crowd)
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (or 2 cans of rinsed + drained chickpeas)
  • 4 cups fresh arugula, spinach or your favorite greens
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, sliced


  1. To make the hummus add the beans, tahini, sour cream, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, dill, onion powder, pepper and salt to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Puree the mixture until smooth, scrapping down the sides if necessary. With the machine running stream in the olive oil until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
  2. For the bowls, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.Place the asparagus in a roasting pan or on a baking baking sheet and toss with the 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the preheated oven for 7-9 minutes or until tender and crisp. Remove and chop into thirds.
  3. While asparagus are roasting, add the BBQ sauce to a glass measuring cup. Place the chickpeas in a medium bowl and toss with half the BBQ sauce or enough to completely coat the chickpeas. Reserve the remaining sauce.
  4. Heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the polenta slices. Let them sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. Flip and sear another 5, or until lightly crisped and golden on both sides. Remove and keep warm.
  5. To the skillet add the chickpea mixture and cook for about 5-10 minutes or until the BBQ sauce has a thick + sticky coating over the chickpeas. Remove from the heat and stir in one more tablespoon of the BBQ sauce.
  6. To assemble place some arugula in the bottom of you bowls. Add the crispy polenta rounds. asparagus, tomatoes, BBQ chickpeas and avocado slices. Add a dollop of the Ranch Hummus and serve with the remaining BBQ sauce.
EntreesAlicia Uhl