March Recipe: Sweet Potato-Chickpea Burger with Caribbean Slaw & Vermont Maple BBQ Sauce

2019 Green Mountain Union Crowd Pleaser Award Winners!

March's Recipe Challenge has officially closed, but this dish is always a delicious meal option. Stay tuned for April's challenge, launching Friday! Sign up for the Cooking Club mailing list to get monthly recipe challenge launches in your inbox.

March in Vermont brings maple syrup and the annual Jr Iron Chef VT cooking competition. To celebrate the sugaring season and keep the spirit of the event alive, we’re bringing you our March Recipe Challenge: delicious sweet potato burgers with Caribbean slaw and Vermont maple BBQ sauce! After one bite, the harmony of these delicate burgers paired with sweet maple bbq sauce and tropical, crunchy, tangy slaw will have you dreaming of summer.

This recipe was created by the 2019 Green Mountain Union Team, Turnip the Beet, and won the Crowd Pleaser Award for it's incredible incorporation color, texture, and taste.

Share your creations with us using the form below. Your submission is due March 28, 2021 to be in the running for one of five culinary prize packages (to be delivered in early April).


Yield: 4–6 servings


* denotes ingredients that may be sourced locally in winter months


  • 1 medium (about 12-ounce) sweet potato*
  • Olive oil
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup coarsely ground cornmeal*
  • ¼ cup finely chopped scallions
  • 1 ½–2 teaspoons chili powder, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt


  • ⅓ cup shredded, sweetened coconut
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (sub: cider vinegar)
  • ⅛-¼ teaspoon allspice, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
  • 6 to 8 ounces red or green cabbage, finely shredded to yield about 2 ½ cups*
  • 1 medium carrot, scrubbed and shredded, to yield about ⅓ cup*
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup finely chopped scallions
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Maple BBQ Sauce

  • 1 cup plain canned tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup Vermont maple syrup*
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar*
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (sub: soy sauce to make dish vegetarian)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder


Step 1: Burgers

1a. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a medium baking sheet with parchment or a reusable baking mat. While the oven is preheating, use it to toast the coconut for the slaw per below.
1b. Cut the sweet potato in half lengthwise, and run a little olive oil on the cut side. Place the two halves cut sides down on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the sweet potato is very soft. While the sweet potato bakes, continue making the slaw per below.
1c. When the sweet potatoes halves are done, cool just until you can handle them. Reserve your lined baking sheet. Scoop the flesh into a medium mixing bowl. You should have about 1 ½ cups of sweet potato.
1d. Add the chickpeas, cornmeal, scallions, chili powder, and 1 teaspoon coarse salt.
1e. Use a potato masher or wooden spoon to mash and combine everything until fairly smooth with no large lumps.
1f. Spread a little olive oil on the lined baking sheet. Using a 1/2 or 1/3 cup measure, divide the sweet potato mixture into 4 to 6 portions and shape each portion into a round, flat patty with your hands.
1g. Place the patties on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, turning once halfway through, until set and browned. They will be fairly soft when you turn them. Do it carefully, and pat them back into shape if needed.

Step 2: Slaw

2a. While the oven is preheating to bake the sweet potato, spread the shredded coconut on the prepared baking sheet and put it in the oven for 4 to 7 minutes to toast lightly. Watch it carefully so that it does not burn. When it's done, transfer it to a plate to cool. Use that baking sheet for your sweet potato.
2b. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lime juice, allspice, and ½ teaspoon salt. Add the shredded cabbage and carrot, raisins, scallions, and toasted coconut. Grind a little pepper over everything.
2c. Toss to combine well. Refrigerate while you finish the burgers and sauce. Taste the slaw after refrigeration and add a little more salt and pepper if desired.

Step 3: BBQ Sauce

3a. In a small saucepan, whisk together the tomato sauce, maple syrup, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and a good pinch of coarse salt.
3b. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer for about five minutes until thickened. If too thick for your liking, add a splash of water. Taste and add more salt if desired.

Step 4: Serve

4a. Serve hot sweet potato-chickpea burgers on lightly toasted buns, drizzled liberally with warm barbecue sauce and topped with cool slaw.


*This recipe is adapted from the 2019 Green Mountain Union High School recipe with edits made by Melissa Pasanen and Jr Iron Chef VT.

*Coconut: If the thought of putting coconut into your slaw seems unusual, we encourage you to give it a try! The subtle, crunchy nuttiness the toasted coconut lends to this recipe will keep you coming back for more. 

*Raisins: Give these golden raisins a try! They are more moist and plumper than their more common raisin cousin. Though both usually come from the same variety of grapes, golden raisins are oven-dried versus the more common variety which obtain their dark color and chewier texture from being sundried. Feel free to chop them up into smaller pieces for extra little bursts of sweetness in the slaw.