A juicy hamburger, a perfectly cooked steak, ribs, or grilled hot dogs are most often what comes to mind when one thinks barbecue. However, if you have guests who are vegetarian, these menu items won’t do. A packaged veggie burger is what many think of to serve them. Today, with plant-based diets on the rise, we need to be creative in what to serve at a barbecue get-together.
The Dole website has been a resource for me, providing recipes that bring out new tastes and ways to enjoy both vegetables and fruits. Two of my summertime favorites are the grilled banana and peach salad with arugula and grilled romaine with balsamic glazed strawberries.
While grilled corn has long been a classic, why not try some different produce: artichokes, Brussels sprouts, portobello mushrooms, pineapple, even watermelon — or better yet, try bananas. My friends at America’s Test Kitchen suggest grilling vegetables with their delicate cut sides down first. Doing this, you will be able to control the amount of char that develops before flipping the vegetables to finish cooking them through on the more resilient skin side. They recommend dressing the vegetables while still warm to help absorb the vinaigrette more effectively.
I have been on the lookout for resources to help explore cooking vegetables with a flair, and recipes for vegetarian barbecue menus that are not boring. To the rescue is “Fresh Veggie BBQ: All-Natural & Delicious Recipes From the Grill,” by David and Charlotte Bailey (2019, Pavillion Books, $22.50). After reading the book, I am looking forward to celebrating healthful outdoor eating with rustic, unfussy food and lots of charred, smoked, woody and robust flavors that both those on a plant-based diet and meat-eaters alike will savor. Recipes include Sticky Tempeh Ribs, Miso-glazed Aubergine (eggplant), Shiitake and Smoked Tofu Skewers, Ember-roasted Pumpkin Tagine, Campfire Hotcakes with Sour Cherries and Sweet Crème Fraiche, and Burnt Cauliflower Salad with Tahini Yogurt and Pomegranate, as well as the recipes below. For the recipe for Elotes (Mexican Street Corn with Garlic Mayonnaise & Crumbled Feta), visit https://bit.ly/38EEHwN.
Before getting into the recipes, the authors explore the different woods to use, the basics of how to build and light a fire, the different equipment and cooking vessels available for barbecuing, as well as variations for charcoal, gas and indoor cooking. I found the recipe key, noting vegan, vegan option, wheat-free and gluten-free helpful.
So, whether cooking on gas, burying foil-packed food into hot coals or serving up the perfect summer salad, you’ll be able to create a delicious summer feast and your friends who are vegetarian will thank you.
The headnote says, “This is a simple way to really enjoy the flavours of summer’s best vegetables. We’ve used here some of our favourites, but it works with any vegetable you fancy or happen to have to hand. It’s great served as part of a larger barbecue spread with some brown rice and a few easy sides.” V / WF / GF
Place all the vegetables in a large bowl or on a tray, pour over the olive oil and sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Mix gently with your hands to distribute the oil and seasoning.
Once the grill is hot (or use a griddle plate if cooking indoors), work in batches to grill the vegetables until they’re nicely charred on both sides. The different vegetables will take slightly different times to char, so do keep an eye on them and remove them from the grill when they are done.
Arrange on a serving platter, pour over the chimichurri and enjoy! Serves 4.
The headnote says, “Originating in Argentina and Uruguay, chimichurri is an uncooked sauce often used as a marinade for grilled meat. You can use it in this way with any meat substitutes you enjoy having on the barbecue, but it is also wonderful as a condiment or drizzled over grilled or ember-roasted vegetables. Another thing we love to do is add a spoonful to natural yogurt to make a delicious dip!” V / WF / GF
“It’s meant to be seriously garlicky, and we don’t disappoint in that regard here, but you can reduce to one clove if you’re not so keen or have a hot date lined up. It can, of course, be prepared in a food processor but we like to make it using a pestle and mortar, especially when we’re outdoors.”
Place a generous pinch of salt into your mortar. Add the garlic cloves and crush thoroughly. Add the parsley, oregano, chilli flakes and red wine vinegar and grind until it all begins to break down. Add the olive oil and continue to grind until you have a wet, well-combined yet still rough mixture. Makes about 31/2 ounces.
It’s a winning combination that really tastes of summer! WF / GF
Begin by making the simple vinaigrette. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Grill the halloumi slices until they’re nice and golden on both sides (you can use a griddle plate on the stove if you’re cooking indoors). Place in a large bowl along with the watermelon slices, then pour over the vinaigrette and sprinkle over the chopped mint. Top with a little extra black pepper. Serves 2-4.
Jackfruit is one of those strange-looking Asian fruits that can be hard to know quite what to do with, but these days it’s common in canned form, which is a very easy way to use it. This pulled jackfruit mix is also great in tacos or burritos. V / WF / GF (Without the bun)
Begin by making the pulled jackfruit. Gently heat the olive oil in a skillet or pan and sauté the onions for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic and the jackfruit and continue to sauté gently for about 10 minutes until they all just start to brown.
Add all the other jackfruit ingredients except for the barbecue sauce, then stir well and cover. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 35-40 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Check it every 10 minutes or so to ensure it isn’t sticking, and if there is any liquid left after 40 minutes, simply remove the lid and keep cooking until the liquid has gone.
Using a potato masher, lightly mash the jackfruit to the point that it begins to break apart and starts to resemble pulled meat. Place to one side.
Meanwhile, make the barbecued pineapple. Rub a little olive oil on both sides of each slice with your finger. Place the slices on the grill if outdoors, or in a very hot griddle plate if indoors, and grill until you have good colour on both sides. Place to one side.
When you’re ready to serve, put the pulled jackfruit back over a gentle heat. Once it’s begun to take on some heat and color, spoon over 4-5 tablespoons of the barbecue sauce. Mix well and continue to cook until thoroughly heated.
Load the buns with some lettuce leaves, a generous amount of the pulled jackfruit, an extra dollop of the barbecue sauce, if you like, a slice or two of the barbecued pineapple and a spoonful of the rainbow slaw. Serves 4.
V / WF / GF
Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the garlic, onion and thyme for 2 minutes before adding the molasses and softened chipotle. Allow the mixture to caramelize for a minute, then add the rum, vinegar and tamari and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add the ketchup and a touch of salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Bring the sauce to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Allow to cool, then transfer to your sterilized bottle or jar to store in the fridge.
To sterilize your jar: Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Remove from the heat and, using tongs, carefully lower the jar and lid into the water.
Submerge the head of the tongs, as well. Leave everything for 5 minutes then lift the jar out of the water using the same tongs and allow to air dry. Makes about 13/4 cups.
V / WF / GF
Combine all the vegetables (except the sprouts) and seeds in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix together the rice vinegar, mirin and sesame oil, then pour this over the vegetables and mix to combine. Top with a couple of handfuls of mixed sprouts just before serving. Serves 4 as a side.
Worth Tasting, culinary walking tour of downtown New Haven, July 18, 10:30 a.m., reservations required, 203-415-3519, $68. Enjoy tasty samplings from several of New Haven’s favorites. You won’t be hungry after this tour. Tickets at https://bit.ly/2FjiwMP.