Cookouts and barbecues are American as apple pie, and there’s no reason to limit yourself to standard vegetarian burgers. Vegan options for cook-outs range from the quick and easy to the complex, so pick something that suits the time and energy you want to invest.
Many traditional side dishes – like coleslaw or potato salad – work even better as vegan and help to round out the meal.
So why wait for Memorial Day or the Fourth of July? The next sunny afternoon, heat up the grill and invite your family or friends over for a delicious and healthy cook-out.
Kebabs: Meals on Sticks
Kebabs are the perfect cook-out food. The cook does the prep work in the kitchen, and all the guests see is a plate of festive kebabs ready for the grill.
Both fruit and vegetables work well in kebabs, and firm tofu cubes add protein and “meaty” texture. Serve these with a side of rice.
Easy Veggie Kebabs
Soak Skewers. If you use bamboo skewers for your kebabs, you’ll want to soak them in water for a full hour to keep them from burning on the grill. Start these early so that the soaking time doesn’t delay the barbecue.
Choose Veggies. So many different vegetables grill up nicely, so you can pretty much select among your favorites. If your mind goes blank, consider red peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini chunks, mushrooms, and onions.
Cut Veggies. Cut up the vegetables into kebab-size chunks. If you want to include heavier vegetables like potatoes, parboil them in a few inches of water before grilling. They’ll finish cooking on the grill.
Prepare Kebab. Thread the kebab skewer through the prepared vegetable pieces. Alternate the veggies so that each kebab contains a few of each type of veggie.
Brush on Marinade. If you’re pressed for time, use any salad dressing your family likes as marinade for kebabs. Alternatively, mix up your own marinade by combining olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar, mustard, water and your favorite spices. Brush the marinade over the kebabs before you put them on the grill, and continue basting with marinade until the vegetables are browned and tender.
Adding tofu cubes to veggie kebabs makes for a more substantial meal. Choose extra-firm tofu for best results. Tofu absorbs flavors so well that you’ll want to soak the cubes in a marinade before grilling.
Fruit kebabs make a light and delicious dessert, but they can also serve as a side dish. Grilling brings out the sweetness. Use juicy fruits like pineapple, peaches, plums and strawberries, but don’t hesitate to add apple chunks or banana as well.
Better than Burgers
A great pleasure of hamburgers is the ease of the meal. All you have to do is pop the patties on the grill and slather condiments on the round buns. Vegans get the same ease and a better sandwich by filling that bun with grilled portabella mushrooms, marinated tofu or eggplant slices.
Portabella mushrooms are about the same size and shape as burger patties, with a rich mushroom taste. Wipe the cap clean with a paper towel, spray it with olive oil, and grill for five minutes or until tender. Portabellas fit perfectly on hamburger buns.
Marinated Grilled Tofu
Grilled tofu is so tasty that it’s hard to believe how healthy it is, both low-fat and high-protein. Use extra-firm tofu and press it for about 15 minutes before you use it. Place the tofu on paper towels; put a plate on top with a weight on it. A large can of beans works well.
Marinate the tofu in soy sauce or barbeque sauce before you place it on the oiled grill. Grill for about six minutes on each side.
Cut a globe eggplant crosswise into ¼ inch slices. Salt the slices on both sides and allow them to sit for 15 minutes, and then pat them dry with paper towels. Brush both sides with olive oil and grill for three minutes per side.
Once you’ve tried pizza cooked over the grill, it’s hard to eat it any other way. You’ll need to organize the tomato sauce and toppings on a table near the grill before you begin. Use regular pizza dough stretched into rounded shapes bigger than a saucer, smaller than a plate.
Brush one side of the dough with olive oil, and then place it on the grill, oiled side down, for three minutes. Flip the dough with a spatula, and then quickly build the pizza with sauce and toppings. Cook for another five minutes, then let it cool a bit before serving.
Summer’s just around the bend, so now’s the time to start planning those weekend cook-outs. A good grill and a little preparation is all you need to organize a vegan barbeque the whole family will enjoy.