Sometimes I find that my fellow vegans are not sure what to grill, or how to grill it. And because of that, they tend to stay away from throwing a rocking vegan barbecue. I am here to help you become an expert at grilling yummy vegetable. We can’t have that grill intimidate you… veggies taste awesomely grilled and so does tofu and many other plant-based foods. But first, let us tackle the dreaded invitation to a non-vegan cookout… (If you just want to get to the Grilling part of this post, just scroll down a little bit and you’ll see where the Grill Like A Pro part begins).
Summer is here and Fourth of July is only a couple of days away. As a vegan, this could be a tricky time of year, lots of barbecues and parties almost every weekend. It can be somewhat of a headache to navigate the RSVP process, how do you tell the host that you would like a vegan option? And making it even trickier is that for your option to be truly vegan it would need to be cooked on a separate grill where no meat or dairy is being cooked on that day. Do you request a special meal? Do you bring your own meal? Do you just eat before you go to the event? Do you take snacks? Or do you just RSVP “can’t make it”?
Let’s take it one question at a time:
Do you request a special meal? Well, I would say, it’s always worth asking what the menu will be, politely explain that you do eat any animal products and see if the host is willing to make you something special. I believe hosts always appreciate being notified prior to the day of the event that you need a special meal.
Do you bring your own meal? If the host is not able or willing to prepare you a vegan meal, then do not fret, just take your own. Now from my own experience, I should warn you, a lot of people will want to taste what you are eating, so I always make a dish to share (with the host’s permission of course). Most people turn up their noses when they hear the words “vegan meal” but when they see it, they are almost always interested in tasting it, because let’s be honest, vegan food doesn’t just taste good, it also looks awesome ;)!
Do you just eat before you go to the event? Sometimes, especially if you do not plan to stay long, or if it’s a short event, eating beforehand is a great option. You get there with a full belly and can enjoy everyone’s company, and as an added bonus, you won’t get any food stains on your clothes (okay, maybe that last part is just for me, I am a really clumsy eater, does anyone know where I could find adult size bibs?)
Do you take snacks? If an event is about 3 hours long, you could just take a couple of snacks, like a granola bar, some fresh fruit or a trail mix. Snacks will keep you from starving, but you could still eat something and feel a part of the party.
Do you just RSVP “can’t make it”? To this I almost ways say NO, no way should you miss a party because you are vegan! Don’t let your choice to be healthy and cruelty-free stop you from enjoying time with your friends/colleagues. The only way I would ever RSVP no to a party is if the host was rude, or if the circumstances do not allow you to bring your own food/snack. Like some venues, will not allow outside foods. But since we’re talking about barbecues, I say go, choose the solution that best fits you from above list and have fun. Who knows, maybe someone at the party will decide to go vegan because of you.
Grill Like A Pro!
(I found this article by Vegetarian Times Magazine, and made a couple of changes to it, to make it vegan worth it. I changed one of the recipes because it was not originally vegan. But the links to the original article and recipes are at the bottom of this post.)
Why let meat eaters have all the fun? These simple tips and smoking hot recipes will get you all fired up about grilling.
For a long time, barbecue was considered a meat eater’s domain. “People threw a couple of veggies on the grill and that was all you got as a vegetarian/vegan option.”
But barbecuing can add a whole new dimension to summer vegetables. A brush of olive oil brings fragrance and flavor to summer produce. And veggies don’t just cook on the grill, they caramelize——the high heat releases their natural sweetness. Smoke also gives a flavor that’s very compatible with vegetables. The following tips and recipes will prove beyond a doubt that, when it comes to grilling, veggies rule!
What You’ll Need:
- Gas or charcoal grill
- Grill rack or grill topper
- Silicone basting brush
- Vegetable oil for coating grill rack or grill topper
- Paper towels or clean cotton towel
- Skewers (bamboo or stainless steel)
- Long-handled metal tongs and spatula
Three Secrets to Grilling Success
- Preheat Properly. Light the grill, and oil the grate or grill topper with a paper or cotton towel dipped in vegetable oil before cooking. A charcoal grill requires about 40 minutes to reach the desired temperature, a gas grill takes 20 minutes
- Size Up Your Veggies. Make sure the vegetables are cut the same size so they cook at the same rate. Set ingredients that take longest to cook on the grill first, add quicker-cooking items later.
- Work It! “Be aware the fire has hot spots; move the vegetables around once they start to brown. But don’t start shifting until items have had a chance to sear——usually 3 minutes. This makes for pretty grill marks and also keeps foods from sticking to the grate.
Worth-it Grill Tool
A stainless steel vegetable grill topper is the best investment a vegetarian griller can make, says Andrea Chesman. “With a vegetable grill topper, the size of vegetables doesn’t become a limiting factor and you don’t have to worry about slices falling through the grate and into the coals,” she explains.
How to Take Your Grill’s Temperature
No thermostat necessary! Simply hold your hand 4 inches above the grate and count until your palm feels hot. Here are the times and their corresponding temperatures:
- 2 to 3 seconds = high heat
- to 5 seconds = medium-high heat
- to 8 seconds = medium heat
- 9 to 10 seconds = medium-low heat
If the temperature is too high for your recipe, turn down the heat on a gas grill or move some coals off to the side in a charcoal grill.
Perfect Cross Marks
Want your barbecued goodies to have pro-looking grill marks? All you have to do is rotate them 45 degrees halfway through their time on the grill for one side, then cook until done on that side. Flip, and repeat on the other side.
Try these recipes:
Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers Click here for the recipe
Farm Stand Vegetable Skewers with Rosemary-Dijon Vinaigrette Click here for the recipe
Spicy Grilled Tofu and Green Bean Salad Click here for the recipe
Grilled Eggplant with Couscous and Vegan Yogurt Dressing
2/3 cup whole-wheat couscous
1 cup pomegranate seeds, divided
2 Persian cucumbers, diced (1 cup)
1/4 cup sliced green onion
2 Tbs. chopped mint leaves
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
7 oz. Plain Vegan Yogurt, Unsweetened is preferred
1/2 cup chopped Persian cucumber
1/4 cup mint leaves
1 green onion, chopped
1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic
4 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh mint
2 small Italian eggplants, each cut on the bias into 6 slices
- To make Salad: Bring 1 cup water to boil in small saucepan. Stir in couscous. Cover pan, remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and cool 10 minutes.
- Stir 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds and remaining ingredients into couscous, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Chill for 1 hour.
- To make Dressing: purée all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
- To make Eggplant: Preheat grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Whisk together oil and mint in small bowl. Brush eggplant slices with mint oil, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Grill slices 4 minutes per side, or until tender and nicely grill-marked.
- Divide Salad among plates. Top each serving with 3 eggplant slices, 1 Tbs. remaining pomegranate seeds, and 2 Tbs. Dressing. Serve remaining Dressing on the side.
Preparation: 1 hour 20 minutes Marinating: 1 hour Yields: 4 servings
Farm Stand Vegetable Skewers with Rosemary-Dijon Vinaigrette RECIPE by Melynda Saldenais.
The rest of the RECIPES by Vegetarian Times Magazine Editors.
Drawing by <a href=”http://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/food”>Food vector created by Freepik</a>