Summertime is the perfect season to experiment with vegetarian and vegan grilling. There are so many delicious vegetables that can be grilled to perfection and the options are endless when it comes to choosing creative flavour combinations. When done right, vegetarian grilling can be just as delicious as a traditional barbecue. So, this summer, ditch the hamburgers and hot dogs, and give vegetarian grilling a try.
The benefits of plant-based barbecuing
There’s something about the smell of barbecue that just makes everyone happy. Whether you’re a meat-eater or not, grilled vegetables are a delicious way to enjoy the summer weather and the harvest from your garden. And there are some bonus benefits:
- It can be a quick and easy way to have a light but satisfying lunch or evening meal.
- Grilled vegetables are a healthy alternative to meat, and are full of vitamins and minerals. Plus, by avoiding meat, you’re avoiding all the unhealthy fats and cholesterol that come along with it.
- Grilling vegetables is a great way to be environmentally friendly. Meat production can use a lot of resources and impacts water, land and energy use. By choosing vegetarian options for your grill, you’re doing your part to reduce your impact on the environment.
So next time you fire up the grill, consider making some delicious vegetarian and vegan barbecue options for you and your friends. Here are some recipes to get you started with grilling without meat.
Summer Harvest Grilled Vegetable Salad (Ve)
This salad is a great way to use the summer vegetables from your garden or enjoy the variety of veggies from the local farmer’s market or supermarket. Colourful and nutritious, it can be served as a main or a side dish and is easy to make. Feel free to use different vegetables according to your taste. If you prefer your food vegetarian but not vegan, then consider adding feta, or your favourite cheese, to this dish.
Lemon Basil Dressing:
- ¼ cup (60ml) fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 small garlic cloves
- ¾ cup (23g) basil leaves
- ½ cup (120ml) cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
- Puree all dressing ingredients in a blender and set aside.
- 2 red bell peppers, halved with seeds removed
- 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
- 3 Portobello mushrooms
- 2 medium zucchinis, halved lengthwise
- 2 yellow squash, halved lengthwise
- 1 red onion, sliced thickly
- 1 jar of artichoke hearts in water (pat them dry before grilling)
- 1 can of chickpeas
- Sea salt and black pepper for seasoning
- 8 cups (240g) romaine, spinach or spring lettuce greens, chopped (optional)
- 2 ripe avocados, peeled and cubed
- Preheat barbecue grill to medium-high heat.
- Lightly brush the vegetables with salad dressing mixture. Save remaining dressing and set aside. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Grill each vegetable until it is cooked to your liking. Be careful to not overcook. Allow vegetables to cool, then chop into bite-sized chunks.
- Place lettuce or spinach on a large platter and drizzle lightly with some of the dressing. Toss to coat. Drain chickpeas and add to chopped vegetables. Drizzle the vegetables and chickpeas with some of the remaining dressing and arrange on top of the lettuce. Place avocado cubes with any final dressing and arrange on top. Toss and serve on individual salad plates.
Grilled Buffalo Cauliflower (V/Ve option)
This spicy grilled buffalo cauliflower has a great texture with a slightly smokey taste. Be sure to make plenty of it to satisfy your guests. I find there’s never any leftover!
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into medium florets
- 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into bite-size chunks
- 1/2 cup (112g) buffalo sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot Original Hot Sauce)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bunch of celery
- Blue cheese dressing (leave this out or use a vegan alternative to make this dish vegan)
- Preheat barbecue to medium-high heat.
- In a large bowl, toss cauliflower florets with buffalo sauce and olive oil.
- Cut celery into sticks and set aside.
- Season cauliflower with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Place florets and yellow peppers alternating on wooden skewers.
- Grill for 10-12 minutes, or until slightly charred and tender.
- Serve immediately with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing. Enjoy!
Vegan Black Bean Burgers (Ve)
Black bean burgers are a staple in vegan and vegetarian diets. Full of fibre and protein, they’re not only nutritious but they can be served and dressed up to your taste. You can top them with any condiments you like, making them a versatile and filling alternative to a hamburger.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups (270g) cooked quinoa (you can either buy this ready-to-use or cook it yourself)
- 2 cans (2x425g) black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup (60g) of panko breadcrumbs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a small frying pan, heat oil over medium heat, add onion and sauté for 5 – 7 minutes, or until translucent. Let onion cool.
- Using a food processor, add onions, quinoa, black beans, breadcrumbs, and spices. Pulse for a few seconds at a time. Be careful not to over-process. The mixture should have some texture and chunkiness.
- Place mixture in a mixing bowl. Using your hands, mix well.
- Form 4 round large balls, pressing mixture firmly. Flatten into patties about 3/4 inch thick. Smooth around the edges to seal any cracks.
- Place patties in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
- Brush patties with a light coating of olive oil and place on barbecue grill. Grill over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes. Carefully flip and cook on the other side for another 5 minutes.
- Serve on a bun, lettuce wrap or pitta bread and top with your favourite condiments.
Grilling without meat doesn’t have to be bland or boring and can ignite your creativity. Experiment with different spices, sauces, and marinades to bring out the flavour of the vegetables. I think you will find vegetarian grilling to be fast, fun, tasty and nutritious, all while being better for the planet.
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