There’s no reason to overlook the delights of cooking outside if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, and there’s certainly no reason to stick to tried-and-tested vegetarian burgers and sausages, either.
Choosing to buy organic and locally-produced fruit and vegetables should ensure you get the very best for your grill and will help support local farmers. If you’re lucky enough to live near a farmer’s market or a local organic farmer, you should be able to pick up fantastically fresh, tasty, and good value seasonal fruit and vegetables. Always try to eat in season to ensure your food hasn’t been stored for longer than necessary. Seasonal fruit and vegetables are packed with nutrients, are a lot tastier, and are better for the planet.
Grilling is a great way of cooking vegetables because it’s healthy, fun, and an activity all of the family can take part in. Be sure to serve plenty of fresh salads and some rolls alongside and enjoy a healthy, low-fat alfresco meal.
Start by making a marinade. Simply mix olive oil with a little lemon juice, then add fresh herbs, chili, or crushed garlic to your tastes. Soy sauce or balsamic vinegar are nice additions, too, or try harissa or chilli paste for something spicy! If you’re using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them overnight to minimise the risk of splinters.
Or you could skewer vegetables on stripped sprigs of rosemary to impart a little extra flavour. Good vegetables for grilling include sweet pepper, aubergine, courgette, tomato, mushroom, red onion, asparagus, sweetcorn, and sweet potato. Be aware that some vegetables, such as aubergines and mushrooms, tend to soak up a lot of flavour, so it’s best to limit the marinade time of these to avoid overpowering the natural flavour.
The Main Meal
Large flat field mushrooms are excellent on the grill. Spread a little pesto, or olive or tomato tapenade, over them before grilling gill-side up. Or you can make your own garlic ‘butter’ with roasted garlic and margarine – simply spread this lightly over the mushrooms, adding more as they cook if necessary. Served the ‘mushroom burgers’ in warmed buns with rings of red onion and some fresh organic salad leaves.
New potatoes should be skewered and given a liberal brushing of olive oil with herbs (rosemary really shines here) before grilling, or you could bake a potato or sweet potato in foil in the smouldering coals for a side dish. Try alternating potato and vegan sausage on a kebab.
Stuff peppers or large, par-boiled onions with a cooked grain and your favourite mixture of cooked vegetables (try Mediterranean vegetables with basil and pine nuts) and grill until soft.
To grill sweetcorn, peel back the husks, remove the silk, then rub the corn with margarine and tie the husks back over the corn. Cook the corn around the outside of the grill for about 20 minutes. If you need it to cook quicker, try soaking it in cold water for thirty minutes beforehand, or blanch it in hot water.
Tofu well deserves its place on the vegan BBQ, too. Choose a good, firm, organic brand, and marinade it well (overnight is best!) before grilling.
Serve in rolls, or as a kebab with vegetables.
As the perfect finish for your meal, try threading fruit onto skewers – pineapple, peaches, pear, and apple all work well. Some fruits, such as peach, nectarine, and apple, can simply be sliced in half, grilled, and served with a scoop of vegan ice cream or sorbet for a simple dessert.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could try putting some stoned, ripe cherries in a foil pouch on the grill and serve them over vanilla vegan ice cream.
So why not fire up the barbecue, cast iron chimenea, or firepit this year? As long as you have the time for a little preparation, you’ll be able to get the family and friends around a barbecue and enjoy a delicious, home-cooked meal alfresco.
And it’s well worth considering signing up to a local veg-box scheme or creating a vegetable plot in your own garden. You need surprisingly little space, and you can have as much fun growing your food as you can cooking and eating it!
Additional Vegan BBQ Resources:
Brightening up the Vegan BBQ
Beyond Veggie Burgers: Organic Vegan Barbecue Ideas