The following is a guest post from Laura Phillips, a vegan and outdoor living enthusiast who writes for chimineashop.co.uk.
A great vegetarian or vegan BBQ is surprisingly easy to cook up, and offers a refreshing change to traditional BBQs. The best vegan BBQ shifts the focus of the meal onto the vegetables and should comprise a wide selection of smaller dishes rather than a few vegan burgers or sausages.
Grilling is one of the best ways to cook vegetables, as it helps preserve nutrients, imparts a subtly smoking flavour, and lets you experiment with marinades, dips, and different combinations of vegetables. It’s a healthy – not to mention fun! – way of cooking.
Since the vegetables are really the star of the show, select the best you can find for your BBQ. If you’re lucky enough to live near a farmer’s market or a local organic farmer, you should be able to pick up fresh and good value seasonal fruit and vegetables, so make the most of them.
Some fruit and vegetables might stick to the grill, so brush the grill lightly with vegetable oil just before you start cooking. If you’re catering for more than a couple of people, make sure that there are plenty of rolls, dips, and drinks available, and set out several different salads, including green leaf salads and potato or pasta salads. If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them overnight in cold water before use to minimise the risk of splintering.
Make a few different marinades. You can soak the vegetables briefly before grilling, or brush them with the marinade during grilling. The most basic marinade consists of olive oil with a little lemon juice, to which you can add fresh herbs, chili, or crushed garlic to suit your taste. Soy sauce or balsamic vinegar are nice additions, too, or try harissa or chili paste for something spicy. Try adding a little sugar to the marinade to help the vegetables caramelise on the grill. Tofu (a firm, organic brand is best) does well marinaded overnight, and is best served in rolls, or on a kebab with vegetables. A simple soy sauce marinade is good for tofu and results in a strong, savoury taste and lovely colour.
Good vegetables for grilling include sweet pepper, aubergine, courgette, tomato, mushroom, red onion, asparagus, sweetcorn, and sweet potato.
Large field mushrooms (brush with marinade of your choice, grill and serve in a warmed roll with some green salad) and sweetcorn (soak in cold water for 20 minutes before grilling to speed up cooking time) are a must!
New potatoes should be skewered and given a liberal brushing of olive oil with herbs (rosemary and garlic work really well) before grilling, or you could bake a potato or sweet potato in foil in the smouldering coals for a side dish (cut these up, part-cook them in the microwave, or use smaller potatoes to speed up the process).
Stuffed peppers, mushrooms and onions look very impressive and are quite simple to assemble. Filling ideas usually involve cooked diced vegetables, a grain (such as rice cooked in vegetable stock), and breadcrumbs. To save time, try cooking these in the oven or microwave and transferring them to the grill to finish off.
We’ve all tried vegetable kebabs, but what about fruit kebabs? Thread firmer fruits such as pineapple, peaches, pear, and apple, onto skewers. 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. Plums are great, too. The only limitation is your own inventiveness!
As long as you have the time for a little preparation, you’ll be able to cook up a fantastic, eco-friendly, animal-friendly BBQ for the whole family. So why not fire up the bbq chiminea or fire bowl this summer and make the most of it?
BBQ.co.uk – lots of great vegetable BBQ recipes.
VegWeb – a site full of user-submitted recipes, including lots of ideas for BBQ mushrooms.
Additional Vegan BBQ Resources:
Vegbox Recipes – Brightening up the Vegan BBQ
Beyond Veggie Burgers: Organic Vegan Barbecue Ideas
BBQ Ideas for Vegans
Photos courtesy PhotoXpress.com