Barbecues aren’t just for meat lovers! If you’re a vegetarian, you can still enjoy some great grilled food. Try these 6 vegetarian barbecue recipes and you’ll see what I mean.
1) Cherry Tomato-Onion-Mushroom-Sweet Pepper Kebabs With Brown Rice
Many vegetables taste delicious when grilled. The trick is to choose veggies that won’t fall apart on a grate and over high heat.
♥ Choose whole cherry tomatoes rather than tomato wedges, pearl onions rather than onion pieces, and small whole mushrooms rather than mushroom halves or quarters. Red or green bell peppers are ok to use quartered, since they’re so firm. Just don’t use slices that are too small.
♥ Wash and pat dry all the veggies you’re using, then marinate in either store-bought vinaigrette-style salad dressing or make your own out of 1 part olive oil, 3 parts red wine or balsamic vinegar, two cloves minced garlic, salt, and pepper, shaken to mix well.
♥ Marinate the vegetables whole for 20-30 minutes, then thread the marinated vegetables on skewers, alternating the four vegetables to create a pretty pattern on the skewer.
♥ Grill 7 minutes or so, then turn the skewers. Watch carefully so the veggies don’t burn. Either serve skewers individually, or use a fork to pull the veggies off the skewers.
♥ Toss together, then serve atop a bed of brown rice. NOTE: Substitute or add rounds of zucchini at least one-half inch thick, whole cauliflower florets, or other veggies you like that taste even better marinated and grilled.
2) Portobello Mushrooms
These big, meaty mushrooms are an entrée unto themselves. Serve them with herbed roasted potatoes as if they were steaks, slice them into green leafy salads, or put them between buns and call them a burger.
♥ Before grilling, wash them well, rubbing off any dirt remaining on both sides of the cap, and slice off the stems so the caps will fit flat on the grill.
♥ Marinate for about an hour since portobellos are so thick, choosing an olive oil and lemon or balsamic vinaigrette for flavor that won’t overwhelm, or a soy-based sauce if you want to serve a meal with Asian flare. Portobellos will cook up in ten minutes once you get them on the grill.
By the way, here’s our recent article on green barbecues in case yours needs an upgrade.
3) Grilled Zucchini Spears on Linguine
Grilled zucchini goes particularly well with fresh linguine tossed in a little olive oil and a smattering of red pepper flakes. Figure one medium sized zucchini per person.
♥ Trim each end, then slice each zucchini into quarters, lengthwise.
♥ Place in a casserole dish, drizzle in olive oil and squeeze in lemon juice, anticipating a tablespoon of oil and half a lemon for each zucchini.
♥ Sprinkle in salt and fresh ground pepper (you can also mix the oil, lemon, salt and paper in a bowl or jar, and then pour on the zucchini). Stir to coat, then cover the dish and marinate for 15 or 20 minutes.
♥ Grill over medium or medium-low heat, turning to grill all sides so the zucchini gets tender but not burned.
♥ Meanwhile, boil the linguine noodles until they are al dente. Drain well, then toss the noodles with a bit of olive oil and red pepper flakes if you like a little punch with your pasta. Turn the linguine onto a platter, and top with the grilled zucchini spears. If you like, squeeze a little more lemon on top of spears. Alternatively, serve a bowl of lemon wedges, along with fresh grated parmesan cheese.
4) Barbecued Tofu
Many vegetarians love this soy-based protein meat alternative especially when it’s grilled. You’ll want to use extra-firm tofu that won’t crumble on a grate or grill pan.
♥ To prepare it, press out the moisture (here’s how) then marinate it for at least 30 minutes or overnight in something OTHER than oil: seasoned balsamic vinegar, soy sauce or teriyaki sauce work great.
♥ If you really want a barbecue taste, marinate it in store-bought barbecue sauce, or make your own using 2 cups ketchup, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 3 TBSP brown sugar (add a little more if you like a sweeter sauce), minced onion, salt, 2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce, 2-3 tsp ground mustard. Please play with these quantities a little to bring out the flavors you prefer. Add water as needed for consistency. Combine sauce ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat until the flavors blend.
♥ When the sauce is cooled, cut the tofu into slabs no thicker than 1/2 inch. Marinate the tofu in the sauce, coating both sides. Grill for 4-5 minutes per side, brushing with additional sauce as needed. Serve with grilled corn on the cob, a fresh green salad, or potato salad, the same way you would barbecued chicken.
Alternatively, you can cut into the tofu and stuff with sautéed onions or cabbage as in the image above.
Burgers made from mashed beans do well on a grill as long as the patties are firm and hold together.
♥ I use 1 15-oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed; 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced; 1 tsp (or a little more) ground cumin; 1/2 tsp dried oregano; some cayenne; and salt and pepper to taste. You can also add grated carrots or corn kernels,.
♥ Pulse the beans in a food processor (or use a potato masher if doing by hand), then transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the herbs and seasonings; one large egg to help the mixture hold together (for vegans: a flax seed substitute works very well, too); abd enough breadcrumbs so the mixture holds together.
♥ Take about 1/4 cup of the mixture and flatten it into a patty about 1/2 inch thick. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before grilling (you can also make ahead and keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to grill.).
6) Grilled Panini Sandwich Bar
Panini are one of the simplest vegetarians meals to barbecue. All you need is a crusty bread that will hold up on the grill, some combination of your favorite vegetables, and a heavy pan to weight the panini down when it’s cooking.
♥ For breads, ciabatta works really well. So do kaiser rolls and onion rolls.
♥ If you’re having a party, set up a panini bar that includes two or three bread options, and then a variety of prepared ingredients: washed and dried spinach, thinly sliced tomatoes and onions, and pre-grilled zucchini rounds (choose large zucchini cut into rounds no more than 1/4 inch thick and grill until tender).
♥ Roasted red peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, and thin slices of cheddar, provolone, swiss, Muenster or pepper jack cheese add more variety.
♥ Baste the inside of the bread with balsamic vinegar and grill the basted sides for a minute or two before making the sandwiches.
♥ Let your guests pile up their own sandwich ingredients, then put them on the grill. Weigh each sandwich down with a heavy pot. Keep an eye on the sandwich to prevent burning. Serve with mustard and other condiments, plates of cured olives, coleslaw, and grilled sweet potato spears, prepared the way you prepared the zucchini spears but using canola oil in place of olive oil and skipping the lemon.
Improve Your Vegetarian Barbecue Recipes With These 5 Healthier Grilling Tips
1) Marinate – 20-30 minutes before you throw the food on the grill, marinate it to infuse with juiciness and flavor and prevent the food from drying out. You can find some good marinades here, or simply use a bottled salad dressing (Italian or Greek work well on a grill; ranch or thousand island don’t).
2) Baste – Add more flavor to whatever you’re grilling by basting on some additional sauce a couple of minutes before the food finishes cooking.
3) Oil the grill – Prevent sticking and burning by oiling the grill before you place the vegetables on it.
4) Use a grill pan – Rather than put veggies directly on a grill grate, use a shallow grill pan that has holes in the bottom to let heat and smoky flavor in but makes it easy to cook the food and then serve it.
5) Keep watch – Many a meal has been scorched beyond repair when the cook walks away from the grill. Vegetables can burn quickly. Keep an eye on them!