Everyone loves a good summer barbecue, but vegetarians are often left hanging due to the popularity of grilling meat. Barbecues aren’t just for carnivores, though, as there is a variety of vegetarian-friendly meat substitutes available that taste great and are nutritious as well. Make every guest happy at your next barbecue by offering grilled vegetables—they’re great for carnivores too!
Barbecues have been a part of American culture for centuries, especially in the south. But as vegetarianism has caught on and fewer people consume meat products, barbecues have slowly begun to evolve. To help with your next vegetarian barbecue, here are a few of our favorite vegetarian foods to grill:
- Vegetables! Marinated portobellos are a healthy, delicious meat alternative with a satisfying texture and the perfect size for burger buns. Get creative with kebabs, arranging brightly colored bell peppers with zucchini and purple onions. Grilling eggplant slices will bring out their smoky, sweet flavor. Cut into bite size pieces after you’re done grilling for a delicious side dish.
- Veggie Burger: Veggie burgers have been one of the most popular meat alternatives for years. There are many different varieties and recipes for veggie burgers now, including gluten-free and soy-free versions. Grilling is actually the ideal way to cook veggie burgers to give them a crispy exterior and satisfying texture.
- Veggie Dog: Every barbecue needs a healthy amount of hot dogs, and the veggie hot dog is not only a good choice for vegetarians, but carnivores alike. Veggie dogs are remarkably healthy, especially compared to their mystery-meat filled cousin.
- Grilled Tofu: Tofu may not seem like a food that can be grilled, but grilled tofu is actually one of the more flavorful meat substitutes around, when prepared correctly. First, press as much water as you can out of a block extra-firm tofu by slicing into 1” strips and sqeezing with paper towels.You can them marinate with soy sauce, liquid smoke, lime, garlic, teriyaki sauce, and so on. Tofu is basically a blank slate that will really absorb the flavors, so get creative. On the grill, be sure to watch it carefully to get a crispy exterior. When it looks ready, pour the rest of the marinade over the tofu and cook for an additional minute before serving.
Vegetarian Side Dishes
While meat products dominate the main course at barbecues, side dishes are usually made out of vegetables. While side dishes are often vegetarian friendly, there are more unique side dishes that you can make for your next barbecue.
Watermelon side salad is a delicious summer treat that can be made quickly for a vegetarian barbecue. Dice the watermelon and add chunks of feta cheese and sliced sweet onion, then stir together. Add diced mint to the mixture and top it with a mixture of one part olive oil, one part balsamic vinegar, and one part red wine vinegar to get a nutritious summer treat that will cleanse your palate between your protein rich veggie burger or dog.
Another satisfying vegetarian side dish is sun dried tomatoes and hummus, with crackers and raw vegetables to dip. You can easily make your own hummus at home using canned chickpeas, although if you want a traditional hummus side dish, you might want to prepare fresh chickpeas yourself.
If you are planning ahead for the first vegetarian barbecue of the season and are in need of more recipe ideas, check out Sun Basket’s cookbook.