What To Grill to Include Vegetarians At Your Next BBQ
Vegetarianism is part of a healthy lifestyle for many people that includes the choice not to consume animal products and by-products like meat. I love animals, they’re cute and neat, and as a kid growing up, I wanted to save them all. The only problem was that I also enjoyed meals that included meat. Now, as an adult, and a professional (self-professed) meat-a-tarian I sometimes find it challenging to grill for vegetarians. If you feel your vegetarian cooking is a little too garden variety - here are some tips. Because we all know that a salad won’t start that conga line to the buffet. These pointers will help you prepare a feast that will include your veg friends as well as those looking to reduce meat in their diets.
What Types of Vegetarianism are There?
Eating as a vegetarian can require creativity to ensure that you get all of the nutrients you need. Knowing what you can and cannot include in a barbecue for vegetarian guests plays a large part in planning a delicious meal that all of your guests can enjoy.
Vegitarian - is a person who consumes a diet that contains no meat or animal products.
Lacto/Lacto-Ovo Vegitarian - Does not consume red or white meat, fish, fowl, however, they do eat dairy products like milk and cheese and, in the case of lacto-ovo, eggs.
Vegan - Does not eat animal products or animal by-products meaning that they do not consume any meat, dairy, eggs, or by-products being things like honey and gelatin.
Pescatarian - This type of vegetarianism allows the person to consume only fish and seafood meats, forgoing all other animal proteins.
Allergy - In rare cases, consumption of meat protein can cause allergic reactions. If this is the case, special food handling will need to happen.
**Meat-atarian - Is a person who consumes a diet that contains all meat or animal products and tends to avoid fruit and vegetables.
**Sea-atarian - Is a person who consumes only things from the sea, everything and all creatures lurking under the sea... sorry sebastien.
Knowing the specific needs of your vegetarian guests helps with planning. Knowing whether you can cook your food on the same grill at the same time, if a good cleaning will do, or in the case of an allergy if special considerations need to be made. Remember to have a separate pair of tongs just for vegetarian food. Mark these with a rubber band to ensure there are no mix-ups. You can also grill prepare your meal in a cast iron insert or pan, a grill wok, and even on the Himalayan Salt Platter to provide interesting preparations and flavors to your meal.
What to Grill
There are meat alternatives like veggie-ground, which can be used like meat to make burgers. Some of these alternatives come pre-packaged and prepared for consumption. Read the directions thoroughly, however, as they will tell you if you can barbecue them or not. Meat alternatives sometimes don’t behave exactly the same as meat will, so pay attention when cooking and remember to use oil on whatever surface you are cooking on.
Tofu is a product made from soy and can be a great alternative to meat protein because it flavors easily, absorbing the theme of the spices and seasonings you are using in your menu. You can grill it like a steak or stick it on a skewer. It resembles a brick of feta. For grilling purposes, you want to get unflavored, extra firm tofu. Consider marinating and seasoning in the same flavors you are treating the meat with – just remember to use a separate container.
Tofu can be used in dessert applications too! Blend soft, dessert-style tofu with melted dark chocolate and coconut cream (the thick stuff in a can of coconut milk) and chill in a pie crust for a nearly instant and amazing chocolate pie.
Grilled Cheese... Yes Please!
While you can’t just toss a brick of cheddar directly onto the BBQ (though you should try some swiss or gouda on the rotisserie over roasting potatoes), there are a couple of cheeses that can go on the barbecue. These cheeses provide a delightful addition to any grilled meal. Paneer and Halloumi are both ideal for this and they can be used as a bun, on skewers, and even just grilled in blocks like a small steak.
Paneer - A fresh, unaged, farmer cheese popular in India. Great for the grill because it doesn’t melt!
Halloumi - A cheese made from goat and sheep’s milk. This semi-hard cheese is brined but unripened. Great for the grill because of its very high melting point.
You should also try frying these cheeses as well!
A good meal can have a great salad, but your guests should not have that alone to subside on. Don’t forget to give grilled vegetables a larger place on your menu than usual. Not only is this a great way to fill all of your guest’s bellies with amazing BBQ cuisine, but it’s less expensive than purchasing a tonne of meat. You may also be surprised to find you like those veggies too. When grilling any vegetables try to ensure that they’re cut to a similar size/shape to promote even cooking. Remember to put the stuff that takes longest (carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, etc.) on first and the stuff that takes less time (mushrooms, onions, zucchini) on last.
What kinds of veggies can take a larger role on the table? Why not try...
A baked potato bar – all the fixings and options for everyone
Baked sweet potatoes
Sweet potato toast – think avocado toast but using grilled sweet potato as the bread
Portobello mushrooms – great as burgers or steaks for vegetarians
Roasted peppers, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, etc. tossed in a light oil and vinegar dressing
Mind the Gaps:
Every meal should be well balanced, even your delicious barbecue. Include grains, quinoa, rice, and couscous with the meal to ensure that there is loads to eat for all of your guests.
There's Always Room for Dessert:
Grilled fruit is great after the main event. When grilled, the sugars caramelize creating amazing flavors. Stone fruits – peaches, nectarines, plums, pineapple – with those uber-enzymes, apples – which love a little smoke, are all a great start. Paired with a coconut or rice-based frozen dessert or whipped topping will have all of your guests clamoring for seconds.
The next time you’re planning on cooking steak with a side of ribs and find out you have vegetarians attending, don’t panic about your picnic because you’ve read this article and are totally prepared!
Tell us about your adventures and favorite recipes when grilling for different lifestyles, like vegetarian, on our social pages like Facebook and Instagram using the hashtags #VeggieBBQ and #NapoleonGrill.