Your summer barbeque
Enjoying a vegan summer bbq!
BBQs are all about mixing and mingling with our family and friends, enjoying holidays, sunshine, swimming and socials.
And vegans can do all that AND cook up a feast on the backyard BBQ! Read on for our tips on making a cruelty-free, crowd-pleasing summer BBQ.
There are plenty of delicious protein options which also keep cruelty off your plate.
Burgers: From the current spotlight hog, the Beyond Burger, and other import staples from the likes of Fry’s, Linda McCartney and Quorn, through to more locally made options like Bean Supreme’s Beetroot Burger or Vegie Delights’ Smokey BBQ Burger.
Handmade options using beans, lentils, veggies and TVP can be just as flavoursome and often more nutritious than anything on the shelves.
Sausages: As with burgers, the available meat-free sausage options in stores have exploded recently. If you can find it, the Beyond Sausage is a winner (literally). Fry’s Braai sausages also cook up particularly well on the grill, and Vegie Delights does an unbeatable plant-based hotdog. They are a little harder to find, but any sausage by Field Roast — and especially the Mexican Chipotle variety — will give any gourmet meat-based snarler a run for its money.
Other: If replicating animal products isn’t really for you, there are other great vegan protein options for the barbie. Tofu makes an excellent addition to the grill; be sure you buy the firm variety (so it doesn’t fall apart mid-cook), press as much water out of it as you can before cooking and marinate and/or glaze it to take advantage of its flavour absorbing powers.
Tofu’s lesser-known cousin, tempeh is also a fantastic barbeque candidate. Made of fermented soybeans, tempeh has a denser texture and stronger flavour than tofu. While it’s naturally nutty taste might not be for everyone, it can be flavoured with a marinade or spice rub and cooked to smokey perfection on the barbeque.
Not as well known for taking up space on the grill, falafel makes a surprisingly good showing when barbequed. Add a little Middle Eastern flavour to your feast with rolled falafel balls that crisp up beautifully outside, while the herb and spice infused chickpea dough remains soft and delicious inside.
Cooking tip: All of these vegan proteins cook up wonderfully on the barbeque, but they don’t act exactly the same as meat does. Most of these plant-based items don’t have as much fatty juices as meat, which is great for your health, but not so great when it comes to sticking to the grill.
Before you start cooking up your plant-based feast, ensure the grill has been cleaned thoroughly, removing any of the baked-on remnants of past cookouts. Then brush or spray a small amount of oil across the surface you’ll be using — that way your delicious vegan morsels won’t stick when it comes time for flipping.
This is where the vegan griller really shines. There is a huge range of vegetables that make perfect barbeque fodder. They add colour, nutrition and variety to a meal and taste just phenomenal.
Below is a list of vegetables that will go down a treat at any sunny summer feed:
Eggplant: Lovers of eggplant’s unique flavour will enjoy it straight on the grill, but for those who might be wary, a little dressing up can be nice. Eggplant absorbs flavour like crazy, so try it with a BBQ marinade or miso glaze
Courgette: A quick cooker that is great chopped into sabs, or slid onto a skewer as part of a kebab
Mushrooms: Juicy portobellos are the undisputed fungi kind of the barbie, but all kinds taste great with the smokey grill treatment
Cauliflower: Cut into thick slabs and rub with a tasty spice mix for a cauliflower ‘steak’ that grills perfectly
Kumara: An easy crowd pleaser that can go straight on the grill in slices, or be fancied up with stuffing and wrapped in foil for a more impressive treatment
Potatoes: Needing a little more cook time than it’s sweeter kumara cousin, potatoes will benefit from parboiling before they hit the grill. Baby potatoes are a good pick; sweet, creamy and already bite-sized.
Asparagus: Wrapped in foil with a little lemon and salt or popped right on the cook, asparagus is a barbeque treat. Just be sure to soak it for about 30 minutes before cooking for maximum tenderness
Corn on the cob: Not even the most closed-minded meat eater can turn a nose up at this staple; cooked in the husk, wrapped in foil or straight on the grill, you can’t beat char-grilled corn
Peppers: Another veggie that’s great grilled straight but even greater when stuffe. All colours of peppers are a treat on the barbeque; try experimenting with herbs, spices, chopped veggies, beans and plant-based cheese for stuffing
Brussel sprouts: You might just change some young minds if you let them sample this maligned veggie after a good grilling; crispy, nutty, tender and flavourful
Onions: Nothing brightens a nostril’s day more than the smell of onions cooking. Red onions go particularly well cut into rings, or a foil package of chopped onions, garlic and herbs will spruce up any dish
Woah there, fruit on the barbie you say? Indeed we do. You’ve already got the grill out, why not let dessert benefit from the cookout treatment too.
Pineapple rings are a sweet favourite, either as an accompaniment to a main meal or part of a delightful dessert. The crispy, charred surface gives way to sweet, warm juices within — yum.
The same goes for apple and pear slices, they both make sweet, juicy additions to salads or other sides, or can be topped with cinnamon, brown sugar or maple syrup for a decadent fruity dessert.
Watermelon is another surprisingly versatile barbeque fruit. Paired with a bit of mint, it can lighten up a heavier salad, or just be enjoyed on its smokey, refreshing lonesome.
- If you are barbequing for a mixed crowd of vegans and non-vegans, separation is the key to harmony. Many vegans do not want to eat plant-based food that has been cooked in the juices of meat products. If you have the space, use one grill for meat and the other for non-meat dishes
- If that’s not possible, you’ll either want to cook the plant-based food first, followed by the meat, or use foil wrap to keep the vegan foods away from the meat runoff
- Remember, just because barbequed foods taste brilliant by themselves it doesn’t mean they have to remain that way. Many grilled veggies make a wonderful addition to salads, pastas and soups
- Nobody wants to be stressed at the barbie, so take the time pressure off by preparing your sauces, marinades, spice rubs and dressings before the day of the cook up