Meatless Barbecue Feasting

Grillin' like a (vegetarian) boss

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Barbecue season is upon us! Can you be vegetarian and still enjoy all the joys that barbecuing in the great outdoors brings? Absolutely!

Most of us are fairly comfortable preparing vegetarian meals like tofu stir fries and pasta with beans but barbecuing à la veggie can feel like a bit of a mystery. Though we traditionally think about the barbecue for burgers, steaks, chicken, and fish, there are lots of options for those who choose a vegetarian or plant-based diet.  Sure, you can always buy prepared veggie burgers or hot dogs. There are plenty of options out there, some of them tasty enough that even meat lovers won’t turn their noses up. Unfortunately, many of them can be highly processed, full of unfamiliar ingredients, and are usually loaded with salt. If you do find a healthier brand, keeping a package of frozen veggie dogs on hand for those last-minute barbecue invitations—or those nights when you don’t feel like cooking from scratch—is a great way to fire up a quick meal in a pinch.

But the barbecue isn’t just for meat (or even "meatless" meat) anymore! In fact, there are loads of options for vegetarians, or even just those who’d like to eat meat less often.

grilled tofu

Tofu on the grill!

Beyond just grilled vegetables, a quick-cooking and easy-to-prepare option is barbecued tofu or tempeh. All you need is some good quality prepared barbecue sauce and organic tofu. Simply cut the tofu into ½ inch thick blocks and marinate in the sauce for a few hours. The same can be done with tempeh!  If you want to switch things up a bit, substitute the barbecue sauce for a favourite marinade!

But don’t stop there! You can really grill more than just veggies and tofu! You can use the grill as you would the oven or stove.

Creative BBQ: veggie style!

Here are a few options for fun, vegetarian-friendly grilling:

  • Make veggie kebabs with cubes of tofu or halloumi cheese
  • Grill veggies to make vegetarian quesadillas and then warm prepared quesadillas on the grill
  • Prepare homemade pizza and cook on the grill
  • Buy a vegetable basket or use a wok to make a stir fry on the barbeque
  • Grill portobello mushrooms and use them as a stand-in for burgers
  • Grill sandwiches—try using flatbreads, panini, or even pita
  • Make homemade veggie burgers using chickpeas, black beans, or quinoa
  • Cut cooked polenta into thick slabs and grill

Hitting up friends’ barbecues

Since barbecues are famously meat-heavy, a gathering for a fire-cooked feast may find you at a carnivore's buffet, so it’s best to bring your own vegetarian option (unless you're satisfied with potato salad!). Offer to bring something—then everyone gets the pleasure of a little extra veggie goodness! If you're concerned with cooking your vegetarian option on a meat-covered grill when visiting friends’ houses, simply ask to have your meal grilled first. But be careful—the hungry crowd might just be even more game for your offering, so bring extra! 

Summer is a great opportunity to expand your veggie-loving barbecue skills. So get out there, turn that grill on, and start experimenting!

*Originally published July 5, 2017