Summer has arrived! And with summer’s arrival comes the smell of smoldering charcoal and roasting hot dogs, the sound of sizzling burgers and ice clinking around glasses of sangria. Barbecues are, in my humble opinion, one of the best parts of the season. They’re a time where you can sit in a patio chair next to your friends, eat some delicious barbecued goods and soak in the sunshine as you sip a cold beer.
As a vegetarian, I’ve encountered a whole deal of awkwardness through my many veggie-barbequing years. “What will you eat?” “Will you eat anything that touches the grill?” “Why don’t you just try ONE hamburger?”
My friends, there are tons of delicious options for vegetarians during barbeque season! We’ll always find something to eat – we’re usually pretty creative – but I’ve put together 3 recipes for some of my favorite meat-free barbecue delights here. I’ve attended barbeques where everyone in attendance was animal product free, and we’ve still managed to serve up a huge, satisfying spread for all to enjoy. Most “vegetarian” options I make please the vegans and carnivores alike, so heat up the grill, throw some extra charcoal on the pit, and grill away!
Black Bean Burgers
One year, a large group of my friends and I were hiking in the Adirondack mountains. We needed to come up with a meal that could potentially feed a dozen hungry hikers with scarce amounts of money, supplies, and effort. And Voila! My black bean burgers were born. These were such a hit that people were grabbing them off the tray as fast as I could make them – I had to hide one so I could eat when I was finished!
The best vegetarian “Burger” is a burger that’s not trying to be a burger at all. These really should be called Bean Patties of Deliciousness.
2 cans of black beans
1 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs
½ onion (finely diced)
½ green bell pepper (finely diced)
1 clove garlic (minced)
½ jalepeno (finely diced)
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Makes 8 paties.
1. In a mixing bowl, mash beans into a paste with a potato masher.
2. Add eggs, breadcrumbs, potatoes and onions. *Note that you can leave the eggs out for our vegans out there. The burgers won’t stick together quite as well, but they’ll still work out.
3. Mix in spices and jalepeno to taste.
4. Form small patties (3 inches in diameter). Fry in a pan with oil of choice or grill until crispy on both sides.
5. Enjoy! Top with desired toppings, and toss on a whole wheat bun.
My mom and I are always trying to come up with fun plant based barbeque options, and I have to credit my mom’s bountiful creativity for these beautiful vegetable skewers. The colors are so appetizing, everyone at the BBQ will grab one before you can even take a picture.
You can go crazy and use any vegetables you want for these skewers. We’ve found that the ones that hold up the best on the grill are miniature red and yellow peppers (they’re about 1 ½ inches long), small red potatoes, baby bella mushrooms, and regular green, red and orange peppers. If you’re feeling adventurous, put on some jalapenos! (Just make sure you warn your guests about them – we’ve had some jalapeno tear incidents). The larger peppers need to be chopped into 1 ½ by 1 ½ inch squares.
1. Arrange your vegetables of choice on long skewers in alternating patterns, being sure to leave at least an inch of space on both sides of the skewers.
2. Drizzle the skewers with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.
*Bonus! Add your favorite herbs. We used fresh oregano from the garden.
3. Roast on the grill until potatoes are soft.
*We found that the best way to ensure all the veggies were cooked properly was to put the skewers on the grill for 10 minutes and then putting them into an oven preheated to 350 for 20 more minutes.
Grilled Portebella Mushrooms
Grilled porteballa mushrooms are tried and true. Everyone loves them, everyone will be pleased with them. The best part is that there are so many variations! You can take the basic grilled portebella mushroom and fill the cap with spinach and feta cheese, gorgonzola, roasted red peppers, or literally anything else your heart desires.
A portabella mushroom cap can be grilled as is, brushed with oil and roasted on the grill until tender. You can treat them just like any other “burger” – toss them on a bun and top with any favorite barbecue extras.
But my favorite basic portebella mushroom recipe by far is my mom’s. It could actually even be my aunt’s recipe, considering she has dubbed herself “The Mushroom Queen” (a title rightly deserved). No matter where this brilliant recipe came from, these mushrooms are a staple at all of our family barbeques and I’d be lost without it.
8 Portabella mushroom caps
1 bottle of Italian Salad Dressing
Dash of Cayenne Pepper
2 Large Ziploc bags
1. Gently place four of the mushrooms in each bag. Be careful! Portabella mushrooms are as delicate as they are delicious.
2. Pour half of the Italian dressing into each bag. Sprinkle some cayenne pepper in each bag.
*The cayenne is optional of course, I recognize that not all families enjoy the spiciness as much as mine!
3. Let mushrooms soak overnight, or at least 8 hours.
4. Remove from bag, keeping extra marinade.
5. Grill until tender, turning the mushrooms half way through. Drizzle remaining marinade over mushrooms as they grill.
6. Top with your favorite fixings and enjoy!
And there you have it! Three super simple recipes to get you started on the path to a vegetarian friendly barbeque. As I’ve mentioned, these recipes will make everyone happy – from the long vegan cousin to the steak loving uncle. Good luck, and happy barbecue sea
~ veggie ambassador