While many grill all year round, the most popular day to BBQ in America remains the Fourth of July. Even if you’re in the 75 percent of people who have smokers or grills at home, they can be intimidating to use if you’ve only ever flipped meaty burgers. Since summer is a plant-eaters paradise, there’s no better time to fire up the grill with one of these plant-based ideas in mind. And for those of you (the 25 percent) without grills, green space or weather that cooperates with a cookout, we’ve got some tips on how to bring your BBQ inside.
Thread up a rainbow of veggies. While some vegetables take longer than others to cook, a little crunch in your brussels sprouts can be preferred. However, to ensure your veggies are equally tender, follow these steps.
- Half cook firmer veggies by parboiling or blanching. Plants like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, corn and potatoes do well when partially cooked and finished on the grill or under the broiler. When ready to grill, brush them with a high-smoke-point oil like refined coconut oil, ghee or avocado oil, and grill for one to two minutes per side.
- Grill tender veggies like mushrooms, tomatoes and zucchini with similar vegetables that need very little grilling time. In turn, combine dense vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, bell peppers and onions as they need or tolerate more time on the grill.
While you can coat veggie kabobs in a marinade before grilling, tossing cooked vegetables with vinegar or citrus, herbs, spices or a drizzle of oil lets the softened, grilled plants soak in all the flavor without tasting oily or overpowering.
As Leah Vanderveldt says, “Against all odds, veggie burgers are having a moment.” And she’s right: They’re in every restaurant, cookbook and grocery store. And while Leah suggests playing around with a version of your own, she shares her recipe for Black Bean & Beet Burgers from her cookbook The New Nourishing in the Lunds & Byerly’s Real Food summer 2018 issue.
Leah’s burger recipe, as well as many of these Pinterest picks, are the perfect summer, plant-based fare for those without grills because homemade veggie burgers tend to crumble when uncooked and set on a grate. Pan frying veggie burgers gives them a crispy coating, and finishing them in the oven cooks them all the way through.
Perhaps the best thing about a veggie burger like A Couple Cook’s Falafel Burger we made above is that you can make them ahead of time. Can you reheat them on the grill? We say, yes! Grill or toast your buns, reheat your pre-cooked burgers in the oven (or on the grill by searing a few grill marks on each side), add a cucumber and tomato slice, slather some sauce on top and you have a make-ahead, plant-based BBQ plan that doesn’t require you to chef all night long.
Vegetable Steaks, Slices and Sauces
Slice vegetables like cauliflower into steaks, whole thin carrots in half or zucchinis cut lengthwise, creating a flat surface area to grill. Brush or rub vegetable pieces with a high-smoke-point oil, cook until light grill marks sear the surface and turn until veggies are just tender. Most raw vegetables take about 10-15 minutes total.
Lastly, consider these delicious and healthful sauces to take any of these plant-based recipes to the next level in pure satisfaction.
- Sunshine Tahini Sauce via The First Mess
- Siracha-Tahini via Naturally Ella
- Easy Chimichurri Sauce via The Minimalist Baker
For more ways to eat this summer, check out our 5 Pantry Essentials for Simple Summer Cooking.