Barbecue Options for Vegetarians

When it gets as hot as it’s going to be this week I usually end up doing a lot of barbecuing because it’s no fun being in a hot kitchen. Barbecue cannot be done alone, so I usually end up inviting some friends over to throw things on the fire and drink beer.

Some of my friends are vegetarians and I am sort of hitting a wall as far as options for them. We’ve done marinated portabella mushrooms, sweet potatoes marinated in Soy Vey teriyaki sauce and thrown on the grill, marinated pineapple, marinated aspargus, etc. but it’s getting kind of boring. I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions, especially something that has a bit of protein in it. I’m kind of scared of the fake hotdogs, and I haven’t had much luck with the veggieburgers I’ve run across.

I would appreciate any advice you may have, excluding “don’t invite vegetarians to a barbecue.”

23 Comments so far

  1. pdxrocket (unregistered) on July 9th, 2007 @ 3:25 pm

    well yeah it’s boring…isn’t that what being a vegetarian is all about?

  2. Daaaaave (unregistered) on July 9th, 2007 @ 3:25 pm

    Grilled rice balls? Either Asian style with soy sauce in the center or Italian risotto balls with cheese. Could also do ears of corn or maybe vegetarian chili in cast iron.

    Roast some peppers and after you remove the skin, slice it open so it lies flat. Stuff it with, say…mushroom couscous and roll it up into vegetarian involtini. Top with any old primavera sauce. You can also do this with eggplant or summer squash.

  3. Himself (unregistered) on July 9th, 2007 @ 3:30 pm

    First, a disclaimer: I’m vegetarian.

    The bottom line, really, is that grills are made for cooking meat. Vegetable protein (grains and legumes) are ill-suited to chainsaw-and-blowtorch culinary techniques.

    The best bet (I shudder to suggest) is some kind of veggie burger that starts out frozen solid. Or you might try marinated tempeh kabobs. Forget about tofu and mushrooms if you invite me. (I don’t know why it’s always assumed that vegetarians like tofu and mushrooms. And vegetarian lasagna.)

    Or better yet, just have lots of good side dishes. Baked beans (veggie, of course), pasta salad, etc. I personally always have a snack before going to a barbecue in anticipation of limited veggie options anyway.

  4. Aaron B. Hockley (unregistered) on July 9th, 2007 @ 3:31 pm

    Vegetables? That’s what my food eats!

  5. Jay (unregistered) on July 9th, 2007 @ 3:35 pm

    Soy Vey rocks. As for other options, you can always throw down with some grilled polenta, or stuff mushrooms, peppers, and tomatoes with falafelesque veggie meal. Or ignore my suggestions and just Google it.

  6. Kai (unregistered) on July 9th, 2007 @ 3:39 pm

    Thanks for the great ideas! I always forget about doing polenta. I’m going to have to try that with some carmalized onions and some sort of sauce. I usually just end up doing a lot of side dishes, especially pumpkin enchiladas that actually taste a lot better than they sound.

  7. Mike (unregistered) on July 9th, 2007 @ 3:40 pm

    There are many, many options here. I’ve found great success grilling the Quorn fake chicken products, especially their unbreaded cutlets. You can get these at Fred Meyer or New Seasons. I just grilled some marinaded in a whiskey BBQ sauce last night.

    Also, the Gardenburger Flame-Grilled version does great on the grill. And most of the veggie dogs are pretty indistinguishable from the meat ones (my aunt is a VP at Oscar Meyer and told me that their meat dogs are about 85% soy protein anyways!) Just brush a little oil on the fake meat products and don’t leave them unattended for 15 minutes and they’ll do just fine.

    I recently got a stone to do pizzas on the grill too.

    I also do many types of kabobs, eggplant, potatoes and veggies wrapped in foil, fresh corn… you name it. One of the laziest foodie opinions to have is that vegetarians have limited options. No, they can’t eat the steak. BFD. They have literally hundreds of other things they can grill, even without counting all the fake meat options. I commend you for trying to find some new dishes!

  8. divebarwife (unregistered) on July 9th, 2007 @ 3:55 pm

    There’s also this crazy cheese that is meant especially for grilling – it doesn’t melt – it gets kind of warm and soft, but stays in nice chucks to just have as part of a kabob or veggie mix or with bread….it’s really good – I don’t remember what it’s called – but you can get it at Zupans or New Seasons or probably any of the other hippie stores.

  9. Himself (unregistered) on July 9th, 2007 @ 4:18 pm

    well yeah it’s boring…isn’t that what being a vegetarian is all about?

    Considering there are some half a billion vegetarians in India (yes, that’s more than the total population of the US of A), I think it’s safe to say in general that vegetarians have a more interesting and varied diet than meat eaters.

    There’s nothing inherently interesting about centering a meal around a piece of meat.

  10. Lizzy (unregistered) on July 9th, 2007 @ 4:28 pm

    The cheese that grills is called Halloumi – the grilling cheese of Greece. It’s fabulous!

  11. beerick (unregistered) on July 9th, 2007 @ 4:44 pm

    tempeh is great, tofu sticks something awful. I did a bunch of pizzas last night, and they were all vegetarian and tasty. And I don’t use a pizza stone. I oil the dough after rolling it out, but sometimes I don’t even do that. Never had one stick.

    Other things to try…wrap stuff in corn husks a la tamales. Grill pineapple, do a margarite thing throwing the tomato right on the grill with cheese and basil on it. Polenta rounds with some hard salty cheese. Wrap some tofu, sprouts, sauce, and spices in cabbage. Marinate some fresh green beans in soy and chili sauce.

    Chainsaw and blowtorch techniques? There’s tons of subtlety, skill and creativity available for grilling. Just lay your beans perpendicular to the grill.

    Lastly, Soy Vey is crap IMHO. Save your cash and make your own…equal parts honey and soy sauce, and some rice wine vinegar, say 1/4 cup of each. Make it up from there.

  12. Daaaaave (unregistered) on July 9th, 2007 @ 4:45 pm

    Only a vegetarian can twist logic around so that denial of meat somehow becomes “more varied”.

  13. bronto (unregistered) on July 9th, 2007 @ 5:49 pm

    it’s nice that you’re considering your vegetarian guests.

    i love tofu pups “hot dogs.” riblets are liked by me, a veg friend, and our two omnivorous boyfriends. i think morning star makes a veggie burger called “grillers” that are tasty, and good for barbequeing.

    i would not personally be pleased by quorn. i was willing to overlook the wait-WHAT-is-it factor if it tasted good, but i didn’t like the taste. kinda sour.

  14. michelle (unregistered) on July 9th, 2007 @ 7:35 pm

    The last time I went to a barbecue where my husband and I were the only vegetarians I made paninis with basil mayonnaise, provolone and tomatoes on French bread brushed w/ olive oil. I wrapped them in foil and grilled 3 minutes on each side w/ a foil wrapped brick on top to press them and get all melty. Many of the other burger eating guests wished they had our sandwiches when that basilly, cheesy aroma wafted about. Vegans can substitute soy mayo and cheese. Tasty with pesto too.

  15. Jonny (unregistered) on July 10th, 2007 @ 9:27 am

    I’ve been a veggie for several years now and from having been a fierce meat-eater. Personally, I love all the fake meat products from the soy dogs to most of the Morning Star line. My newest favorite is the Morning Star Spicy Black Bean burger, it tastes freakin’ amazing and grills like a dream.

    However, I think the mere fact that you are going to any effort to accomidate your guests will be noticed and very much appreciated, I know I would.

  16. Miz J (unregistered) on July 10th, 2007 @ 9:41 am

    Grilling & barbecuing are not synonymous. If you are cooking over direct heat, you’re not barbecuing – you’re grilling. Barbecue takes many hours to do right, and there is smoke involved. I suppose there are some veggies that one might barbecue, but I think you’d end up with a mess in most cases.

    The more accurate term for a get-together with grilled food would be a “cookout”, not a barbecue.

    Yes, I’m being pedantic. But Alton Brown would back me up.

  17. Kai (unregistered) on July 10th, 2007 @ 9:59 am

    Miz J I appreciate your comment, and actually do know the difference between barbecuing and grilling. “Thrill of the Grill” is one of my bibles and of course Alton Brown is a god. It’s just sort of awkward to ask people over to a “grill.”

  18. TKrueg (unregistered) on July 10th, 2007 @ 10:39 am

    Only an out-of-towner would refer to New Seasons and Zupans as ‘hippie stores’. Whatever. Try finding your grilling cheese at Winco…

  19. Himself (unregistered) on July 10th, 2007 @ 11:14 am

    “Only an out-of-towner would refer to New Seasons and Zupans as ‘hippie stores’.”

    Ain’t it the truth… Brian Rohter and Stan Amy banned hippies, union agitators and other unsavory types from their stores back in the days of Nature’s fresh! Northwest.

  20. divebarwife (unregistered) on July 10th, 2007 @ 11:47 am

    Sorry TKRUEG – no out-of-towner here, just the easiest way to making a sweeping generalization about which stores you’d have the best luck finding Halloumi at (thanks Lizzy!)

    …and I bet everyone knew what I meant :D

  21. Rob (unregistered) on July 10th, 2007 @ 1:06 pm

    Barbecue Options for Vegetarians? I quit barbecuing vegetarians a few years ago.

    My ex was a veggie, and she was fond of some of the veggie sausages and such in the veggie/vegan section at Safeway. Some of that stuff was really good, actually, and I bet it would be great at your gathering.

  22. kelley (unregistered) on July 10th, 2007 @ 2:06 pm

    speaking as a vegetarian, i would be thrilled to find grilled vegetables at a barbeque. as evidenced above, people have particular tastes when it comes to fake meat, etc. ask your guests what they like, or ask them to bring their own. i don’t think anyone with special diet needs would complain about that. there’s nothing worse than weaseling your way out of eating something your host went out of their way to get.

  23. Jeff (unregistered) on July 13th, 2007 @ 11:30 am

    It is hard to add to everything mentioned above. But I would suggest heating the tofu on a boat of foil. I would put the soy vey on top with green onions and ginger or other things and heat through about 5-10 minutes.

    Tofu also can be bought at Asian stores that are fried on the outside. These can be put on skewers with other veggies and sauces.

    Lastly, I leave you with eggplant napolian –

    Slice eggplant about 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch thick. Brush with olive oil and grill both sides till soft. Top with cheese of your choice eg mozzerilla, goat, chevre. And or a grilled red pepper chunk. or Walla Walla onion. Melt slightly, and top with salsa and or a small dollop of yogurt

    Have fun!!!!

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