The 9 Best Barbecue Tips for Vegans (With Recipes)
We may not have a never-ending supply of summer days, but we know exactly how to use the ones we do get! As soon as the first flicker of sunlight peaks out from behind the dark, grey clouds of winter, we pour into the streets, parks and gardens in an effort to soak up every ray of it.
The following is a list of tips to help vegans enjoy one of Britain’s most popular summer pastimes: barbecues.
For vegan barbecues:
- Grill your mock meats.
- Know your veggies.
- Make sure that you marinate.
- Grill your tofu.
Consider the instructions for preparation first. In some cases, it’s OK to toss veggie burgers or hotdogs on the grill, even though the instructions on the label recommend that you cook them in an oven or on a hob. Other times, you may need to stick with the preparation guidelines because veering away from them may cause some issues. For instance, some garden burgers may fall apart, overcook or dry out more easily when cooked on a grill. Check out our “8 of the Most Barbecue-Worthy Vegan Meats” blog post.
All veggies are not made equal, so don’t grill them all the same way. Dense vegetables, such as potatoes, take longer to grill than lighter ones, such as courgettes, which cook in a few minutes. So for lighter veggies, try searing them over high heat and then moving them to the cooler section of the grill to finish cooking. For denser veggies, precook them in the oven and then transfer them to the grill to sear them and give them that delicious smoky flavour. Remember to toss your veggies in some light oil to prevent them from sticking to the grill.
Marinades are the key to a delicious barbecue! Try soaking portobello mushrooms in a soy sauce marinade, asparagus in a balsamic vinaigrette marinade and tofu in a jerk marinade before tossing them on the grill. This will not only infuse them with these flavours but also bring out their natural flavours. Try this recipe for Grilled Portobello Sandwiches from Post Punk Kitchen.
We’re not going to lie – grilling tofu can seem pretty intimidating. There’s a risk that tofu will stick to the grill or slip through the grates onto the charcoal – but when done correctly, the results can be magical. Here are our tips for grilling tofu:
- Use firm or extra-firm tofu.
- Drain or press the tofu. There are loads of methods for removing the excess liquid from tofu. Some people prefer to drain their tofu by wrapping the whole block in a kitchen towel and placing it between two plates with a heavy can on top to act as a weight. If you choose this method, you should let your tofu sit for about 30 minutes to an hour to drain. Others prefer to slice their tofu first and then gently press it between paper towels to squeeze out the excess liquid. You can choose whichever method floats your boat – just be sure to get that excess liquid out of there.
- Cut the tofu into thick slices (at least 10 mm). Slicing your tofu too thin will cause it to dry out and shrivel up on the grill.
- Marinate it. Like we said in tip number three, marinades are key! Try this recipe for Jerk-Spiced Tofu Kebabs.
- Make sure that the grill is very clean and well oiled. To oil your grill, rub a light layer of oil on a preheated grill with a towel and tongs. Let the oil smoke for 40 seconds or so, then rub with oil again. Repeat three or four times.
- Most recipes suggest that you cook tofu over medium to high heat, as quick heating will give your tofu nice grill marks and small areas of crispness. But if you want tofu that’s really crisp with concentrated flavour all over its surface, then low, indirect heat is best. By placing the tofu on a cooler side of the grill and covering it, you can create an oven effect, which slowly dries the exterior of each slice, making it much easier to brown and crisp.
Savour the flavour of your veggies by cooking them inside an aluminium foil “bag”. Remember that balsamic vinaigrette marinade we mentioned in tip number three? Well, instead of putting the asparagus directly on the grill, you could make a pouch from aluminium foil, place the asparagus and marinade inside, seal it and put it on the grill. You’ll end up with a flavour-filled batch of steamed asparagus. Or you could spread vegan margarine and chopped sage over ears of corn, wrap them in foil and put those on the grill – and you’d get delicious buttery, sage-infused corn on the cob.
That’s right – the grill isn’t just for cooking vegetables and savoury foods. Have you ever tried grilled peaches, watermelons or avocados? Grilling fruit brings out its natural sweetness and adds a delicious smoky flavour to it.
We’re not just talking about the side dishes – although this Russian-Style Potato Salad is a must. If you really want to impress your guests, try something a little different, such as barbecued pulled jackfruit. Jackfruit is a large fruit that’s grown across South and Southeast Asia. When eaten raw, it tastes like a cross between a pineapple and a pear, but after several hours on a hob, it possesses the ability to imitate savoury dishes. Check out this super-delicious Barbecue Pulled Jackfruit recipe from Independent Kitchen.
For non-vegan barbecues:
- Be upfront with the host.
- Offer to bring a dish.
If you’re invited to a non-vegan barbecue, let the host know that you’re vegan. In most cases, he or she will try to accommodate you by providing you with a veggie burger or some vegan-friendly sides.
Taking your own dish to a non-vegan barbecue will not only ensure that you have something tasty to eat but also provide you with the opportunity to share your delicious creation with others and engage in a bit of covert vegan outreach by showing people that vegan food is accessible and tasty.
Those are our favourite tips for vegan barbecues. Did we leave anything out? Got any must-have vegan barbecue tips of your own that you’d like to share with other PETA supporters? Please share them in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!