Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Thrill of the Grill

With the Memorial Day holiday widely considered to be the start of summer, many vegetarians will have cookouts in their near future. Cookouts can be as simple (veggie burgers and all the trimmings) or as elaborate (marinated portabella mushrooms, veggie kabobs, even pizza) as you want them to be.

There are any number of sources for ideas and recipes for vegetarian grilling. Vegetarian Times magazine seems to do one or more articles every summer; entire books have been written about it; and of course the internet has a wealth of recipes available at the click of a mouse. I have just a few personal suggestions to add --

You really should grill some corn on the cob. It's so delicious, and so easy. There are all kinds of suggestions on how to do this. Some say to peel back the shucks, remove the silks, and re-wrap the shucks around the ear. Sometimes it is recommended that you soak the corn in its shucks before grilling. But simply shucking and then grilling works fine, too.

All manner of elaborate spreads can be used on corn ... my favorite is umeboshi plum paste, spread very thinly across the ear. It’s much less messy and fattening than margerine, and tangy-salty-delicious. But remember, spread it sparingly -- otherwise it can be overpowering.

With veggie burgers or dogs, the goal is merely to heat them through, and to imbue them with the smoky grill flavor. So don’t leave them on the grill as long as you would conventional burgers and dogs. Also, because they do not have nearly as much fat as meat, they can dry out. I avoid this by rubbing each one with a generous coating of vegetable (usually canola) oil.

It's fun to wrap food in foil and cook it on the grill that way. Tofurky beer brats -- wrapped up with onions, peppers, beer and seasonings – turn out great when cooked like this. Tofurkey has the recipe online here.

Plan ahead to make the most of the coals. If you're firing up the grill anyway, why not take along an eggplant to roast so you can make baba ganoush (eggplant dip) later? A good recipe is available at the FatFree Vegan Kitchen blog. Or roast some red peppers to have on hand for sandwiches later. Or roast heads of garlic (drizzle them with olive oil and wrap in foil, just as you would for roasting them in the oven) for a tasty spread.

Finally, a very personal tip. If you're starting to wilt in the sun, just volunteer to stay inside to make sure nothing goes wrong with the central air-conditioning. I'll probably be in there, too, but you can never have too many people looking out for the central air....

What are your best tips for a successful summer cookout?


At 6/07/2007 12:52 PM, Blogger Follower said...

Tofurkey brand...? I'm reminded of Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet: "F--- that Heineken s---, man! Pabst Blue Ribbon!!!" I have a similar reaction: Anything that Tofurkey can do, Boca can do better. And they have a sausage option that Tofurkey does not: veggie smoked sausage.

As for getting grill flavor and moisturizing veggie burgers on the grill, rather than use canola or other oil, I usually just brush barbecue sauce directly onto both sides of the frozen burger before it goes on the grill. Just remember the more trendy and upscale a BBQ sauce label seems, the greater the chance that it will be free of partially hydrogenated oils.


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