Saturday, 3 September 2011

Vegetarian barbecue Do's and Don'ts

I was going to post this earlier in the summer. However, as we all know, this was the chilliest summer on record. But I don't have much time before the behemoth that is Bestival so I'll put up this post. You never know...we might have an Indian summer.

You are throwing a barbie, it's pot luck, everybody brings chicken wings, sausages, burgers...but what to do about the vegetarians? It's not hard, here are some tips so that you are always veggie-ready and do not offend:

Halloumi, pepper and Nasturtium salad
1) Always have two things in the cupboard for surprise vegetarians: 1) a pack of Halloumi, the Greek Cypriot no-melt cheese to hand. You can slice it directly on the barbecue, or stuff red peppers or mild chillis with it, adding a dribble of olive oil and a scoop of pesto. 2) a pack of tofu. Silken is soft so needs to be wrapped but firm or smoked tofu is robust enough to put on kebabs.
Aubergines halves, cross hatched and spread with light miso
Corn on the cob with compound butters (recipe for the best bbq corn on the cob in my book)
Grilled grapefruit with butter, a little bit 70s but still a winner
Jalapeno poppers
Grilled aubergine slices served with yoghurt, pine nuts and pomegranate seeds
Here I grilled entire strings of tomatoes on the vine, whole garlic, pepper slices and seasoned with pesto and balsamic.
2) Be imaginative with grilling vegetables: apart from the classic corn on the cob with gorgeous 'compound' butters in different flavours, I love aubergines sliced in half and smeared with light miso paste. Or barbecued Romaine lettuce halves, drizzled with balsamic. And what about Jalapeno halves, stuffed with cream cheese and sprinkled with paprika...
Thai monkfish in banana leaf parcels with chilli, lemon grass, coconut cream
Halloumi wrapped in vine leaves
3) Wrap things: in banana leaf, in vine leaves, in foil. Make foil packets of tofu cubes, sprinkled with finely chopped red chilli, spring onions, some Ponzu and a few sesame seeds. Wrap onions stuffed with goats cheese in foil, sling 'em in the embers.
Veggie kebabs
5) Put food on sticks: sausages, kebabs, marshmallows, chunks of smoked tofu, teeny par boiled new potatoes threaded onto a stick of rosemary. American food blogger Matt Bites has a brilliant cook book 'On a stick" with food on sticks recipes such as spaghetti and meatballs!

Toasting marshmallows

6) Don't use the same bit of bbq grill for veggies as you do for your bloody dripping meat, you insensitive brutes. Keep a separate area and stick to it. Or have a whole separate barbecue grill.
Star Ruby grapefruit, mozzarella, pink peppercorns and pistachios
Guacamole, mango salsa, tomato salsa, and tomatillo salsa
Cherry tomatoes, marigold petals, nasturtium leaves salad
7) Salads and salsas. What is a salsa? A very finely chopped up salad. Goes great with veggie and non veggie barbecued food.  Equally, vibrant colourful salads are popular with meat eaters too even if they don't know it. (When I attended a 'braai' in South Africa I was shocked when the male barbequeists didn't have ANY salad. I made some. They all ate it)
8) Make your barbecue smell nice by pushing some woody herb sprigs onto the coals: rosemary, thyme, oregano, lavender.
Grilled pineapple with chilli syrup
Grilled nectarines dotted with butter and sweet herbs
9) Desserts can be barbecued too: slices of pineapple with chilli syrup; grilled peaches caramelised with lavender sugar; or that campfire classic, slit a banana and prise in a chocolate flake, close and wait for the fudgy flesh to poach in melted chocolate.
Damper bread
Pitta breads on the fire with nettle pesto
Fresh corn taco with grilled tomatoes and tomatillo salsa
10) Good bread helps. Damper bread on sticks...garlicky home made pitta breads puff quickly if they are thinly rolled out does Persian style flat bread Lavash, folded over fresh herbs. Try corn bread moistened with maple and jalapeno butter. For bruschetta; lightly grill slices of baguette, rub with garlic and pile up some diced tomatoes with a lick of olive oil, salt and vinegar. Tacos! we don't eat enough of them here in Britain, the perfect dumping ground for a few grilled veggies, then garnished with sour cream and salsa.
Lavash with fresh herbs such as dill, parsley, tarragon, chervil, coriander.
And boys, do let the girls have a go on the barbie. We can cook on fire too.


  1. Some lovely ideas, thanks. But, hélas, no tofu? :)

  2. yes I mention wrapping tofu in foil ....I will stick in a few more tofu suggestions tho

  3. This all look divine! I need to try grilled pinapple with chilli ASAP. Now we just need a gorgeously sunny day...

  4. Ah sorry, eyes faster than my comprehension. Particularly taken with the nectarines, must try that.

  5. Thanks Kerstin- some lovely ideas there, and as our bbq season is just beginning, much to experiment with! Middle East inclusions are warm hummous (not exactly grilled, but still fab if home-made), arabic flatbreads, moutabel from those grilled aubergines, lots of courgettes, and a very green tabouleh salad (95% mint and parsley, 5% bulgar!)

    Plus halloumi, of course. Thanks afain

  6. Nom nom. All looks so scrummy. Where do you get veggie friendly marshmallows? All the ones I find are made with gelatine :(

  7. Thanks for that article on vegetarian BBQ, as I feel like the non-meat part is missing much too often. A very well done demonstration that there are so many other ways of enoying a BBQ!

  8. yum yum yum - some wicked tips! Really excellent post!!! xxx

  9. Great ideas. I always struggle with ideas for my vegetarian friends. Thank you GG

  10. Genius ideas. I always feel bad for veggies at barbecues, but I think you've just rescued them from bean burger hell.

  11. Vic: not sure about veggie friendly marshmallows as mostly they use gelatin which, as we all know, is mashed up cow's shoes. :(
    (Have to admit, I do eat gelatine. I have a wine gum and Haribo addiction. As long as it hasn't got a face)


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