Whether you’re a full-time vegan or vegetarian, or you dabble in these dietary preferences, you’ve probably found yourself at a BBQ staring down at a table full of grilled meats, wondering what you can eat. The answer is often the consolation prize—perhaps some baked beans or token baby carrots.
While carrots and beans are delicious, sometimes you need something heartier—like a main dish—or at least some scrumptious sides. The great news is that the popularity of plant-based diets has ushered in vegetarian options galore. Today’s BBQs have so much more to offer than “meats” the eye.
All of these recipes focus on whole, healthy ingredients, and will satisfy the mouths and bellies of both vegans and non-vegans alike. And they’re sure to elicit the response coveted by every vegan cook: “I can’t believe this is vegan!”
1. BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches
There’s an easy way to do this, which is to combine tempeh with store-bought barbecue sauce and cook according to the tempeh package’s directions. But there’s a healthier and tastier method that is totally worth the extra few minutes of prep time.
- 1 pound tempeh, cut into half-inch-wide strips
- 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1 yellow onion, minced
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger, minced
In a medium mixing bowl, combine tempeh with soy sauce through cumin. Mix well, cover, and let marinate in refrigerator for one hour.
Heat coconut oil in a pan on medium-high heat and sauté onion for about five minutes. Add garlic and ginger and sauté three more minutes. Add tempeh and marinade to pan and cook until tempeh begins to brown, about five minutes.
Serve on whole wheat hamburger buns with toppings of your choice (e.g., purple cabbage, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, etc.).
2. Grilled Chili Lime Corn
This is a simple and spicy spin on the ubiquitous grilled corn on the cob slathered in butter.
- 6 ears corn
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon
- Juice of 2 limes
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (optional)
Preheat grill to medium-high heat and peel husks and silk off of corn.
Whisk olive oil through lime juice in a small mixing bowl. Place each ear of corn on its own square of tinfoil, and drizzle with chili-lime mixture. Roll aluminum foil around each ear of corn and twist at ends.
Place ears of corn on preheated grill and rotate every five minutes. Cook corn for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from grill and allow to cool.
Serve with cilantro, if desired, and add salt and pepper, to taste.
3. Grilled Brussels Sprouts
The simplest recipes are often the most delicious. With just a little TLC, Brussels sprouts can be transformed into something you can’t stop yourself from eating—like potato chips or French fries.
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Trim ends off and then halve Brussels sprouts.
In a medium bowl, toss Brussels sprouts with Dijon mustard, olive oil, honey/maple syrup, and salt. Place Brussels sprouts on grill (or in a grill basket) and cook for approximately 12 minutes, turning every 4 minutes.
Remove from grill and add salt and pepper, to taste. You can also drizzle remaining marinade onto Brussels sprouts. Serve hot.
4. Grilled Fruit Kebob
Here’s a sweet twist on the tried-and-true kebob. Feel free to get adventurous and seasonal with your fruit choices. The fruits listed below lend themselves well to grilling, but don’t let that stop you from experimenting with other fruits.
- 4 cups cubed fruit (try pineapples, peaches, and strawberries)
- Olive oil (for brushing)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water and set aside. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
Cube the fruit. Mix cinnamon and maple syrup in a medium bowl. Add fruit and toss until evenly coated in glaze. Thread fruit onto skewers in alternating order. Lightly brush with oil. Place skewers on grill and cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until browned.
Remove from grill and brush with remaining glaze, if desired. Serve warm.
5. Salted Chocolate Avocado Pudding
Nobody will believe you if you tell them this pudding is made with avocados. The smooth and creamy texture and high (good) fat content of avocados makes for a cool, sweet, and decadent pudding.
- 2 medium, ripe avocados
- 1 cup almond or cashew milk
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
Toss all ingredients, except avocados, into a blender and blend on high until well-combined. Add avocados and continue to blend until mixture is very smooth and creamy. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours before serving.
There are a lot of options with this recipe: add additional salt and/or sweetener until desired taste is achieved, and add flakes of salt, vegan chocolate chunks, nuts, berries, or vegan whipped cream before serving. Swoon.
6. Watermelon and Mint Agua Fresca
Watermelon is 92 percent water, making it a refreshing and hydrating sweet treat on a warm, summer day. You may want to double the recipe because this drink will go fast.
- 5 cups watermelon, cubed
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 honey or agave (optional)
- 1/4 cup mint leaves*
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Chill for 3 hours before serving.
*Rosemary can be used in place of mint, but a little goes a long way, so start with 1 sprig of rosemary and add more to taste.
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