A notion pervades the mainstream conception of barbecue feasting: it has to be a big, bloody meat fest. Labor Day’s just around the corner so this carnivorous imagery may very well pan out in reality when the holiday dawns and the grills fire up.
In the conventional sense, yes, the flesh-devouring association makes sense on some levels; the first fares that come to mind with the thought of barbecue are probably along the lines of beefy patties or porky links rather than green asparagus or soy dogs.
However, many great cultural movements have resulted from the challenging of traditions. To help dispel the meaty dominance of the great American barbecue, Veronica and I will fill you in on our favorite vegan grilling options that may alter your established palate.
While there may have been a time when vegans and vegetarians felt out of place amongst the usual spread of hot dogs, burgers, and steaks, there are now a multitude of meat-free alternatives for plant-eaters. Boca Burgers and Morningstar patties, for example, have gotten quite popular over the years within the veg community.
I, however, opt for Sunshine Burgers. With flavors like Garden Herb, Barbecue, Black Bean Southwest, and Loco Chipotle, Sunshine Burgers offer more than just a patty trying to emulate beef. While I’m often asked if mock products do a good job at imitating meat, I personally do not judge the quality of these alternatives by how well they are at tricking my brain into thinking they’re meat. Instead, I view the products as their own entities. So, will meat eaters who try Sunshine Burgers think they are biting into a pound of Grade A beef? Probably not. But there’s a pretty good chance they will still enjoy this savory treat.
When I’m not in the mood for veggie burgers, Tofurky sausages also make for a delicious alternative to typical grilled fare. My favorite flavors are Italian Sausage, Spinach Pesto, and Kielbasa. These sausages can be cooked on a grill or via stovetop with a bit of olive oil. To amp up the flavor even more, I add a zesty sundried tomato marinade.
I always enjoy biting around a skewer that impales a colorful row of fresh produce. However, the delectable veggie kabob has to be curated correctly. I’m not a big fan of unevenly cooked collections. I advise avoiding the simultaneous grilling of eggplant cubes with chopped bell peppers, as the latter takes far less time to cook through, and the difference in timing often causes the former to turn out too spongy. Onion slices and garlic cloves are flavorsome add-ons, but I’d say make sure these alliums are heated thoroughly to avoid any abrasive texture or astringent aftertaste.
If you want to push some protein onto the stick, chunks of Tofurky sausages or cubes of tempeh both work well. Tofu should only be included if it’s pre-fried or baked–or if raw, of the firmest texture possible. That way the curd doesn’t slip off of the skewer. Sliced squashes of the green or yellow sort are suitable for vegan kabobs. Finally, if you crave a sugary, tropical taste to hail the end of summer, pieces of pineapple or firm mango are fine choices.
Feature photo courtesy of Lara604.