Reviving the Grill… Vegetarian-Style

Okay, this is your cue to get out the old grill and revive the family tradition. So let’s get on with it. First of all, choose a location that will enable you to cook without smoking your guests as well. Be aware of the wind direction. Then get organized.

If you belong to the 74% of American families who own a grill, here’s good news. You need not give up your favorite form of home entertainment just because you’re turning vegetarian. Although the word “barbecue” may bring to mind countless slaughtered animals being roasted while the guests salivate, you can let it be a whole new way for vegetables to titillate your senses. Sweet potatoes and carrots take on succulent flavors as their natural sugar content caramelizes. Onions, garlic, bell peppers develop heightened tastes. Eggplants and mushrooms come alive. Marinated tofu skewers put shish kabob to shame.

Okay, this is your cue to get out the old grill and revive the family tradition. So let’s get on with it. First of all, choose a location that will enable you to cook without smoking your guests as well. Be aware of the wind direction. Then get organized. Make sure you have everything you need near you. Cooking on a grill takes concentration and you don’t want to be running around for what you need once you’ve started. Having everything beside you is not only convenient- it’s also safer. But just in case, have a first aid box and fire extinguisher nearby.

Whether you own a gas or coal grill, make sure you keep it clean before, during and after the barbecue. A grill with last barbecue’s food still stuck on it is enough to make guests lose their appetite. It will also cause more food to stick to the grill. Moreover, vegetables absorb flavors easily- so make sure you do your cleaning before getting started.

Your choice of fuel will affect the taste of the food. Try using fragrant wood chips and get a different result each time. Suggested woods are mesquite, hickory, alder wood and fruit woods like apple, peach or cherry. Soak chips in cold water for half an hour then toss onto hot fire just before cooking. Another trick is to add sprigs of herbs into the fire. Just moisten the herbs then add into the fire at the last minute.

Spray vegetable oil on the grill, away from the fuel before lighting the grill. Remember that vegetables don’t need a very hot fire. Cook on medium heat and turn occasionally until they reach a desired tenderness. Large tough vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes can be parboiled, then brushed with oil before placing on the grill. This will ensure it gets cooked all the way through without getting dry or burned. An alternative is to cut them into smaller sizes for even cooking.

You can cook one type of vegetable at a time or skewer similar sized pieces and cook until tender. Any vegetable is good for grilling but the best choices are onions, corn, yellow squash, bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes, and long green chilies. Grill corn with some of the husk on so it doesn’t get too dry inside.

Here are a few more tips to make barbecuing easy:

  • If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in water so they don’t burn while cooking. Don’t lump the food together. Leave space around each so that they cook evenly.
  • The sugar and tomato sauce in barbecue marinade will burn easily so apply the sauce during the last ten minutes of cooking. · When grilling tofu, choose the firm types and squeeze out extra moisture then brush with your favorite marinade before placing on a well-greased grill.
  • There are many types of gluten and vegetarian meats available that are great for barbecuing. You can even get sausages and different types of “meat”.
  • While one person does the grilling, let the others help prepare their own salads. Make available different types of greens. · Have chips and dips and various beverages available.
  • It’s a good idea to have pita breads and spreads to accompany the meal.

The best thing about a barbecue is that everyone wants to help out with the cooking and eating. Plus, there are no pots and pans to clean. So who wants to give up this way of cooking that helps you commune with your guests and with nature at the same time?

Your choice of fuel will affect the taste of the food. Try using fragrant wood chips and get a different result each time.

What you have in your mind?