Happy National Grilling Month!
Summertime is perfect for firing up the backyard grill (or where ever you put yours) and July is the month to celebrate. Here are a few ideas for the vegan Grill Master to put between their tongs and on the flame.
As a chef, I’ve done my share of grilling. On the line, the grill station is one of the most valued positions. The grill guy has to cook everything to perfection and in a timely fashion. On several occasions, I’ve turned down this highly prized position in favor of the saute station. Saute is a higher pressure position and usually involves more vegetables and fish than meat.
But at home I love to grill. What does a vegan cook on the grill? So many things. I grill everything from ingredients for salsa to asparagus lightly tossed in olive oil, from eggplants to veggie patties.
What else do I grill?
- Tofu skewers with cubed and marinated tofu, mushrooms, chunks of onions and peppers. Some people grill fruit skewers.
- Seitan that’s been slathered with BBQ sauce can be grilled.
- Tofu that’s been marinated in cilantro lime dressing, or orange cumin marinade.
- Peppers and onions for grilled veggie wraps
- And then there is my favorite, the grilled mushroom portabello steak. Marinated overnight with cilantro lime dressing, and then slapped onto a heated grill, cooked on both sides till the juice just starts to run off the mushroom. Serve this with roasted rosemary potatoes and garlicky mashed potatoes, and you’ve got a winning dish for any poolside grilling party.
Then, there is the party favorite. BBQ Tofu. Now, I do cheat. I have not made my own barbecue sauce. It is a long, complicated process that I leave up to the experts. I have, however, found a sauce that is tangy, not too sweet, with citrus notes and a bit of heat. I use this sauce to marinade the tofu. Once it’s been soaked overnight in the sauce, I take out the hunk of tofu and grill it for several minutes on each side. The BBQ is sliced into thin layers and piled up on crusty ciabatta bread (gluten free for the Spouse). Top this with pickled onions and lettuce mix that’s been dressed lightly in a lime vinaigrette. This grilled BBQ tofu sandwich can please the hungriest of vegans. Traditionally BBQ is served with coleslaw on top, but that’s a little messy for me, I like mine on the side, thank you.
The grill is also the place where I smoke things. I just experimented with smoking jalapeno chilies for the first time (also known as chipotle). I did finish drying them in the oven, but they have that amazing smoky flavor that I love.
I smoke tofu. I prefer a hard smoke on them. Smoking tofu on the grill isn’t that hard. After soaking wood chips, the grill gets stoked up and the foil packet of chips get set over the coals. Once this starts to smoke, I set the tofu on the grill, close the lid and let the smoking begin. I usually turn the tofu over several times for an even smoke. And if it’s a one pound block, I’ll cut it in half.
Whatever you like to grill, this is the month to do it. Bust out with in season vegetables and try new things, like grilled endive, string beans, or even try smoking grapes and putting those into a summer salad mix.
Have fun with the grill this summer!