British summertime is nearly here, and what better way to celebrate the warmer days than with a classic BBQ? But what about your vegan and veggie guests? With more people opting for plant-based diets, catering to everyone is important.
Chef and head of recipe development at plant-based recipe box subscription service Grubby, Fergus Smithers, says, “Catering for guests with dietary restrictions can sometimes feel like a challenge, but offering delicious options for people following a plant-based diet is much simpler than you think and can even be easier and tastier than cooking meat!”
Fergus’ easy steps for hosting a meat-free barbecue include:
- Experiment with different plant-based proteins and how to barbecue them
- Make your own marinades and sauces
- Use seasonal produce
- Don’t forget the sides
- Offer a variety of dips and spreads
Experiment with different plant-based proteins
“The secret to a successful vegan BBQ is offering a variety of options for your guests. While veggie burgers and hot dogs are classic choices, but let’s be honest, they can get boring after a while.
Tofu, tempeh, and seitan are all high-protein options that can be marinated and grilled for a delicious smoky flavour. Jackfruit is another great option that can be used as a meat substitute in dishes like pulled “pork” sandwiches or tacos.”
How to barbecue tofu, tempeh and seitan
- Press tofu, tempeh and seitan before grilling to remove excess moisture and create a firmer texture, perfect for mimicking burgers.
- Marinate it for at least half an hour before grilling to pack it with flavour and prevent it from drying out.
- Oil the barbecue grill well to stop it from sticking.
- Do cook until golden brown with a slightly crispy texture. About 5-6 minutes on each side.
- Flip it too much whilst cooking. Doing this will cause it to break apart.
- Don’t smother it in marinade or sauce. It will cause flare-ups on the grill, meaning it will cook quickly and likely burn.
How to barbecue jackfruit
- Use young green jackfruit. It won’t be too sweet and makes a great pulled-pork substitute.
- Marinate or season it for at least half an hour before grilling to pack it with flavour and prevent it from drying out.
- Cook until it’s charred and has a slightly crispy texture. It should take about 10 minutes, depending on the grill’s heat and the jackfruit’s thickness.
- Overcook your jackfruit. It will become tough and dry.
- Add thick sauces like barbecue sauce before cooking. For something like jackfruit pulled pork, it’s better to add it after cooking to prevent it from drying out and burning.
Make your own marinades and sauces
“One of the best ways to add flavour to grilled veggies and plant-based proteins is by making your own marinades and sauces. Experiment with different flavour combinations using fresh herbs, spices, and citrus.
For example, a simple marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and oregano can be used to flavour grilled vegetables or tofu. You can also make your own BBQ sauce using tomato paste, molasses, vinegar, and spices.”
Use seasonal produce
“One of the benefits of hosting a meat-free BBQ is that you can take advantage of fresh seasonal produce. Courgettes, fennel and asparagus can be sliced and grilled with a little olive oil and salt for a simple and delicious side dish. Aubergines can also be stuffed with flavourful quinoa or rice filling and grilled until tender.”
Don’t forget the sides
“While the focus of a BBQ is often on the grill, your guests will appreciate some tasty sides to round out the meal. Grilled or roasted new potatoes can be seasoned with herbs and spices, and a fresh seasonal salad is a great way to balance out the heavier grilled items.”
Offer a variety of dips and spreads
“Dips and spreads are a great way to add flavour to grilled veggies and plant-based proteins. You can offer classic dips like hummus or guacamole or try something new, like a white bean dip or a roasted red pepper spread. Serve with fresh raw veggies or pita chips for dipping.”
Make your own veggie burgers
“While shop-bought veggie burgers are convenient, you’ll be able to pack way more flavour in by making your own. There are countless recipes online for homemade veggie burgers using ingredients like beans, lentils, quinoa, and veggies. You can also experiment with different spices and flavourings to create your own signature burger. Top them with some vegan cheese or plant-based bacon, and you’re on to a winner.”
Grill fruit for dessert
“Grilled fruit is a delicious and healthy way to end a meal. Pineapple, peaches, and watermelon are all great options for grilling. There’s also the classic banana stuffed with chocolate (just make sure it’s vegan) wrapped in foil and grilled for a few minutes. Serve with a dollop of coconut cream or a scoop of vegan ice cream for a sweet and refreshing dessert.”
“Grilled pizza is a fun and unique option and a great way to get your guests involved. You can use a pre-made vegan crust or make your own dough, and then add your favourite toppings like tomato sauce, vegan cheese, grilled veggies, and fresh herbs. Grill until the crust is crispy and the cheese is melted.”
Make your own veggie kebabs
“Veggie kebabs are a colourful and tasty option. You can use a variety of veggies like cherry tomatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and courgettes and marinate them in a tasty sauce before grilling.”
Try a DIY taco bar
“If you want to do something a bit different than the classic BBQ options, a DIY taco bar is a good start, allowing you to get most of the prep done beforehand. Try fillings like grilled veggies, black beans, tofu, and jackfruit and then provide toppings like tomato salsa, guacamole, pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, and vegan cheese. Serve with soft or hard taco shells, and let your guests build their own.”