Vegetarian Grilling Comes to America

The new vegetarian barbecueThe all American barbecue is changing. No longer is meat or chicken the only thing on the grill. At some barbecues, it’s not even on the menu.

I’m not referring to the fish taco fad, but something more surprising: the growing popularity of purely vegetarian grilling — as in grilled eggplant parmesan sandwiches, grilled tofu satay and grilled fruit kebabs.

But though surprising, the shift to more vegetarian fare makes perfect sense for a number of reasons:

  1. Grilled vegetarian foods are lighter and more appropriate for a hot summer day.
  2. They offer welcome variety and interest to the menu and make for a beautiful spread.
  3. They provide something for everyone at the party, including vegetarians.
  4. They can be cooked earlier in the day so hosts are free to enjoy the party more.
  5. They are healthier than meat.

And, oh yeah, serving plant-based foods makes your get-together more sustainable.

For vegetarian grilling tips and recipes, see The All New American Barbecue at This Green Life and try my simple, zippy, healthy homemade barbecue recipe below. It’s great in a grilled tortilla filled with grilled red peppers, cilantro, and queso fresca or as a dipping sauce for grilled corn.

Homemade Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

Chipotle babecue sauceMakes 1 cup
Preparation time: 30 minutes

1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 med onion, chopped fine
1 med garlic clove, chopped fine
1/4 tsp ground chipotle peppers
  (or 1/2 tsp for a hot sauce)
1/2 tsp sweet paprika

2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 c canned whole tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp molasses
1/4 tsp salt

  1. Put the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, giving the pan a shake along the way to turn the mixture. Add the spices and give the pan another shake or two. Cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the vinegar and cook for a minute. Then add the whole tomatoes, without the surrounding juice. Break them up a little in the pan with a wooden spoon, which will release the juice from within the tomatoes.
  3. Raise the heat to medium high to bring the pot to a slow simmer. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the mixture thickens.
  4. Puree the sauce in a food processor. Add more ground chipotle pepper, honey, vinegar or salt to taste. If the consistency is too soupy, you can return the sauce to the pan and cook for a few more minutes.


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3 Responses to Vegetarian Grilling Comes to America

  1. Patricia Austin June 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    Thank You, Thank You, Thank You. It renews my faith in your efforts as an environmental foundation that you are giving suggestions for meat and dairy alternatives. Our food choices are the single most important issue we are facing. If we consumers shift our eating habits, we the shift in the markets, because the corporation will most certainly not. They are banking on us being gluttonous and lazy. I hope we do not prove them right.

  2. Miriam F. Leiseroff June 29, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    A plant-based diet is best for everyone’s health. It has been proven that eating no animal or dairy products will reduce cholesterol and decrease other health problems, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. I have been a vegetarian for over 20 years and recently decided to go vegan. Thank you for posting this article!

  3. Chris Lee July 3, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    Nick Stellino’s grilled radicchio, endive, pepper with arugula and goat cheese is my favorite. It’s a little bit of a performance to prepare and get it onto your guests plate while still warm. But that’s all part of a good BBQ.