Vegan Barbecue Series: Vegetables, Sides and Salads
If you read or listened to last week's post or episode you know we're right in the middle of our delicious vegan barbecue series, in which I get to teach you some of my favorite plant-based goodies to pop on that grill this summer. Last week we covered vegan meats and marinades, and today it's time for some of my grilling favorites. Those barbecue sides, those perfectly charred veggies and the salads that will round out grilling season. Sides are a thing of beauty and we all know it. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are the perfect proof of that. Sure, we might have loved these holiday gatherings because of the big roast (which of course you can make vegan) at the center of the table, but usually when I ask people what their favorite part of their family's Thanksgiving was, they all mention their grandma's mashed potatoes or their dad's famous sweet potato casserole. Deep down, we're all side dish junkies. Grilling season is the perfect excuse to indulge in such a vice.
Today we're diving deep into the world of grilling sides and making delicious salads that go well with vegan barbecues. I'm giving you a ton of simple ideas so that you can start making them at home or so that you can take them along to friend's barbecues, whether they are vegan or not! We're about to head right into it but before we do, I want to introduce you to today's sponsor, a wonderful company called Everything Vegan.
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Ok, back to grilling. I told you in last week's post all about the professional barbecue status Carlos and I have, after both growing up in families where barbecues were basically another family member. I showed you my dilapidated grill growing up and told you the story of the ducks and sheep (don't worry, these never ended up actually on the grill, they attended the barbecues! This is all to say we both have PhDs in grilling. When it comes to sides however, Carlos's family wins. By a mile. Or five.
Barbecues at his house included all sorts of sides we still make in our barbecues today, and we've since expanded the list to add even more goodies. My mother was also the best salad maker on the planet, and had hundreds of recipes for summer salads, so once again, our families kind of come together to give you some ideas.
Vegetables for Grilling
Corn on the Cob
The king of barbecues. The food I could probably live off of for the rest of my life. There's just nothing like corn, but when you grill it, it becomes legendary! To grill corn simple soak it in water for a few minutes, either with the last few leaves of its husk intact or husk removed. Then cover it loosely with foil if you bought corn without the husk, or place it directly on the grill husk and all. The "cover" (either foil or leaves), will let the corn steam slightly before it begins charring, so you'll get tender kernels, a smoky flavor as well as the char. If you covered them with foil as opposed to leaving the husk on, remove the foil in the last few minutes to get some grill marks on the corn.
Serve it with:
- Non-dairy butter, salt and pepper.
- The herbed butter from our Indoor grilled corn on the cob video.
- A bit of eggless mayo, nutritional yeast, paprika or chipotle powder, and some limes on the side.
- Some miso paste and nutritional yeast for spreading.
- On its own is also perfection.
Simple grilled vegetables: Asparagus, Peppers, Zucchini and Eggplant
These veggies only need to be rubbed with a bit of high heat oil and sprinkled with sea salt and pepper, rubbed with your fingers and placed on the grill until you get some nice grill marks. You can skip the oil if preferred, and add the seasonings once they're cooked and you're about to serve. Otherwise the seasonings won't stick to the vegetables. You can also marinade these in any of our marinades from part 1 of the series! Asparagus take the shortest time to cook out of all of these, so grill them towards the end. Overly cooked asparagus will completely change in taste, so only cook them until they are tender but still crisp.
Mini onions "a la Marrero"
This is one of Carlos's family's signature dishes. Take mini onions, peel them, add a tiny pat of non-dairy butter, wrap each little onion individually with foil and place them on the grill. These take a while, so we always add these before anything else. They're done when they're completely tender and caramelized. Yes, these are just as good as they sound. You're welcome.
The land of mushrooms!
Mushrooms are the best things on this planet to grill. It's like they were designed for bbq season! All you have to do is clean them, place them in a marinade so they get slightly tender, and then place them on the grill. Done! A very simple marinade and Carlos's favorite, is tamari soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, a squeeze of lemon juice, a dash of liquid smoke and some thyme or oregano. You can also use any of the marinades from last week's post (the teriyaki one goes great with mushrooms).
Yes you can grill potatoes (or sweet potatoes)!
Either cut them into slabs, wedges or place small potatoes whole, just rub them with a bit of high heat oil, rub with sea salt and pepper or add additional spices if desired and grill until crispy on the outside yet tender on the inside.
Serve them with:
- Any of the sauces or marinades from part 1 (potatoes go great with "Kim's beach mojo"!).
- Sriracha mayonnaise. Make our yummy homemade eggless mayonnaise here, and add sriracha sauce for a pop of flavor.
- Vegan sour cream and chopped chives or green onions.
- Ketchup or barbecue sauce.
- Any dip or sauce you like!
Cut thick slices of a whole head of cauliflower, brush them with a marinade, barbecue sauce or a bit of high heat oil, sea salt, pepper and garlic powder, pop them on the grill and let them cook until golden and tender. Serve them with chimichurri, salsa or our beach mojo.
Place any cut up veggies and even fruits on skewers, brush them with barbecue sauce, or grill them as is! Some favorites for skewers are onions, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, small pieces of corn on the cob, cherry tomatoes, button mushrooms, brussels sprouts, cut up beets, pumpkin or squashes, and pineapple.
Gotta have your greens
Although things like escarole have been grilled in cultures for centuries, my favorite green for the barbecue is bok choy! Cut it into slices like we do in this video, grill it, and right before serving brush it or drizzle some sesame oil, lemon juice and soy sauce. It's amazing! Broccoli rabe is also great grilled, and although purple in color and not tehnically green, radicchio is a delicious veggie from he lettuce family that has famously been grilled. Drizzle some balsamic vinegar, or even better, a balsamic reduction once it's done and you'll be in heaven. As I mentioned before, placing brussels sprouts on a skewer and grilling them will also make you go nutty and will help you get your greens on.
The cute bulb-ies: Fennel and artichokes
Cut tender, smaller artichokes in half or trim until only the hearts remain, rub them with lemon juice, a bit of oil, sea salt and pepper and place them cut side down on the grill. Cut up fennel into slices and place them on the grill.
Serve these with:
- Any lemon-based sauce, like a lemony parsley pesto or our tartar sauce or garlic aioli.
Delicious side dishes for a vegan barbecue
Besides all the ones we've mentioned, there are yummy sides that you can make ahead of time, that don't need to go on the grill, and that will round out your delicious plant-based barbecues:
- Homemade guacamole.
- Traditional salsa and some chips.
- Your favorite barbecue sauce or any of the sauces we taught you how to make in part 1.
- Strawberry, mango or cherry salsa.
- Steamed yucca or cassava root with non-dairy butter and parsley. Simply peel and boil the cassava root cut into big pieces in a large pot of salted water until tender. Drain and add non-dairy butter, salt, pepper and lots of fresh parsley chopped really finely. This is one of the main characters of Venezuelan barbecues.
- Garlic bread or focaccia, or another Venezuelan classsic we'll be teaching you how to make soon: mini arepas (Venezuela's famous street food).
- Baked potatoes with non-dairy sour cream and chives.
- Oven-roasted potato skins with melty cashew cheese and coconut bacon on top.
- Your favorite baked beans with any kind of smoky sauce.
- A yummy crudité platter with a dip.
Vegan Summer salads, perfect for barbecues
- Make our super easy vegan potato salad.
- Our yummy corn and bean salad.
- Your favorite coleslaw.
- My mom's famous pasta salad: cooked bowtie pasta tossed with corn, cherry tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, red onion, eggless mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, pepper, a bit of mustard, garlic powder and your favorite fresh herbs.
- A refreshing salad made with arugula, sliced strawberries, cherry tomatoes, corn, slivered almonds and a dressing made with olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, agave, salt and pepper.
- Asian slaw: green and red cabbage, thinly sliced, snap peas or snow peas (lightly steamed or sautéed just for a few seconds), shelled edamame, grated carrot, mandarin oranges, scallions and a ginger-sesame-soy dressing.
- Simple tomato basil: Tomato wedges (I like using different colors and varieties), lots of finely sliced fresh basil, olive oil, salt and pepper, plus a splash of vinegar if desired.
- Strawberry, spinach and watermelon salad: Toss baby spinach with a balsamic, agave, lemon and olive oil vinaigrette and add sliced strawberries, cherry tomatoes, basil, and some watermelon. Add some vegan blue cheese if you can find it and you'll go straight to heaven.
- Another Venezuelan classic: "Ensalada de palmito, aguacate y tomate". Arrange tomato slices, avocado slices or wedges and hearts of palm on a plate, then splash with red wine vinegar, olive oil, sea salt and pepper. You can thank me later for this one!
- Fig, arugula, pine nut and blackberry salad: Combine these fruits and veggies and toss with any type of balsamic dressing you love.
When it comes to salads and sides I could literally keep you here forever. But now you have an amazing array of dishes you can prepare at your next barbecue, or whenever you're entertaining.