Meatless Grilling

May 1st, 2009

You don’t have to load up the grill with meat during this year’s backyard BBQ season. There are plenty of ways to enjoy a festive outdoor meal without the usual burgers and hotdogs.

VEGETABLES. Grill vegetables with low water content, like peppers, carrots, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, onions, corn and broccoli. Some vegetables are better after blanching. Just drop them in boiling water for a few minutes or precook them in the microwave.  Try pre-boiling sweet potatoes for a hearty addition. Or portobello mushroom caps. Or corn on the cob, whole in its husk.

Before you start grilling, brush veggies with olive oil, sprinkle with pepper, rosemary, thyme and a pinch of salt and let marinate for an hour or two. It will add flavor and prevent them from sticking to the grill.

Some veggies are easiest if grilled on kebabs or in a grill wok. If you use disposable bamboo sticks, soak them in water first to prevent charring.

Veggies cook very quickly, so watch closely.

VEGGIE BURGERS. Veggie burgers are a healthy alternative to beef patties, loaded with protein and fiber. Cook veggie burgers like any other burger. Or just follow the directions on the package.

FRUITS. The high sugar content in many fruits make them a sweet addition to your backyard party, as a side dish or a dessert. Most fruits can be grilled in their skins, especially stone fruits like peaches, nectarines and plums. Try sprinkling them with a bit of vanilla sugar and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Pineapple rings sprinkled with sugar are delicious for dessert with sliced bananas and ice cream.

TOFU. Pick up some extra-firm well-pressed tofu at your local supermarket. Cut into half-inch slabs and marinate for a few hours in soy sauce, minced ginger, garlic, red and black peppers and toasted sesame oil. Then pat dry and press between paper towels, brush with oil and grill. Brush with additional marinade and grill till the tofu develops a thin crust.