What’s summer without hosting a barbecue (or a few)? It’s the perfect excuse to fire up the grill, invite friends and family, and enjoy a delicious feast in the great outdoors. But if you’re a vegan, the thought of planning or attending a barbecue may make you anxious. Maybe your guests won’t enjoy the grill without the hamburgers. Or maybe there will be nothing for you to eat but half a frozen veggie burger and a sad side salad. Well, fear not—a barbecue doesn’t have to be centered around meat. In fact, it’s possible to put together a healthy, entirely vegan-friendly menu that even carnivores will appreciate. Here are some vegan barbecue recipes top nutritionists say you should serve.
Grilled Barbecued Tempeh
It’s a myth that vegans only eat tofu—they also devour tempeh! It has a better texture than tofu to cook on the grill, says Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D., in New York City. “Tempeh holds up well on the grill,” she says. “I like to pour some of my favorite organic barbecue sauce on and serve this with corn or a side salad.” Note: You’ll want to use a block of tempeh for this recipe, not a crumbled version.
1 block (8 ounces) tempeh
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
- Brush barbecue sauce on the tempeh, covering all sides.
- Spray the grill with cooking spray, and place tempeh directly on grill. Cook for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Cut up into pieces, and enjoy.
- Optional: Serve with grilled corn, a side salad, or a vegan slaw.
Grilled Portobello Burgers
With their hearty texture, portobello mushrooms are another solid main-course option and a good alternative to veggie burgers, Rizzo thinks. “With their meaty texture, portobello mushrooms make the best burger substitute,” she says. “Serve these on a burger bun with your favorite condiments.”
Large portobello caps
1 tablespoon olive oil per mushroom
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional toppings: lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
- Coat mushroom cap with oil, salt, and pepper.
- Place mushroom on the grill for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Put the grilled mushroom on a hamburger bun, and top with your favorite toppings.
Grilled Asparagus With Lemongrass Garlic Rub
Ditch the pasta and potato salads—everyone will be coming back for seconds of this flavorful side, says Amy Gorin, M.S., R.D.N., owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in New York City. “This quickie side dish is super-easy to flavor and add to the grill,” she says. “You don’t have to cut the ends off the asparagus when prepping—simply give each piece a bend, and the end will snap off. And asparagus is fantastic for you, offering plenty of filling fiber and about three grams of protein per cup for only about 30 calories.”
1½ pounds (about 24) medium asparagus, trimmed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons fresh lemongrass, chopped (alternatively, you can rehydrate the freeze-dried version)
¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
⅛ teaspoon onion powder
Salt and black pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, combine olive oil and spices.
- Toss asparagus in a sealed zippered bag with spice mixture.
- Place asparagus on an oiled grill rack. Cook 5-7 minutes until tender, turning once.
Black Bean and Corn Salad
Keri Gans, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N., in New York City, recommends tossing together this one-bowl, protein-packed salad to serve alongside your grilled dishes. “A black bean and corn salad is the perfect, easy-to-make side dish for any barbecue,” she says. “The beans and corn are good sources of heart-healthy antioxidants and B vitamins, and the protein and fiber from the beans will help fill you up, so you don’t leave hungry.”
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn (either fresh or canned)
½ cup chopped red onion
1 large tomato, chopped
¼ cup chopped scallions
1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon ground pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon lime juice (or more if desired)
- Add all ingredients to bowl and mix together. Cover.
- Refrigerate for one hour before serving.
The best part of this menu may be the fact that no one will miss the meat. Bon grill-pétit!