Maintaining a vegan diet hasn’t been all that hard for me, personally. I control the food that comes into the house and that means that I’m always stocked up with my favorite things. Life hasn’t changed too drastically, but all of that goes out the window once someone invites you to a barbecue. Now you’re in their kitchen (literally) and you are subject to the whims of an unknown entity, a person with (gasp) different tastes and limitations from you. I could show up, politely decline probably everything on the table (celery excluded) and suffer my way through the event on beer alone. But I don’t want to, that sounds boring, and lame, and hunger inducing.
Being a vegan invitee to a food based event usually means you have to fend for yourself. BYOEverything. There is a silver lining here, it means you have full control over your menu, you can eat all of your favorite things, just be sure to make more than enough for yourself, some of your more adventurous friends may want to sample your eats. With Memorial Day coming up, I’ve begun my plans for one of the year’s biggest barbecues. Here’s what I’ll be having.
“Pigs” in a Blanket
Because nothing says summer like pork (or a satisfactory alternative) wrapped in warm flakey bread. There are many soy based hotdogs, but my favorite are the Yves Good Dogs. They hold up well, they have the right flavor and you can cook them in all the normal ways, on the grill, boiled, baked, whatever.
Ingredients: Hotdogs, Crescent Rolls, Cheese.
The process is simple. Unroll a crescent roll, place your hotdog in the middle, cover in your favorite cheese (I’ll be using Daiya brand Mozarella), roll it up and bake according to the instructions on your rolls. The great thing about using a meat alternative is that you don’t have to worry about it being cooked completely, it’s all plant based, as long as it’s warm, you can eat it. Every time we make these I end up eating five or six by myself, I recommend making at least two packages of hotdogs and rolls.
You can’t have a barbecue without good burgers. Well, you could but… why would you want to? Vegans and vegetarians love burgers too, it was one of the first things we figured out how to make when we first crawled out of the caves with our kale and chia seeds. There a myriad of choices here but I prefer a good blackbean burger. You can pick these up at any healthfood store and at most major grocers. As with any burger, the key here is in the embellishment. Add grilled onions and avocado. Diced peppers or jalapeño’s can add a little kick, or mix in some Sririacha with your vegan mayonnaise. Everything is better with Sriracha. Even Sriracha. There’s no wrong way to make a burger so built it to your personal specifications. Then experiment, because you know you’re going to have more than one.
Veggie and Tofu Kebabs
Kebabs are something I didn’t really appreciate until adulthood. They weren’t something we had regularly in my family but I’ve grown to love them. Make sure when cutting your veggies for kebabs that you leave them in larger chunks. While a tiny kebab is entirely possible, it will just leave you wanting more. Onions and tomatoes grill up really nicely on the barbecue, add some mushrooms and peppers to round out the flavors. When working with tofu always remember to get as much moisture out as possible before you start cooking. You can do this by draining the container and then pressing the block between layers of paper towel, or, if you’re really fancy use a tofu press. Important Note: there are different types of tofu for different recipes. For something like this you’ll want firm or extra firm, you don’t want your little tofu cubes sliding off the skewer and into the grill. Tofu is relatively flavorless and will pick up the flavors of whatever you cook it with. I personally like it just the way it is but feel free to use whatever marinades or sauces you have available.
Remember, make a lot, food is delicious and you’re going to have to share.