What to Grill When You’re Not Grilling Meat
While most people associate the backyard ritual of grilling with foods like meat or fish, a growing number of people are leaving meat off of their grills in favor of plant-based alternatives. If you aren’t familiar with plant-based cooking, it might be difficult to know what to grill when you’re not grilling meat. Do you need help navigating a meatless grilling season? Here are a few meal ideas to keep the meat off of your grill.
On the Meat-Free Grill
From veggie burgers to fruit, there’s no shortage of choices for your next plant-powered cookout.
No meatless grill would be complete without this plant-based staple. Veggie burgers have a bit of a bad reputation because of their beginnings as being quite terrible-tasting, but that’s a thing of the past these days. With endless combinations of ingredients and spices, there’s a veggie burger to please every palate. You can make your own veggie burger, or find one pre-made in the freezer section of the grocery store.
Image Credit: Steven Depolo via Flickr
Grilled avocados are simple to make and they add a lovely smokiness to dishes. Simply cut the avocados in half and remove the seed. Brush each half with a little bit of olive oil and grill face down for two to three minutes on each side, until lightly charred. Top with salsa, enjoy with tortilla chips, use them in guacamole, stuff them with a salad or grilled vegetables, or simply eat them with a spoon. The possibilities are deliciously endless.
Don’t let its knobby looking exterior fool you; there is lush, creaminess on the inside of these roots. Cut the celery root in half and place it cut-side down in the low heat section of the grill. Grill until the outside is charred and blackened, but the inside is soft and creamy. It’s like mashed potatoes, but celery root on the grill. A little salt, a little pepper, and you’ve got one deliciously uncommon side dish.
Portobello mushroom caps are generously-sized and delightfully meaty, and they’re spectacular when grilled. Soak them in one of these marinades for grilled vegetables or marinade of your choice for 30 minutes. Lightly score the top of each cap prior to grilling. This allows the steam inside the portobello to escape, which allows mushrooms to cook evenly creating a lovely sear.
Recipes to try:
Pizza on the grill? You bet! Cooking pizza on a grill gives the crust an amazing smoky taste. Start by brushing the grill with a bit of oil. Roll or stretch the dough on the grill and brush the top with more oil. Grill for a few minutes, then flip the dough. Quickly add the toppings, and continue to grill until the crust and toppings are fully cooked. Want to make the pizza dough yourself? Here’s a pizza crust recipe for grilling.
Cripsy on the outside and creamy on the inside, grilled polenta is super tasty and using pre-made polenta can help save time in the kitchen. Simply cut pre-made polenta into rounds. Brush both sides with olive oil, dust with salt and pepper, and grill for 5 – 10 minutes or until a golden crust forms. Serve with barbecue sauce, salsa, marinara sauce, or top with grilled vegetables.
Skewers & Kebobs
Skewers and kebobs are the staple of any meatless cookout because they are so versatile. Choose a mix of fruits and vegetables like zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, or slices of corn on the cob. Layer between cubes of seitan, tofu, tempeh, or fruits like grapes, peaches, or pineapple. For a citrus twist, add lemon or lime quarters to the skewers. Grilling will soften the tartness of the fruit and and a great citrus flavor to the skewers.
Recipes to try:
Image Credit: Jodimichelle via Flickr
Grilled lettuce? Yes! Simply wash a head of romaine lettuce and slice it down the center to create two halves. Place each half face down and grill for 5 minutes, then flip and grill for an additional 5 minutes. Top with a creamy dressing like this Creamy Sesame Dressing or other creamy dressing of your choice, grilled vegetables, and big, crunchy toasted croutons. It’s salad, elevated.
More Options + a Recipe!
Meat alternatives like meatless hot dogs, sausages, and kielbasa; tofu, tempeh, and seitan; and vegetables like eggplants, zucchini, and yellow squash all make excellent additions to a meatless grill. And of course, you can’t have any cookout without corn on the cob!
Ancho-Lime Grilled Corn
This corn is a dairy-free spin on the crunchy street corn found in Mexico.
- 6 ears of fresh corn on the cob
- Juice from 1 lime
- 1/4 cup liquid coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Fresh cilantro to garnish
- Prepare the corn. Trim top corn silks until even with top of corn cob. Remove any damaged leaves but leave as much of the husk as possible. Soak in a sink of cool water for 30 minutes to soften the husk and add juiciness to the corn.
- Meanwhile, prepare a grill to medium-high heat and the rack about 5 inches from fire.
- In a large bowl, combine all of the dried spices and mix well. Add the lime juice and liquid coconut oil. Mix well. Rough chop the cilantro and set aside.
- Place corn on the grill and cook until the kernels begin to char, then turn. Continue until all sides are charred. Then remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cooled, remove husks.
- Using a brush and working with one corn of ear at a time, lightly coat each ear of corn in lime juice/coconut oil spice mixture until evenly coated.
- Top with a sprinkle of cilantro and serve with lime wedges.
Do you have a favorite plant-based food or recipe you use for grilling? Share your recipes in the comments!