Friday 28 August 2015

How to have a Vegan Barbecue

A few years ago a friend went to a summer event at the company he worked for at the time where a manager announced the barbecue was ready, allegedly saying: "There are burgers in bread rolls, sausages in bread rolls, and for the vegetarians: bread rolls." I'm sure he was joking but when I invited a vegan friend to a barbecue at my house recently I did have a moment of "aargh, what can I cook?".

So I thought I'd share with you some top tips for hosting a vegan barbecue - vegetarian recipes often seem to include halloumi as it barbecues really well, but that's not much good for vegans.

Firstly, burgers and sausages. Some vegans don't like the texture of meat but for those who do, it's not fair for them to miss out. There are loads of veggie burgers and bangers (sausages) available, but not all of them are vegan.

First of all Quorn - my go-to veggie choice which is great for meat-eaters too as it's low in fat - is not actually vegan as it contains meat. Some other brands of burgers and sausages that are suitable for vegetarians  - and sometimes different products within the same brand can be vegan or not. I'm afraid you're just going to have to read the labels (luckily this info is also provided if you shop online). STOP PRESS I learned recently that Quorn are launching a vegan range later this year which is great news!

Look out for Fry's in Waitrose (all Fry's products are vegan), Grassington's and Goodlife and one that is particularly easy to get hold of is Linda McCartney. But be careful - the sausages are vegan but burgers are not. For my recent barbecue I bought Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages (pack of 6, chilled) and mushroom and spinach burgers (frozen pack of 2) which my friend said were particularly good. Don't forget to either cook these first and put in a low oven wrapped in foil to keep warm or have a separate side of your barbecue for vegetarian/vegan food.

Home-made kebabs are good at barbecues as you can thread whatever you want onto skewers (soak wooden skewers first to stop them from burning). For vegans, you can use any veg that you can cut into chunky pieces, eg courgette, button mushrooms, red, yellow or green pepper, red onions or pieces of new potato. To give my kebabs extra flavour I dipped each veg piece into a little bowl of oil mixed with paprika; this ensures the kebabs get an even coating of oil and don't stick on your grill.

Side dishes: I love potato salad at barbecues and you can easily make it without salad cream or mayonnaise. I mixed oil with Dijon mustard and white wine vinegar to drizzle over some new potatoes which were delicious.

It's nice to have a few dips you can serve with fresh crusty bread; guacamole is made from avocado and works for vegans, and I previously made a white bean dip from a Slimming World recipe which you can spread on bruschetta.

Most barbecues seem to involve a big bowl of pasta salad as it can be made in advance at fairly low cost. Again it's easy to make one that is vegan.

Similar ideas are couscous salad with roasted veg chunks. And of course a big bowl of green salad (just don't add parmesan).

You can also grill lettuce - little gem works best - or artichoke hearts.

Whole flat mushrooms can be grilled and eaten in place of a burger. Grilled corn on the cob are great for barbecues too, as are jacket potatoes and sweet potatoes.

And don't forget dessert! Most fruit barbecues really well - everything from bananas with plain chocolate (if it doesn't contain milk solids it should be vegan, some brands are and some aren't), to grilled peaches or even fruit kebabs. And I have plenty of recipes on my site for vegan cakes and other desserts including cheesecake and pavlova so have a look around my blog!


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