Outdoor socialising is possible in groups of six or between two households now - and even if the weather didn't get the memo, chances are, like us, you'll be ploughing ahead this weekend. If you're still sorting the menu (this weekend always creeps up! A Friday off!) and you have vegan friends coming and you need inspiration for vegan BBQ food and vegan recipes, we're here for you.
Whether you're the solo vegan at a pal's cook out or it's your first time hosting a meat-free one, there's plenty of ways to replace burgers and chicken drumsticks without having to resort to soggy tomato sauce sandwiches and a lot of pitying stares from the pulled pork camp.
As a vegan, I've managed to pick up a few tips for surviving a night on the coals (and hopefully avoiding any awkward 'but you eat fish right?' moments).
If you're going to go down the meat replacement route with a tofu burger or veggie sausages, bring your own disposable barbecue, or make sure your friends have one saved for just the vegan items. There's nothing worse than passive aggressive grilling when there's no room left on the grill (there's a reason they're called heated arguments).
To make this less of a ball ache you can always bring along some 'collateral'- i.e. food everyone loves that also happens to be vegan. Vegetable kebabs, plantain, or even sweet potato have all worked well for me, but corn on the cob is my fail-safe: no one will resent you taking up good grill space if there's fresh corn involved.
The major plus to being such a novelty? Everyone will want to try the vegan food. So don't turn up with just enough for one, thinking the prawn skewers and halloumi will provide enough distraction, because they seriously won't. The entire country's been eating that stuff for years, and as much as they might initially turn their noses up at falafel or vegan coleslaw, a few IPAs in and anything that isn't a stale hot dog roll or a basics quarter pounder will go down a treat.
With sharing in mind, here's three vegan BBQ recipes that are super easy to pass around and let everyone dig in. If you can get your hands on corn tortillas then they will all be gluten free, so no-one has to miss out. And yep, there's even a good way of using all your freshly-grilled corn, saving everyone from the task of looking suave whilst eating a cob in front of someone they fancy. Even vegans can't do that.
The best vegan BBQ recipes
The perfect base for any vegan taco. Top off with roasted peppers, pink pickled onions or grilled courgette. Makes enough for four.
· Vegetable oil
· 1 large onion, chopped small
· 1 tsp chili flakes
· 1 bay leaf
· 1 tsp chipotle paste (or use a chopped chipotle chili if you have one)
· Salt and pepper
· 2x 400g of black eyed beans
· 2x 400g tins of kidney beans
In a pan with a few glugs of oil, gently fry the chopped onion for around 5 minutes, until it goes soft and translucent. Add the chili flakes, bay leaf and chipotle paste, along with salt and pepper, and fry for another 2 minutes. Now add the black eyed beans and kidney beans along with a little more oil and bring to a simmer.
Simmer for around 10 minutes, then once the beans are cooked through, turn off the heat of the pan and take out the bay leaf. Using a potato masher or the back of a fork, mash the beans to form a rough paste.
Now add back to the frying pan and cook on a low heat to allow all the flavours to intensify. Check for seasoning and add a little more salt, pepper or chili flakes if you fancy it. This will happily heat away for about 10 more minutes.
Grilled corn tacos
Ideally use grilled corn, but tinned is also fine if you're short on time.
Makes enough for about 12 tacos
· Vegetable oil
· 2 onions, chopped small
· 2 garlic cloves, chopped
· 1 green chili, finely chopped
· 2 courgettes, chopped down into small cubes the same size as sweetcorn
· 200g sweetcorn
· Juice of 1 lime
· Handful of mint
· Handful of tarragon or 1 tbsp of dried tarragon
In a large pan slowly sweat the onion, garlic and chili in plenty of vegetable oil- making sure none of it burns, for about ten minutes. Bring another pan of water to boil and add the courgettes. Back in the onion pan, add the lime juice, mint and tarragon, along with some more oil, and seasoning to taste. Keep the pan on a low heat as you add in the courgettes and sweetcorn. Taste the mixture once more and add some extra herbs/juice/ seasoning to your liking- you should be able to taste every flavour. Once it's fragrant and all cooked through you're ready to serve.
Baba ganoush-stuffed mushrooms
Makes enough for four baked mushrooms
· 2 aubergines
· 3 crushed garlic cloves
· Juice of 1 lemon
· 2 tbsp tahini
· 3 tbsp olive oil, plus a little more for baking the mushrooms
· Salt and pepper
· 1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
· 4 flat mushrooms
Keeping the aubergines whole, grill them on the barbeque until their skins start to blister. Once they're cooked through, scoop out the flesh into a mixing bowl, and add in the crushed garlic cloves, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, salt and pepper and parsley. Mash with a potato masher or blend with a hand blender if you have one.
Brush the mushrooms all over with a little olive oil, then spoon in the baba ganoush filling, packing it in as you go. Grill for about 10 minutes and serve in place of burgers.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.