You Won’t Miss Meat with These Vegan Barbecue Recipes

Satisfying plant-based recipes for your next cookout.

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Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Stephen Johnson, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Whether you’re a vegan or are looking to eat a more plant-based diet, rest assured that you don’t have to sacrifice taste — even when it comes to traditionally meat-heavy meals like barbecue. As these recipes prove, vegan dishes can pack as much of a flavor and texture wallop as their meaty counterparts (and might win over devout carnivores too!). Barbecues are often as much about the sides as they are the main event, and we’ve got you covered there, too. You might even find these vegan takes on classics like potato and pasta salads replacing your old standbys. These are the vegan barbecue recipes you’ll want to bookmark to grill, serve and share at your next cookout and beyond.

Lean into Meaty Substitutes

Plant-based meat substitutes have come a long way, but there are plenty of protein-packed ingredients that are primed for the grill. Try this Grilled Tofu and Broccoli with Peanut Sauce, in which tofu takes on grill marks and smoke as well as any chop or filet. Be sure to press the tofu first to drain excess moisture before marinating it in a savory mix of coconut milk, chile oil and ginger. These Vegan Lentil Burgers are a game-changing alternative to the frozen veggie burger patties of yore. They’re packed with fiber and protein and get extra flavor from a medley of sautéed onions, spinach, garlic and cumin. Binding the mixture with crushed walnuts and breadcrumbs helps them hold their shape, as does the minimum one-hour of chilling time (so plan accordingly). You can also cook em in a skillet stovetop, making this an excellent recipe to add to your weeknight repertoire.

Jackfruit, a starchy fruit with a meaty texture that’s become a popular alternative to meat, takes center stage in these BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Sandwiches. After it simmers in barbecue sauce, jackfruit takes on the texture and appearance of pulled pork — so much so that you just might fool the carnivores in your crew. For her BBQ Jackfruit Brisket, Katie Lee combines pre-shredded jackfruit with finely chopped shiitake mushrooms to create a meatless brisket that takes on the flavors of homemade barbecue sauce beautifully (though you could easily swap in a vegan-friendly store-bought variety).

Give yourself more time to hang out and opt for at least one make-ahead dish, such as Katie Lee’s Lentil and Tempeh Sloppy Joes. Lentils are simmered till tender, then combined with tempeh crumbles, a protein-packed fermented soybean product with a hearty texture. Pile onto a roll and serve with pickles and creamy avocado slices.

FNK_CouscousSaladWithTomatoesAndMint_H

FNK_CouscousSaladWithTomatoesAndMint_H

Chef Name: Food Network Kitchen Full Recipe Name: Couscous Salad with Tomatoes and Mint Talent Recipe: FNK Recipe: Food Network Kitchen’s Couscous Salad with Tomatoes and Mint, as seen on Food Network Project: Foodnetwork.com, CINCO/SUMMER/FATHERSDAY Show Name: How to Boil Water

Photo by: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Renee Comet, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Look for Seasonal Salad Inspiration

Summer’s bounty is chockful of salad inspiration with the likes of corn, tomatoes, cucumber and beans taking over produce stands and gardens. Put them to delicious use in Giada De Laurentiis’ Black Bean, Corn and Tomato Salad, which pairs the pantry staple with fresh corn kernels, chopped tomato and diced jicama, all pulled together with a citrusy dressing that’s lightly sweetened with agave. Tomatoes and cucumbers team up in this vibrant Couscous Salad with Tomatoes and Mint, which gets an extra bright burst from a flurry of fresh herbs. As a bonus, this recipe cuts down on food waste too — lemon juice dresses the veggies while the zest and herb stems bolster the couscous’ cooking liquid. We’re also a fan of Bobby Flay’s Crunchy Avocado Salad, which boasts a riot of textures from plump tomatoes, briny nicoise olives, creamy avocado, canned chickpeas and crushed blue corn tortilla chips. Bean salads are common this time of year too, but to keep things from being one note, it’s wise to employ both fresh and canned beans for contrast. We like these recipes which combine pantry staple beans with summer green and wax beans that are cooked until crisp-tender: this Garden Bean Salad favors creamy white beans while this Three-Bean Salad relies on the denser texture of meaty kidney beans.

Make Magic on the Grill with Veggies

Peak season produce can spark magic on the grill, too. Sturdy veggies like zucchini, squash, eggplant and corn on the cob can be grilled whole or sliced into wedges or thick planks. For his Farro Salad with Grilled Eggplant, Tomatoes and Onion, Bobby Flay grills Japanese eggplants and thick slices of red onion before dicing them and tossing with cherry tomatoes, fresh dill and a sherry vinaigrette-dressed farro, which adds heft and a hearty helping of fiber. In that same spirit, try Jeff Mauro’s Warm Farro Salad with Charred Corn, where cobs are grilled whole and fire-kissed till charred. The kernels are sliced from the comb and combined with cherry tomatoes, olives and pistachios to create a smoky, salty, tangy scene-stealing side. For this Provencal-inspired Grilled Ratatouille dish, all veggies get the grill treatment. Tomatoes are grilled till lightly charred, while zucchini, eggplant and red onions are cooked until tender and charred all over. The lot gets chopped and folded with olive oil, fresh herbs and garlic. This dish can be served warm or at room temperature, ideally with grilled bread for scooping and topping.

Marcela Valladolid marries two barbecue traditions — grilled veggies and coleslaw — and spins them into her Grilled Cabbage, Zucchini and Radicchio Coleslaw. She grills thick slices of grilled cabbage, zucchini and radicchio until grill marks are visible, then chops ’em into thin strips and dresses with a simple vinaigrette. It’s just the kind of easy-to-pull-off dish that yields impressive results — be prepared to share the recipe.

But don’t stop at veggies! The grill loves fruit too, especially stone fruit. For her Grilled Summer Fruit, Giada De Laurentiis’s skewers black and red plums and nectarines for grilling, but you can easily sub in peaches or apricots. The intense heat caramelizes the fruits’ sugars making them an ideal naturally sweetened dessert for rounding out your summer barbecue spread.

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Photo by: Andrea Patton

Andrea Patton

Spin Traditional Dishes into Modern Classics

No barbecue spread is complete without sides, but you can still make classic dishes like potato salad, coleslaw and pasta salad vegan-friendly without skimping on flavor — and they just might become your new go-to recipe.

For his Potato Salad with Relish Vinaigrette, Geoffrey Zakarian dresses Yukon Gold potatoes in a vinaigrette made with whole grain mustard, capers and sweet pickle relish. Pickled cherry peppers plus a duo of fresh chives and parsley add a one-two punch of color and flavor. Alex Guarnaschelli’s Roasted Potato Salad with Crispy Rosemary is another winner. Red bliss potatoes are roasted till tender, lightly crushed with a fork and then dressed in a vinaigrette that stars capers and cornichons. The final flourish is a sprinkling of crispy rosemary needles, which come together in minutes on stovetop (bonus: you’ll have a rosemary-infused oil to cook with or whisk into dressings).

Coleslaw devotees fall into two camps: mayo-based or vinegar-based. You can sub in vegan mayonnaise in recipes that call for regular mayo, but we’re here to herald the vinegar-based slaws that let the cabbage and carrots shine. Case in point? The Best Vinegar Coleslaw, which pairs a zippy white-vinegar-based dressing with tangles of thinly sliced red and green cabbage and shredded carrots. What really takes this slaw next level is the extra marinating time at the end, which allows the cabbage to really drink up the dressing and tenderizes the shreds in the process. A simple Dijon mustard and apple cider vinaigrette dresses finely shredded red cabbage in this Red Coleslaw, but the addition of halved grapes adds an unexpected pop of sweetness.

We’re not saying creamy textures don’t have a place on the table, especially when it comes to pasta salads. Try this Vegan Creamy Ranch Macaroni Salad, which skips the mayo in favor of a creamy cashew ranch dressing and adds a medley of veggies like kale, tomatoes, corn and bell pepper for added nutrition and color. For a master class in texture, check out Danielle Alex’s Vegetable Soba Noodle Salad class on the Food Network Kitchen app. Soba noodles, which are made with buckwheat, provide an earthy, toothsome base (and are naturally gluten-free), while sautéed shiitake mushrooms add savory depth and chile oil lends a whisper of a heat. Sesame oil slicks the soba noodles nicely, but you could whisk in some peanut butter to add an extra dose of creaminess, as with these Carrot Noodles with Spicy Peanut Dressing.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Whip Up Easy Apps

All of these vegan recipes can be whipped up in 20 minutes or less and many don’t even require any cooking. Giada pulls together her Tomato, Watermelon, and Basil Skewers by stacking cubes of summer sweet watermelon, halved cherry tomatoes and fresh basil, all drizzled with a balsamic syrup. Elie Krieger’s Mango Salsa comes together in just five minutes and plays the sweet tropical fruit off of garden fresh cucumbers, spicy jalapenos and red onion, all tossed together with lime juice and fresh cilantro.

A crudité platter is one of those apps that can double as a party centerpiece, particularly when its chockfull of colorful summer veggies such as cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, zucchini and green beans. Serve with a variety of dips such as Ina Garten’s Hummus, Marcela Valladolid’s Simple Guacamole, Jeff Mauro’s Roasted Beet and Mint Hummus or Edamame Hummus. One to bookmark for year-round entertaining and afternoon snacking alike is this Kale Pesto and White Bean Dip. It’s loaded with nutritious ingredients but doesn’t taste healthy thanks to a rich and creamy texture derived from white beans as well as nutritional yeast, a great dairy-free alternative to cheese.

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