Throw a Vegan-friendly BBQ!

Calico Corn Salad


Like most people, I have gone through my vegetarian phases, my vegan phases and the worst of all - my low-carb phase. So my cooking is pretty versatile. I have a lot of vegan friends who love barbecues, and it only takes a few minor changes to make them more comfortable. Even if you are super-carnivorous, you can still host a barbecue that will make your vegan friends happy. First of all, you want to clean the hell out of your grill. It's a good idea to do this at the beginning of barbecue season anyways. Then get plenty of aluminum foil. Sure, you won't get the cool grill-marks, but it is vegan etiquette for everyone to cook their big, beefy burgers and tofu dogs on separate pieces of aluminum foil. Luckily, with the profusion of veggie hot dog, burger and even bratwurst substitutes, main courses aren't much of a challenge. Just double-check to make sure the buns are vegan. There are a number of websites listing vegan products, including Peta.org. There are often hidden animal products in food that are not that obvious, so if someone is really strict, it's best to check.

After the grill is taken care of, the second most important component of a barbecue is the ice chest. Luckily, most beer is vegan, with the notable exception of honey beers and Guinness. With liquors, you want to watch out for red food coloring #4, cochineal, also known as carmine or carminic acid (trust me, you really don't want to know). It is most notably found in Campari. If you want double-check, here is a vegan beer and wine guide .


(Delicious vegan recipes after the jump!)


These are some of my favorite summer recipes that just happen to be vegan:

CALICO CORN SALAD

1 (16-oz) package frozen corn (preferably shoepeg), thawed
2 small zucchinis, diced
1/4 large red pepper, diced
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 (4-oz) can diced green chiles, drained
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 Tablespoon cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

Toss together corn, zucchini, red pepper, onion, and chiles in a large bowl.
Measure remaining ingredients into a jar or bottle with a lid. Shake well.
Pour liquid over salad and stir gently. Refrigerate overnight.


GRILLED VEGETABLES

1 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. each: Garlic powder, Dried basil, parsley, oregano, herbes de provence
Salt and pepper to taste
4 - 5 pounds mixed vegetables (Zucchini, Red and yellow bell peppers, eggplant, onion, etc)
1/4 cup red wine or red wine vinegar

Mix olive oil and spices together, preferably the day before.

Halve smaller vegetables lengthwise. Quarter onions and bell peppers. Cut larger squashes crosswise.

When coals are ready, dip vegetables into olive oil mixture. BBQ until just soft. Arrange on a platter.

Mix remaining marinade with wine or wine vinegar, and pour over vegetables.


PESTO PASTA SALAD

1 (12 or 16-ounce) package mini-penne or bow-tie pasta

1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cups fresh basil, firmly packed
1/3 cup fresh parsley
14 garlic cloves (yes, really. Fourteen)
1/4 cup white wine
1 slice roasted or fresh red bell pepper
Pinch sea salt
1/2 - 1 cup olive oil

2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
3/4 cup frozen edamame
8 sun-dried tomatoes in oil.

In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions. If the pasta is done before you finish making the pesto, toss with a little olive oil and set aside.

Meanwhile, Toast pine nuts in a toaster oven or in a pan over the stove for 3-4 minutes, watching not to burn them.

In a blender or food processor, combine pine nuts, basil, parsley, garlic, wine, bell pepper and salt with 1/2 cup olive oil. Blend. Keep blending and adding olive oil until pesto has reached its desired consistency.

In a medium pan, saute the mushrooms in a Tablespoon of olive oil until they begin to change color to a light tan, about 4 minutes.

Put the edamame in a bowl with a few tablespoons of water and microwave for 2 minutes, then drain (If you have your timing down you could just add them to the pasta a few minutes before it is done).

Slice the sun-dried tomatoes carefully into thin strips (they are slippery).

Toss everything together in a big bowl and refrigerate.


Pesto Pasta


(Photographs taken by Elise Thompson for LAist)