August 9, 2014
The fact of the matter is that vegetarianism is nothing new when we look at it globally. Many cultures have been practicing vegetarianism for millennia, while in our own culture it could still be considered to be in its embryonic stage. That being said and thanks to the wonders of modern technology and the internet, vegetarian recipes abound. Having learnt a thing or two from cultures that can whip up such amazing vegetarian meals to the point that you wouldn’t even miss the meat, we can finally say that we too are “vegetable savvy”! Many a fantastic vegetarian dish can come directly off the barbie!
After a bit of research it’s actually incredibly interesting to discover just how many forms of vegetarianism there are, I was amazed! Pescatarians who abstain from eating all meat but fish, Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians who abstain from all animal flesh but that do eat dairy products and eggs, Vegans who avoid all animal products all together, and the newly coined Flexitarians who appreciate a vegetarian diet most of the time however, do from time to time indulge in a meat dish. There are others of course!
All that being said, I’m a whole-hearted omnivore, I eat it and love it all, except liver but I’ll cook it to perfection for anyone who does! I have to say though that I am very partial to veggies, all of them, and when it comes to grilling and creating delicious food with them, be it as simple as grilling and tossing them with olive oil, coarse salt and herbs, or more complex recipes, I can easily make a meal out of vegetables that completely satisfies me (and leaves me very full sometimes!) and I haven’t missed meat at all. This is the first in our vegetarian series and even if you’re a full fledged carnivore, many of the dishes in this series make excellent sides to any grilled meats.
In this, Part 1 of our vegetarian series, I’m going to show you how to prepare two easy dishes, and a veggie-burger which takes only a few minutes of time in the kitchen to prepare before you’re out in front of the grill flipping patties onto the bun! You’ll notice in this picture the stainless steel tray and bamboo board it’s sitting in. It’s perfect for anything vegetarian. Chop on the back of the board, flip it over and fit the steel tray back in, pop your veggies in the tray, marinate and off to the grill you go! Click on the image for details!
This dish is a simple one! In fact, many vegetarian dishes are very simple to prepare and their flavour comes from the pure goodness of the produce you’re using, so it’s very important to buy fresh vegetables . Whether they’re organic or not is completely up to you of course however, don’t skimp on the freshness! That’s rule number one in vegetarian cooking.
And here you have it! A simple and easy vegetarian dish or meat-lover’s side. Grilled zucchini, carrots, tomato and Haloumi cheese, marinated in corse salt, black pepper, fresh oregano and extra virgin olive oil. Once the tomatoes are grilled, and be careful as they fall very quickly, chop finely with garlic and serve atop a mound of the other grilled vegetables and cheese. Delicious!
Our next dish features the notorious beet root. If there was a vegetable that should have a complex, the beet would be that vegetable. Hated yet loved by so many, it’s hard to tell what I’d feel like if I were a beet however, they’re delicious none the less and in Australia, a burger just wouldn’t be the same without a slice!
That being said, these beets are headed for the grill, not for a bun! Grilled beets are excellent and I suggest you grill them over moderate heat. Beets are jam-packed with sugar and as such, if your heat is too high, you’ll burn them without even cooking them, so be patient. You needn’t season them as the beets will be added into a salad as you’ll see next. Simply rub them with extra virgin olive oil first and grill the slices for about 7 minutes on each side or until tender. If you don’t have a good toolset for the barbie, check out the 2 piece deluxe tool set I’m using in this post. Click on the image for more details!
And here we have it, grilled beet, tomato and goat cheese salad. Simply drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with Murray River salt, black pepper and finish it off with fresh coriander. Refreshing and really tasty!
Our “piece de resistance” in this first vegetarian post is our BBQXL black bean and cumin burger. I have to tell you, my dad’s a vegan and was visiting in July. As a retiree, he spends a lot of time travelling and he’s never quite sure what to expect when it comes to food because he’s a vegan. However, he has a very good friend in Anguilla in the Caribbean and visits with her about once a year. I recall a vague mention of a veggie burger he once ate there and he said it was amazing. So, I put myself to the test and low and behold, as of this July, this veggie burger is now at the top of his list!
Have everything ready. This way, once the burgers are done grilling, you can assemble them right from the barbie!
Here’s a bit of technique when making veggie burgers, as they will virtually always stick to any grill, yet you want those coveted grill lines! When the grill is hot, place a piece of foil on it and mould it around the grill using your tongs. The grill should already be hot for this because when you do it on a cold grill and light the grill afterwards, the foil blows away. Use protective gloves to hold the foil in place when doing this.
Using olive oil, grease the foil and heat the grill until the oil is smoking. You can alternatively use a cast-iron hotplate however, in my experience, burgers made with pulses of any kind such and beans or lentils are high in carbohydrates and have a tendency to stick to cast iron!
Place the patties on the foil and allow to cook until you have those amazing grill lines. They will stick lightly but don’t worry, they will give way once ready to flip. On the opposite side of the grill prepare another oiled foil sheet for when the burgers are ready to be turned as you can’t cook them on the same foil or they’ll stick.
Once one side is ready, flip them onto the new piece of foil and discard the old. If using cheese, place it on the cooked side when the underside is nearly ready.
When the cheese has melted, it’s time for the bun!
And here we have it! The black bean and cumin burger, topped with whatever you like but don’t hold back on the coriander! Click on the image for the recipe!
Enjoy and happy grilling!