Barbecues are not for carnivores only. Meat-munchers do not have a monopoly on the sun, beer and the cheer of springtime gatherings while vegetarians sit inside moping over their millet-tofu-carrot patties. Grilled eggplant, corn in the husk and jacketed potatoes can make delicious and substantial meals if prepared with imagination. So move over, burger breath, here come some new ideas for a meatless BBQ with all the trimmings.
Grilling marinated vegetables is a colorful choice. "The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook" (by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, Workman Publishing, 1984) offers this recipe: To serve 8, splash 2 cups of olive oil, 1 cup white wine, 8 crushed garlic cloves, 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves, 1/4 cup fresh rosemary, salt and pepper together and immerse about 8 pounds of vegetables, including new red potatoes, baby artichokes, shallots, Italian eggplants, plum tomatoes, small green, red, and yellow peppers in the marinade for an hour. Remove the vegetables from the marinade, reserving the marinade, and roast at 400 degrees for 35 minutes before grilling.
String fresh herbs such as rosemary, basil, parsley in between vegetables as you string them on skewers for grilling. Grill the vegetables about 6 inches from the heat, basting frequently with the marinade about 6 minutes on each side.
Serve grilled vegetables with flavored butters. Corn on the cob is delicious with Jalapen o Pepper Butter. To make, blend 1/2 cup unsalted butter with 2 jalapen o peppers, seeded and finely minced, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin.
Top vegetables with homemade olivada by pitting 3 cups of imported black olives and processing to a pure'e in food processor. Add about 2 tablespoons olive oil to bind and process to a thick smooth paste. Add more oil if needed. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
Double your output and grill stuffed vegetables. Cut the tops off tomatoes and squeeze out the seeds. Fill the cavity with pepper or caraway seasoned melting cheeses and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil and cook about 5 minutes until the tomatoes soften and the cheese melts.
Try stuffed potatoes; bake the potatoes, scoop out the flesh and mash with your favorite fillings, stuff the potato shell with the filling, wrap each potato in aluminum foil and grill 5 to 10 minutes on each side until the potato is heated through.
But if you just have to have that BBQ feeling of chomping down on an oozing, gooey, charcoal-crusted burger, try meatless hot dogs and vegetable burgers. They are available at health-food stores. Yes Natural Gourmet, in particular, sells Lightlife Meatless Tofu Pups and Light Foods' Tofu Light Links which are both cholesterol free and low calorie. They also have tempeh burgers, already in patties, and tofu burger mixes. Top your sizzling treats with natural ketchups and barbeque sauces, low in sugar and without artificial additives.
So the next time those muscley meat odors waft over the fence and into your back yard, charge up your own charcoal fires and create a barbeque feast that's fresh and filling. The two recipes below require only sugar, oil, salt and pepper before you dash through the express lane.
Remember to oil the grid before cooking vegetables if they are not wrapped in foil.
EXPRESS LANE: potatoes, mustard, red wine vinegar, onions, yellow peppers, goat cheese, basil, tomatoes
ROASTED POTATOES (4 to 6 servings)
1 1/2 pounds red new potatoes
1/2 cup dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 large yellow onions, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Cook the potatoes in boiling, salted water 5 minutes. Rinse under cold running water; drain. Cut into 1/2-inch thick slices. Coat the slices well with mustard.
Combine the red wine vinegar and sugar and sprinkle over the onions. Combine the potatoes and onions. Season with pepper and toss lightly to mix.
Place the potato and onion mixture in a hinged grill basket and grill over medium-hot, direct heat until tender, about 10 minutes per side. Or wrap the mixture up in aluminum foil and and set on grill for 20 to 25 minutes, turning the package over after 10 minutes.
GRILLED STUFFED YELLOW PEPPERS (4 servings)
4 large yellow bell peppers
12 ounces soft mild goat cheese, cut into 5 equal pieces
Salt and pepper for sprinkling
1 bunch fresh basil
2 ripe large plum tomatoes, sliced
1 tablespoon oil, preferably olive oil
Cut the tops from the peppers and reserve. Core and seed peppers. Press 1 piece of goat cheese in the bottom of each pepper, sprinkle the inside of each pepper with salt and pepper and place 2 basil leaves in the bottom.
Divide the tomato slices evenly over the basil. Season again to taste. Layer 2 more basil leaves in each pepper and drizzle 1/2 teaspoon oil over the basil in each pepper.
Crumble the last piece of goat cheese on top of the peppers, and season again. Replace the tops.
Rub the outside of the peppers with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and wrap in foil. Grill over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, turning it every 5 minutes.