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Embrace Plant-Based Grilling This Summer

Plant-based grilling is the barbecue of the future. Here are some easy additions to better balance out your next backyard barbecue.

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Have you ever been to a backyard barbecue and feel like 90 percent of the choices revolved around meat? While everyone else is chowing down on burgers and sausages, you’re stuck searching for the vegetarian dish someone forgot to bring. Here are some delicious plant-based grilling ideas to better balance out your next backyard barbecue.

Give jackfruit a try

Contrary to BBQ folklore, you don’t need to eat meat to enjoy a backyard cookout. There are actually some really delicious plant-based meat alternatives that taste close to the real thing. One of those foods is jackfruit. Jackfruit is a large tropical fruit that grows in South and Southeast Asia and is part of the fig and breadfruit family. Jackfruit is also the largest tree in the world! 

It’s not widely available in grocery stores, but you may be lucky enough to find it in Asian markets and grocery stores. The most popular format is canned or boxed jackfruit,  which you’ll find in a well-stocked grocery store. 

Some of the best ways to enjoy it grilled is pulled jackfruit burgers, which are growing in popularity, or pulled jackfruit on tacos. You might be thinking, “Do I really want fruit in my burger?”. But trust us, when it’s ripe, it tastes sweet but when it’s unripe, which you’ll find in cans and boxes, the flavor is neutral and the texture makes it an uncanny dupe for pulled pork. 

Think of jackfruit as a blank canvas that soaks up any seasoning and flavor you add to it. This makes it a perfect addition to your plant-based grilling menu. Start by sautéing some onions and garlic and then add jackfruit and your favorite spices. A great combo for that BBQ feel would be either liquid smoke or smoked paprika, chili powder and cumin. Stir it all together and add a bit of veggie stock to soften the jackfruit and grill in a heatproof pan over medium-low for up to 15 minutes. Use two forks to shred the jackfruit as it starts to cook down and continue to grill until your desired texture is reached.

Swap meaty skewers for tofu-veggie kabobs

Meat skewers are always a hit at BBQs since they’re both easy and fun to eat. There’s only one problem – they’re either entirely meat or veggie or a combination of the two. But what if you’re looking for some plant-based protein? Enter tofu veggie skewers! Simply mix together soy sauce or tamari, maple syrup, olive oil, and garlic. Marinate tofu cubes for an hour and then thread onto skewers with your favorite chopped veggies, such as mushrooms and peppers. Add pineapple for a sweet, tropical twist.

Try: Tofu Mushroom Bourguignon Skewers 

Try eggplant or portobello burgers

Eggplant’s meaty texture makes it perfect as a meat replacement in a burger. Even if you’re a meat lover, eggplant burgers won’t disappoint. Simply slice and grill or roast eggplant and then toss into a food processor with some white beans for extra protein, and your favorite blend of herbs and spices. Either return the patties to your grill or bake it in the oven and then add your favorite toppings and choice of burger bun or lettuce wrap. 

Another delicious meat swap is portobello mushrooms and the texture is one of the closest you’ll get to a beef burger. Simply remove the stem, wash thoroughly and grill with a little salt and pepper for 8 to 10 minutes and add to your favorite burger bun or lettuce wrap with all your favorite toppings and condiments.

Try: Portobello Peach and Arugula Burgers

Here are a few more of our favorite plant-based grilling recipes to try this spring and summer: