When authors Karen Schulz and Maren Jahnke set out to create their new cookbook, Vegetarian Grilling: 60 Recipes for a Meatless Summer, they write that they received varied reactions from family and friends: “from compassionate, taunting laughter (from the men) to complete enthusiasm because the monotony of grilling was about to come to an end (from the women).” They write that the latter reaction was the inspiration for the book.
While we would never laugh at anyone making a contribution to the world of grilling (after all, we are all about the grilling, in whatever form it takes) we must admit to a twinge of momentary hesitation. We are quite sure that somewhere far, far back in our lineage, there is a caveman (possibly named Og) holding a piece of meat over a fire (possibly with his bare hands) who has ingrained within us the idea that GRILLING MEANS MEAT. After thoroughly reviewing the delights that Vegetarian Grilling has to offer, though, we have news for Og: you were wrong, dude. And get your hand out of the fire.
Vegetarian Grilling is a wonder on so many levels. First, it’s a firm stand for great food well prepared, which should be the hallmark of any grillmaster’s stock-in-trade. Secondly, it offers excellent alternatives for the grillmaster’s guests who just aren’t into the endless smorgasbord of burgers, dogs, sausages, brats, steaks, et cetera, that comes off of American grills every summer. Lastly, even if you are cooking meats, Vegetarian Grilling offers a parade of wonderful companion dishes that will liven up any cookout, and free your guests from the same old pots of potato and macaroni salads which heretofore have been your meal’s only sides.
The book’s recipes are inspired by cooking styles from all over the world, from Mexico to the Mediterranean and all points in between. The book includes tips on where to buy the freshest ingredients, how to prep your veggies, and the tools you’ll need to grill them properly. The authors also include instructions on how to substitute ingredients that will turn vegetarian entrees into vegan dishes, ensuring that everyone at your cookout has something wonderful and special to enjoy.
We’ve highlighted two fantastic recipes below: first, Flatbread Skewers, which will yield a delicious melody of tomatoes, chilies, Turkish flatbread, and cheese; and Mangoes with Scallion Vinaigrette, which just may open up a whole new world of flavors for you as you begin to grill fruit (apples, apricots, and pineapples are among the other fruits that roast over the fire in the pages of Vegetarian Grilling). And be sure to check out the liquid refreshment recommended by the Big Chill below the recipes.
So with all due apologies to Og, we are delighted to add the recipes of Vegetarian Grilling to our repertoire, and to our regular grilling rotation. You should, too!
8 pickled mild chili peppers
4 oz. Turkish flatbread
7 oz. (200 g) firm sheep cheese
5 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sumac
Salt and freshly ground peppercorn
6 metal skewers
Wash the tomatoes and cut into segments. Dry peppers, halving larger ones. Cut the flatbread and cheese into about twelve cubes each. Spear the tomatoes, peppers, bread, and cheese onto skewers, alternating.
Mix the olive oil with the oregano and sumac. Add salt and pepper. Drizzle the oil over the skewers and let it soak in for about 15 minutes. Grill the skewers over high heat for about eight minutes, brushing with spiced oil.
Yields four servings
3 tsp wild honey
3 tbsp lemon juice
5 tbsp sunflower oil
4 ripe, firm mangoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Wash the scallions and chop finely. Mix the honey with the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Mix in the oil. Fold in the chopped scallions.
Cut two thick sections from the sides of the mangoes. Cut crosswise into the flesh of the mangoes, but do not cut through the skin. Brush the sections lightly with the scallion vinaigrette. Grill the mango halves face down for three minutes over high heat. Turn the pieces over and grill for an additional two minutes while brushing the mangoes with the remaining vinaigrette.
Once again, Grill Daddy has presented a challenge in selecting a wine for these dishes, but once again, we’re up to the challenge. There are a number of fine choices that would go very well with these featured recipes.
For fans of white wines, try a Pinot Grigio (especially from Italy, or, to be more precise, an Alto Adige from northern Italy) or a Pino Gris. A chardonnay or a Riesling would also work well.
If you prefer red wine, try a Beaujolais, a Pinot Noir, or a fruity-styled Merlot.
Another great choice for these dishes might be Sangria, or a Margarita, if you’re in the mood.
Here’s to a great meal!