Fireworks and good company can turn a 4th of July celebration into something unforgettable, but the grill is the irreplaceable bedrock at the heart of any halfway-respectable celebration of America’s independence. That’s easy enough to say, but firing up the barbie can involve a bit more nuance if you’re cooking for a crowd of vegans—especially if you want to satisfy a carnivore or two as well.
If you’re an omnivorous grillmeister planning a meal for vegan guests, or vice versa, have no fear: we’ve put together a 4th of July grill-menu that will please revelers of every dietary persuasion!
For an appetizer, try Lee Watson’s Seitan & Sweet Potato Kebabs, originally published in Peace & Parsnips. And for the main dish, don’t forget the all-mighty burger: Lukas Volger’s Portabello Burgers from Veggie Burgers Every Which Way prove that you don’t need beef for a satisfying patty. Finally, if anyone at your 4th party still thinks that vegan food “just doesn’t have enough flavor,” try Kristy Turner’s famous Barbecue Sauce, originally published in But I Could Never Go Vegan!
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SEITAN & SWEET POTATO KEBABS
From Peace & Parsnips by Lee Watson
Prep and cook time: 160 minutes
Full of tang and sweetness, these kebabs are the perfect skewer to whip out when you have friends and family coming over who are not part of the tofu brigade. Try to buy seitan in big chunks for these kebabs – it tastes like meat (which will confuse everybody!).
Makes 6 Large Kebabs
• 8½ ounces (240g) seitan, well drained, cut into 2-inch (5cm) chunks
• 2 tablespoons tamari
• 2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch (2.5cm) cubes
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 2-inch (5cm) chunks
• 1 green bell pepper, cut into 2-inch (5cm) chunks
• 1 plantain, cut into 2-inch (5cm) chunks
• 1 red onion, cut into quarters, then halved
• 6 large red chilies (if you like chilies!)
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• Sea salt and freshly ground
• Black pepper
• 6 handfuls of watercress or spinach (optional, for garnish)
1. You will need six long wooden or metal skewers. If you are using wooden ones, soak them in water for 1 hour beforehand (this stops them from burning).
2. Either preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) or start heating your barbecue grill. You can also use a grill pan on the stove. Put the seitan into a bowl (squeezing out any excess liquid) and add the tamari. Mix together and leave to marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge. Toss the sweet potatoes in a little vegetable oil and roast in the oven for 20 minutes to soften them slightly before barbecuing.
3. Have all your ingredients handy. You don’t have to be exact, just get a good spread of seitan and vegetables on each kebab, completing each one with a nice fat chili. Place on a large tray or platter, brush well with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Make the mango barbecue sauce. Leave 6 tablespoons of the sauce in the food processor and blend until smooth. This will be your marinade for the kebabs. The rest will be your sauce.
5. The key here is to not burn the kebabs on the barbecue (it’s a lot easier to control the temperature in an oven). The heat must be constant, but not blazing. Wait until the flames have died down and there is a white glow to the embers – about 30 minutes. Spread them out a little to form a good base of heat, then place your oiled kebabs on the grill.
6. Barbecue the kebabs for 10 minutes, turning them regularly but not overdoing it. Once they are well colored, begin to brush on your marinade and continue turning and basting for 10 minutes. If using a grill pan, set it on medium and turn the kebabs every few minutes. They should take 15–20 minutes – baste them regularly towards the end of cooking. You can also oven-roast the veggies.
BEST PORTOBELLO BURGERS
From Veggie Burgers Every Which Way by Lukas Volger
Prep and cook time: 30 minutes
No matter how many variations on a hamburger a typical burger joint menu offers, the prevailing way of preparing portobello mushroom burgers in restaurants is to drench them in cheap, cloyingly sweet balsamic vinegar. The first thing I realized when I began developing my portobello burger was that the mushroom needed a savory marinade. Enter miso paste, the fermented soybean paste that is the basis of miso soup and soy sauce. For years I’ve been adding miso to salad dressings and marinades—why not use it to season a portobello burger? The results blew me away. Miso offers a warm, nuanced saltiness that perfectly complements the natural earthiness of the mushroom.
Makes 4 Burgers
• 4 medium portobello mushrooms
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
• 2 teaspoons miso paste
• ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Trim off the stems of the mushrooms and scrape out the gills with a spoon. Place the caps in a large baking dish or mixing bowl.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, miso, and pepper. Pour over the mushrooms and, using your hands, toss to ensure that all the mushrooms are evenly coated. Marinate for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours.
3. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, rounded tops down, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes total, flipping them halfway through. The mushrooms should be tender in the thick center. Watch for them to release their juices, and then for most of the liquid to cook off the pan.
Grill Method: Prepare a medium fire over a charcoal or gas grill. Grill the mushrooms over an open flame for a total of 10 to 12 minutes, beginning with the rounded top down and flipping halfway through.
From But I Could Never Go Vegan! by Kristy Turner
Prep and cook time: 35 minutes
You may be wondering, “What about BBQ sauce isn’t vegan?” Well, often the sugar used in barbecue sauces (and in a majority of processed foods) is refined through bone char (charred animal bones). Some brands also use honey or other non-vegan ingredients. Several vegan BBQ sauces are out there, but if you’re on a budget, a pricy bottle of vegan BBQ sauce may not make the cut. Luckily, making it at home is a snap and tastes so much better! The rich, smoky-sweet flavor of this sauce makes it a must-have staple for any vegan kitchen.
Makes 4 cups
• 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• ½ medium red onion, very finely chopped
• One 30-ounce can (890 ml) or two 15-ounce (445 ml) cans unsalted tomato sauce
• ¼ cup (40 g) + 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or vegan brown sugar
• ¼ cup (60 ml) apple cider vinegar
• 3 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
• 2 tablespoons liquid aminos
• 2 tablespoons ume plum vinegar or plain distilled vinegar
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
• ½ teaspoon ancho chile powder
• 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
• 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
• Salt and black pepper to taste
1. Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the onion and sauté until
just beginning to become translucent. Remove from the heat.
2. Transfer the onion mixture to a blender; add the tomato sauce, coconut sugar, apple cider vinegar, blackstrap molasses, liquid aminos, ume plum vinegar, cumin, paprika, and chile powder. Blend until smooth.
3. Transfer the mixture to the pot, bring to a boil, and quickly reduce the heat to low. Let simmer 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the mustard, liquid smoke, salt, and pepper. Remove the pot from the heat. Let cool before transferring to a jar or bottle. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 10 to 14 days.
Recipes from Peace & Parsnips: Adventurous Vegan Cooking For Everyone © Lee Watson, 2016; Veggie Burgers Every Which Way: Fresh, Flavorful and Healthy Vegan and Vegetarian Burgers–Plus Toppings, Sides, Buns and More © Lukas Volger, 2010; But I Could Never Go Vegan!: 125 Recipes that Prove You Can Live Without Cheese, It’s Not All Rabbit Food, and Your Friends Will Still Come Over for Dinner © Kristy Turner, 2014. All reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. theexperimentpublishing.com