Think barbecue and most of us will expect meat to be on the menu. But with Roy Morgan Research recently finding that almost 10 per cent of Australians identify as vegetarian*, it’s a good idea to have a few veggie-friendly barbecue dishes up your sleeve.
Likewise, people who are vegetarian shouldn’t shun the barbecue. Modern barbecues with solid steel hotplates, like Heatlie’s Island Gourmet Elite, are ideal for cooking vegetable stir-fries, pancakes, omelettes and flat breads – basically anything you can cook in a frypan or wok. A solid steel hotplate is also a much healthier option than an open-grill barbecue, as food isn’t exposed to the naked flame, which can cause carcinogens. A good quality hotplate will also require a minimal amount of oil for cooking – I use a light olive oil spray on the hotplate before cooking stir-fries and most vegetable-based dishes and find this works a treat. A barbecue with a roasting hood is also a vegetarian’s friend, enabling you to bake dishes like spinach and ricotta ravioli, veggie lasagne or moussaka.
Whether you’re a vegetarian, are planning to entertain veggie-loving family or friends or just want to get more out of your barbecue, why not try some of my meat-free ideas for your next barbecue.
Pizza perfect – people are often surprised when I tell them I often cook pizza on my barbecue hotplate. In reality, it’s so easy and a great option for vegetarians and carnivores alike. Simply roll your dough (either homemade or shop bought) to fit your pizza – I find a thin base works best on the barbie. Top with a generous layer of tomato sugo then with fresh, ripe tomatoes and chunks of mozzarella, taking care not to overload the base with too many ingredients or it may go soggy. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes with the hood down, checking regularly, and scatter fresh basil leaves over before serving. (If you don’t have a hood you can still cook a pizza on the barbie but allow an extra 5-10 minutes.) Another veggie-friendly topping is finely sliced kipfler potatoes (washed but not peeled), sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.
Vegetable skewers – cut red onion, capsicum and zucchini in large chunks and soak in a vinaigrette of 80% red wine vinegar and 20% extra virgin olive oil, one red chilli and two sprigs of rosemary and thyme for as long as possible – a day is great. When you’re ready to barbecue, assemble the vegetables and cherry tomatoes onto wooden skewers, alternating between the various ingredients. (The Heatlie Island Gourmet Elite doesn’t give off a flame so there’s no need to pre-soak the skewers, however you might need to do this depending on your type of barbecue.) Cook on a low hotplate and turn frequently until the vegetables start to caramelise and are just cooked. Drizzle the reserved vinaigrette over the skewers and serve with a green salad.
Barbecued vegetables – chop potatoes and pumpkin into large chunks and tumble into a large roasting dish. Add quartered red onions, chunks of zucchini, a few whole unpeeled garlic cloves and scatter over some fresh rosemary, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the baking dish on the barbecue with hood down and cook for approximately 40 minutes on a medium heat, or until just vegetables are just tender, then crumble over feta and cook for a further ten minutes. This veggie feast is great served with fresh basil pesto or a Chimichuri sauce made from parsley, garlic and vinegar, along with warmed flat breads.
Haloumi burgers – slice haloumi into one-centimetre thick pieces and cut a red or yellow capsicum into strips. Fry the haloumi on the hotplate until golden brown and the capsicum until just soft. Cut sour-dough buns in half and briefly toast on the hotplate, then remove. Assemble the burgers with salad greens, the haloumi and capsicum, topping with a dollop of pesto or tomato chutney. You could also add grilled eggplant, zucchini or finely sliced pumpkin to your burger.
Barbecued field mushrooms stuffed with roasted capsicum and couscous
- 5 field mushrooms
- 1 red capsicum
- 1 green capsicum
- 250g couscous
Prepare couscous according to packet instructions.
De-seed red and green capsicums and cut in half. Roast capsicum on hotplate until medium soft, then remove and cut into small, even pieces, approximately two centimetres square.
Remove the stems from the field mushrooms and wash the caps carefully.
In a bowl add roasted capsicum and couscous and mix together. Place mixture evenly inside the five field mushrooms, then place on the hotplate on a high heat until cooked. Serve with a green salad and fresh natural yoghurt.