Vegetarian Delight

Bring your veggies outside and embrace meat-­free barbecuing for fresh and healthy meals

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 such as 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 such as spinach and ricotta ravioli, veggie lasagne or moussaka.

Whether you’re a vegetarian, are planning to entertain veggie-loving guests or just want to get more out of your barbecue, why not try some of these tasty meal-free ideas?

PIZZA PERFECT

People are often surprised when I tell them I cook pizza on my barbecue hotplate. It’s so easy and a great option for vegetarians and carnivores alike. Simply roll your dough (either homemade or store bought) to fit your pizza. I find a thin base works best on the barbie. Top with a generous layer of

tomato sugo (sauce), then 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 15-20 minutes with the hood down, checking regularly and scatter fresh basil leaves over before serving. If you don’t have a hood. allow an extra 5-10 minutes.

Another veggie-friendly topping is finely sliced Kipfler potatoes sprinkled with extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt.

VEGETABLE SKEWERS

Cut red onion, capsicum and zucchini into large chunks and soak in a vinaigrette of 80 per cent red wine vinegar and 20 per cent 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. 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 chunks and tumble into a large roasting dish. Add quartered red onions, chunks of zucchini, a few whole, unpeeled garlic cloves and scatter with some fresh rosemary. 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 the hood down and cook for approximately 40 minutes on a medium heat or until vegetables are just tender. Crumble over feta and cook for a further 10 minutes. This veggie feast is great served with fresh basil pesto or a chimichurri sauce made from parsley. garlic and vinegar along with warmed flat bread.

HALOUMI BURGERS

Slice haloumi into lcm-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 sourdough buns in half and briefly toast on the hotplate before removing. Assemble the burgers with salad greens. 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.

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