Summer cookouts and picnics are fun— friends, food, fresh air and, with luck, sunshine. The informal, often potluck, atmosphere makes it easy for everyone to eat what they like— so it should be easy to eat veg. At the same time, I find it’s also a difficult time to be vegetarian—because the main stage is the grill and the main topic is meat.
Familiar vegetarian and vegan foods at the cookout are often side dishes. And this is one occasion where I’m usually pretty content to make a meal of food that other people consider side dishes. There are lots to choose from—and it gives a sometimes rare opportunity to taste food made by friends and family whose cooking usually centers on meat.
Here are some of my favorite vegetarian and vegan foods to bring to the cookout; these are great choices for hosts who want to offer food that can appeal to all their guests. I’ve linked to recipes from a wide variety of cooking sites on the web:
for the vegetarian & vegan grill
- grilled portobello mushroom— put it on a bun with all the burger fixin’s
- grilled pizza with your favorite veggies
- burritos—why not? just make your favorite burrito, coat it lightly with oil and put it on the grill until warmed through and crispy on the outside
- roasted vegetable kabobs
- crusty bread with grilled vegetables and pesto, hummus or red pepper spread
- roasted corn on the cob
- baked potatoes or fries
For grilling, of course, you can buy lots of veg burgers, hot dogs, sausages and other meat-like processed foods. I think some of these are great, but they’re an acquired taste, so I usually avoid them at cookouts. Depending on the crowd, you can bring some to grill and share.
hearty veg side dishes
- potato salad—made without mayo; use a delicious vinegar or mustard dressing
- cole slaw—made with a vinegar dressing, instead of mayo, it’ll be vegan and it’ll keep longer
- seven layered bean dip & chips—for a vegan version, swap the sour cream and cheese layers with another tasty treat, like shredded fresh veggies or garlicky mashed potatoes
- baked beans—some recipes have pork, some don’t
- bean salad—the classic 3 bean salad is usually veg, but sometimes people add bacon
- plus, there are more salads, fresh veggies and fresh fruits than I can list– but plenty to fill your plate!
Enjoy the party! Værsågod! (Norwegian for ‘dig in!’)