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Vegetarian Grilling: Ideas?

I'm a generally creative home cook, but when it comes to vegetarian grilling options (as in, outdoor charcoal grilling), I'm stumped. (Note: I'm not a complete vegetarian, just a mostly-vegetarian with lots of vegetarian friends.) Other than the classic veggie kabob, any ideas for non-meat grilling options? Specifically any tips/recipes for grilling tofu would be awesome! Thanks, chowhounds!

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  1. For tofu, press it first to remove as much water as possible. I marinate it in soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil and garlic.

    I also love grilled corn. Remove the outer husk and peel back the inner layers. Take out the silk. Spread a mixture of butter, thyme, salt & pepper on the corn, close the leaves back up and tie shut with a strip of husk.

    11 Replies
    1. re: small h

      i prefer corn grilled without the husk. A simple coating of olive oil and salt and cook till lightly charred all around.

      1. re: ESNY

        Yes, that's good, too. But I usually grill four or five different vegetables, and I think it's nice to have some variety - some things straight-up grilled, others a little more steamed or roasted. I also wrap potatoes in foil and throw them right on the coals, if I have the time. One heat source, many kinds of finished product.

        1. re: ESNY

          corn basted with a melted butter/soy sauce/green onion combo is amazing, just bast and turn until each side is lightly charred

          also if you vege friends eat cheese
          - feta wrapped in grape leaves goes great on the grill
          - brie on a cedar plank with grilled pineapple/jalepeno salsa

          1. re: tearingmonkey

            cedar planked brie??? omg please tell me in more detail i must try this!!!

            1. re: sarabean

              really simple- soak your cedar plank in water for about 30 min, place a round of brie (cut ones will ooze too much) on the the plank
              -put any chutney on top but I usually use grilled pineapple/jalepeno salsa.
              - bbq for about 20 min on med - high heat or until the brie is melting soft and smoked slightly.
              If you want a more smokey flavour brie put the chutney on at the end or the side of the brie later. Serve with lots of bread

                1. re: nofunlatte

                  I've always used direct heat and a gas bbq for this - but charcoal might require indirect if the coals are not burned down

                  1. re: lexpatti

                    my family is going to FLIP over this. ingenious idea!

              1. re: tearingmonkey

                me too, details of this brie Please...... I just picked up a package of those cedar planks!

          2. I will grill just about anything that I can get on my small Weber. Favorites are squash, yellow or zucchini, tossed with oil,salt,pepper,whatever spices I like, and put on medium or off direct heat, and cook till done. Apples in the fall, avocados that are just about ripe with a dollop of salsa. Most of this stuff I do not turn, so just like meat, low and slow is good.
            "Good God Almighty, I'm Hungry! So Let's Eat!"

            1. sliced eggplant is great grilled too, and sliced zuchinni or summer squash lengthwise (marinated in italian type dressing).

              1. Grilled portobello mushroom 'burgers' with grilled sweet onion. Yummy!

                2 Replies
                1. re: vstock

                  Oh yea!!! Forgot about that one. Rachael R did a really nice stuffed portobello that I just loved, basically a panzanella salad in a grill portobello - it's excellent!!

                  1. re: vstock

                    I love making those. I marinate the shrooms first with a balsamic vinaigrette, poke some holes in them so they can absorb the flavor. Then leave them on the counter in a ziploc for a few hours. And I love to top mine with cheddar, arugula & avocado. But they are also delicious with goat cheese and roasted red pepper.

                  2. There is a fantastic book called The Vegetarian Grill by Andrea Chesman that I used as a jumping off point years ago. Everything from basic kabobs and marinated grilled vegetables to grilled vegetable lasagna, salads, pizza etc. IMO almost anything that can be done inside can be done on the grill - often better. I have a grill wok that i do stir fry in and also use it to grill all the vegetables for fajitas. I've even thrown black beans on with onions for burritos. I agree with the long/slow method because even on a gas grill it imparts more flavor. Tofu I usually do in marinated slabs and then slice when it comes of the grill. I use a marinade of lime, vinegar, cumin, sugar and some chili powder then grill and slice up for tacos or fajitas. Pizza is much easier than it sounds too. I just make up a whole wheat dough in the morning, let it rise in fridge - roll it out and throw it on the grill, flip, top and close the grill till cheese is melted and toppings are done to your liking.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ghostpeppergirl

                      Grilled pizza is dynamite. What a good idea.

                    2. I just made this griled vegetable salad from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook and it was great! Grilled zucchini, asparagus, cheese (I used haloumi), and roasted tomatoes, and fresh arugula with a garlic and basil dressing. http://www.cooksister.com/2008/06/cha...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: BigSal

                        that recipe is really great; it was my first use of my mandoline to slice the veggies!

                      2. Halloumi cheese is excellent on the grill. Try Nigella's recipe: http://www.nigella.com/recipe/recipe_...

                        5 Replies
                          1. re: LauraGrace

                            Delicious with grilled flatbread or pita chips

                          2. re: ChristinaMason

                            I skewered and grilled some halloumi this weekend. Awesome! It charred a more quickly than I expected (like, instantly). But thanks for the great idea!

                            1. re: small h

                              Cool! It's yummy, isn't it? I had it for the first time last month.

                              1. re: ChristinaMason

                                Shockingly good. I had to freeze the leftover un-grilled cheese, which made it too crumbly to skewer. So I laid it on some foil and put it on the grill. It gave up a lot of liquid and got soft, and I threw it over some fresh spinach. Not as fine as the kebab version, but still pretty nice.

                          3. Grilled pizza (as ghostpeppergirl noted) or grilled flatbread. Stretch out some pizza dough, brush on oil, and plop down on the grill. After a few minutes, flip it with tongs, brush with a little more oil and put on the toppings.

                            1. I just had this at a restaurant and it was delicious.

                              On a skewer, alternate cubes of haloumi cheese with sun dried tomatoes and fresh grape tomatoes, Grill, and when done, brush with some pesto. It was really delicious!

                                1. re: the_MU

                                  With grilled lime & chopped mint. Just did this over the weekend - excellent.

                                  In the "well, I tried it" category: grilled cucumber tossed with salt & vinegar and marinated for 15 minutes, as per Mark Bittman's looooong article in the NYT last week. It was...interesting. And I won't be making it again.

                                  1. re: small h

                                    We use olive oil, honey, and either lemon or lime, and a little bit of salt. Better if the peaches (or nectarines) are sweet but just slightly underripe so they stay firm enough to flip.

                                2. Grilled polenta is always nice as a side. I'll also sometimes season and grill off a variety of veges (onions, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus, whatever is on hand) and use them to make a grilled vegetable strudel. Just lay out 3 or 4 layers of phyllo with melted butter brushed between layers, lay out the veges along one side and leave and inch and a half or so at each end, put a little goat cheese and fresh herbs on top and then start rolling in to a log. after the first roll fold the ends in to seal everything and continue rolling it up. Bake off in a 400 degree oven until the phyllo is golden brown. Really nice as an appetizer with a little buerre blanc.

                                  1. Check out my tofu kebabs with peanut sauce from a recent thread. They are shockingly good, and a great departure from your usual veggie kebabs.

                                    1. Beets - i'll parcook them a tad, then run a knife half way through to create slits through which i'll sandwich some rosemary sprigs - sprinkle with salt and grill (or roast) ... serve with goat cheese souffle :)

                                      balsamic soy marinated cabbage and radicchio

                                      parcooked and sliced butternut squash with sage leaves


                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Emme

                                        Grilled avocado - I've never tried that! Good idea Emme!

                                        1. re: JerryMe

                                          so many unique ways to do it...

                                          -simply brush with lime juice and olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt
                                          -marinate with honey and olive oil, cut in half, grill the skin side first then brush the flesh with more marinade and flip to sear flesh
                                          -rub with minced (roasted and mashed) garlic and sprinkle with cumin and sea salt

                                      2. While you're waiting for your coals to ash over, toss some eggplants on and grill them until they are soft and the skins are charred. Cool, peel, squeeze out the excess liquid, mash with tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and a pinch of cumin.

                                        1. Seeing the reference to lemon..... cut lemon in half, very lightly salt, and place cut-side-down on the grill. Gives an interesting bit of flavor to the lemon while "loosening" up the juice. Of course, other citrus's are candidates also.

                                          1. I had some grilled long beans (yard beans) recently, and they were unexpectedly good. I think they were marinated, sort of the way you'd marinate asparagus.

                                            I've grilled tempeh as well, with at least some success; last time, I tried using a dry rub, but I think maybe a wetter marinade would have worked better. You can cut it up, skewer it, and then serve with peanut sauce. I think you'll get a more interesting taste / texture than with tofu. Seitan might also be an option worth exploring. You could also try marinating pressed tofu (sort of like baked tofu, but it looks white on the outside), baked tofu, or frozen / rehydrated / squeezed out tofu (that might be a little too soft, though).

                                            A vegetable / grain based vegetable burger / patty that still holds together enough to grill might be another option - finding a good recipe would be the hard part. I imagine that freezing or refrigerating them in patty shape might help them hold together a little better, and letting them cook before trying to flip.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: will47

                                              The trick to grilling tempeh is to parboil it about 10min in a flavored broth (even some soy sauce and aromatics in water works) to get the flavor, moisture, and salt into the middle. Then, when you grill it, you can use oil or marinade to baste. Otherwise, it will be too dry and bland.

                                            2. I just made three days' worth of grilled veggies for lunch. The yummiest surprise was the slices of yams that I accidentally burned... DELICIOUS! I also threw on some bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant and corn on the cob (which I then removed from the cob so I could eat it politely at work!). Oh, and I grilled some pear slices that I'd tossed in EVOO, honey and cinnamon.

                                              1. Although I love meat, my family and I both love our summer grilled vegetables. Forget skewers. We slice yellow squash, zuchinni, tomatoes, onions,peppers and marinate in a little Italian dressing. I have a grill topper frying pan with lots of holes in it, so I put the pan directly onto the grill. The vegetables get a little char, and you can cook to desired doneness. It is impossible to mess up.
                                                You can add others like asparagus or mushrooms. I got my pan from Brookstone and not sure it they sell them anymore, but www.grillpro.com has some grill top type cookers which are similar. These are a nice complement to any meal, or can be one itself, particularly if served over some rice dish.

                                                1. Thanks, everyone!! I love these ideas!

                                                  1. LOVE this post!!!! Grill party coming up- mostly but not all vegetarian and this is just brilliant! Thank you.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: rcallner

                                                      As I have posted on other boards, one of my favorites is using a grill basket and cut up red/green/yellow/orange bell peppers into about 1" pieces, slice some zucchini and summer squash rounds, add onion wedges and mushrooms (depending on size - I like fresh buttons) and toss with some EVOO and your choice of favorite seasonings then grill. When almost done, add chunked pineapple and either cherry or grape tomato's. Grill till tomato's are soft but not mushy. Perfect with any dish. Very, very colorful and great taste. And like steakman55 said, asparagus is perfect too (I love it but DH hates it). You can put almost anything in it. Very simple.

                                                      1. re: boyzoma

                                                        We do this all the time all summer long, thanks to my Mom for the grill basket. Love the pineapple idea in later, BZ, that sound good, we'll have to try it next time.

                                                        And yes, does a great job on those thick asparagus spears, so tender & good!!

                                                    2. shish ka bobs with a teriyaki sauce. Make all the same veggies on the kabobs and combine them later. Zucchini takes far less time than sweet potato. Sweet potato would be very good. Don't forget pineapple either.

                                                      1. Great, great post -- lots of lovely new ideas here. A few of my favorites include foil-wrapping chard or other greens with just a bit of oil and tossing them on the hot grill. They wilt nicely and get a good smoky flavor, but not too heavy. I also love outdoor-grilled cheese on a crusty bread spread with butter or oil. It's everything a grilled cheese ought to be and then some. But my current favorite is to grill (or smoke) apple slices, then chop them into bite-sized pieces and toss them into a blue-cheese and greens salad with almonds or pecans. An outdoor fire elevates everything!

                                                        1. This summer, I've gotten hooked on grilling pizza, and they're mostly veggie. Now that I've gotten the hang of using the TJ's dough and splitting it into quarters, then rolling out 4 pizzas instead of one large one.

                                                          I mainly roast down some romas in the oven ahead of time and use those for the sauce. Some sliced fresh mozzarella, the ones that are balls in water, works well with some grated parm or asiago or a mix. Fresh torn basil leaves. Some I put roasted fennel on, other had balsamic red onions. All were very tasty.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Phurstluv

                                                            Phurst - why turn on the oven? Use your grill basket for the romas as well. Works great.

                                                            1. re: boyzoma

                                                              I know, I do throw them in when I'm grilling the veggies all together. But for pizza, I usually do the tomatoes a day or two ahead. And I have a weber charcoal, so it's a big deal usually, compared to a gas grill. I wouldn't start a fire just to do tomatoes.

                                                              1. re: Phurstluv

                                                                Good point. We have gas, so I didn't even think of that. It would be a pain. Of course, you could pick up one of those "mini" propane ones like we have that we take to the beach. Oh and we set a record here for this "day in history". Had 97 on the back deck a little while ago. Record was 93.

                                                          2. Recently I grilled polenta slices from one of those ready-made polenta tubes, and topped them with a saute of garlic, shallots, sliced mushrooms, and asparagus, sprinkled with thyme. Very nice.

                                                            1 Reply