Vegetarian barbecue food sounds like an oxymoron. But if you’ve ever stir-fried summer veges on the barbecue, it won’t seem so odd. Kebabs of grilled courgette, peppers, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms have been around for ages, and have great eye-appeal, as well as being delicious.
Haloumi cheese is wonderful, cooked on a hot grill. Soft, squeaky, meltingly delicious, it’s an easy meal when sliced, grilled and added to the top of a salad.
But what about the Kiwi tradition of meat on the grill? Even the most hardened meat-lover can tire of the sausage and steak routine. There are some wonderful vegetarian patties that will perk up jaded taste buds, and some of them are based around flavour combinations that never go out of style.
Leek and cheese rissoles are a classic combo – everyone loves them. Shape them into rissoles or sausages, or coat them in egg and panko crumbs for a tasty croquet. They cook beautifully on a barbecue, and are a taste sensation.
Celery cheese rissoles are another winner. These taste way better than they sound, and people love them. Both these recipes use the richness of cheese for texture and succulence.
If you are feeding a dairy-free guest or family member, a rissole based around black beans is an excellent protein alternative. The recipe below can use black beans or kidney beans, and looks a lot like regular mince in colour. Two good tablespoons of mixed herbs can replace the pesto, or add some Mexican zing with corn kernels, peppers and chilli paste or powder.
All of the dishes below can be made as mini-versions or balls, and served as a nibble or snack.
The easiest dish of all has to be eggplant. Slice your eggplant into rounds, about 1cm thick. Dip in egg (or soymilk), then in breadcrumbs liberally laced with garlic salt and herbs. If you don’t like breadcrumbs or are gluten free, use almond meal, flaxseed, polenta or any combination – they all work well as a coating.
Coat the hotplate with generous amounts of olive oil and cook the eggplant rounds till tender, topping up the oil as needed. It takes 3-4 minutes per side – flip halfway to ensure even cooking. Serve with a chunky tomato pasta-style sauce or salsa.
Leek, cheddar and sage rissoles
3 ½ slices of wholemeal bread
1 tsp dried sage
175gms grated tasty cheese
1 Tbsp wholegrain mustard
2 Tbsp chopped leeks
Salt and pepper
Put all ingredients in the food processor and blitz till a well mixed, sticky, chunky texture.
Shape large tablespoonfuls into balls, flatten into patties and cook on the barbecue in a couple of slugs of your favourite light oil, for just a couple of minutes each side.
If it’s raining, you can bake them in the oven at 180◦C on a greased tray for 20 minutes, or until brown. (Alternatively, shallow fry in a moderate pan.)
To make this gluten free, swap the bread for cooked brown rice or gluten-free breadcrumbs.
Celery cheese patties (makes 10 )
125 gms rice crumbs (or bread crumbs)
½ onion diced finely
3 small celery stalks
2 Tbsp black sesame seeds
100gms tasty cheese
1 Tbsp wholegrain mustard
Put all ingredients into a large bowl and mix well. Alternatively, give it a few whirls in the food processor.
Shape into 10 patties (2Tbsp each approx.)
Cook on a hot grill in a couple of tablespoons of oil, or bake at 180◦C for 15 minutes.
Chickpea and black bean rissoles
1 can chickpeas
1 can black beans
1 c breadcrumbs + 3/4c extra
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2-3 Tbsp pesto
1 egg *
1Tbsp soy sauce
½ c flour
1 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
Preheat oven to 180◦C and spray a baking tray with oil.
In a frypan on medium heat, cook onion and garlic till soft.
Put all ingredients in a food processor and whizz till smooth.
Take large spoonfuls, dip in extra breadcrumbs and flatten slightly.
Bake 20 minutes or so, until they feel cooked and are slightly browned and crunchy on the outside.
* Egg can be omitted and replaced with 2 Tbsp of the briny water from the chickpea can. (This is called aquafava by some cooks, which translates to ‘bean water’.)