To put it bluntly, you don’t need meat to grill. There are plenty of other outstanding ingredients worthy of the open flame and subsequent char marks, from burly vegetables to summery fruits. We’re about to be waist-deep in market season, which means all kinds of great produce finds at your local store or farm stand.
And there’s no better way to enjoy them than through the unique and wonderfully hedonistic power of cooking over fire. It is the best way to enjoy a good meal on a warm day and because we’re going meatless here, it’s all the healthier (and humane, and better on the environment). That’s not to say we don’t love a good steak, but sometimes you need to broaden your palate.
Here are the eleven best meatless grilling recipes, just in time for barbecue season. The first five are from a true expert in the field, Chef Reza Setayesh of BimBeriBon in North Carolina. He’s known for his inventive and incredibly healthy cuisine.
Here, cauliflower plays the role of steak and is given the South American treatment by way of a tasty chimichurri.
- 1 cauliflower, cut into steaks about 1-inch thick
- 1 oz olive oil
- 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
- 1 bunch parsley, chopped
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- .5 cup fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- .5 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- .5 tsp sea salt
- 1 lemon, juiced
Sun-Dried Tomato Marbling
- 2 cups sun-dried tomato, rehydrated in hot water for about 30 minutes
- 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp garlic
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- .5 cup bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Mix all of the chimichurri ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- Squeeze out any excess water from the rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes, place them, along with the rest of the marbling ingredients, in a food processor and pulse to make into a smooth paste, and set aside.
- Mix the rosemary and olive oil in a small bowl.
- Brush the cauliflower steaks with the rosemary olive oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Grill for about 5 minutes on each side or until nicely grill-marked.
- Place about 2-3 tbsp of sun-dried tomato marbling on the steak and press into the cavities right before serving.
- Serve steak while still hot with a portion of chimichurri sauce and your favorite thick-cut potato or sweet potato fries.
Read more: Best Meat Alternatives
The summer salad of all summer salads, fattoush could not be more refreshing.
- 1 head medium Napa cabbage
- 1 small red onion, sliced thin
- 3 vine ripe tomato, diced into large cubes
- 1 Persian cucumber, sliced
- 3 pita bread, cut into wedges
- 4-6 oz tofu feta or cow’s milk feta, diced or crumbled
- 6-8 radishes, sliced
- 2 tbsp zatar spice
- 1 tbsp sumac spice
- .25 cup chopped mint
- .25 cup chopped parsley
- ⅛ cup chopped dill
- 2 lemons
- 2 oz red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp whole grain mustard
- 1 tsp pink salt
- .5 tsp ground black pepper
- 3 oz extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp sumac spice
- 2 tsp zatar
- Preheat charcoal grill. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Cut cabbage in half lengthwise, brush lightly with olive oil, and proceed to grill until deeply charred. Immediately place in the fridge to avoid cooking the cabbage any further.
- Cut pita into small wedges and toss with 2 tbsp olive oil and salt.
- Place on a cookie sheet pan and place in the oven for about 7-10 minutes, or until crisp and toasted. Cool on a rack on the counter.
- Prepare salad ingredients and place all in a large bowl, including the grilled cabbage and toasted pita wedges.
- Place all dressing ingredients in a glass jar and shake vigorously prior to dressing the salad.
- Add the amount of desired dressing to the salad and toss. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Falling somewhere between an involved salsa and a straightforward salad, this recipe is a great appetizer while hosting or as just a quick mid-afternoon snack.
- 4 ears of corn
- 48 oz (about 6 cups) watermelon, diced small
- .5 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 limes, juiced
- 1 cup red onion, minced
- 1 large jalapeño, minced
- 1 tbsp cumin, toasted & ground
- .5 tbsp, coriander seeds, toasted & ground
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar (optional)
- Shuck the corn and place on the grill, allowing each side to be blistered with grill marks before rotating until all areas are uniformly grilled with dark brown spots.
- Using a sharp chef’s or kitchen knife cut the kernels off the cob.
- Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl, taste, and adjust seasoning.
- Add a splash of cider vinegar if you like your salsa to have a punch.
Read more: Best Vegan Food Products
The versatility of watermelon is on full display through this dish, which benefits from the brine of olives and the coolness of fresh mint.
- 1 large red onion
- 48 oz (about 6 cups) diced watermelon
- 1 large green pepper, medium dice
- 1 English cucumber, large dice
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
- .5 cup pitted kalamata olives
- .5 cup cider vinegar
- 4 tbsp olive oil (optional)
- 2 tsp salt
- .5 cup feta (we prefer plant-based feta)
- 2 grilled pita bread (optional)
- Peel, slice, and grill the onion until nicely charred and softened, then chill in the fridge.
- Prepare pepper, cucumber, mint, and olives and place in a bowl with the grilled onion.
- Add vinegar and the optional olive oil.
- Toss and adjust seasoning.
- Top with feta cheese of choice (again, we love a plant-based feta) and an optional side of grilled pita bread.
If you like hummus, you’ll love this eggplant dip. The char gives it a smoky quality and it’s great not just on various hard vegetables but rice cakes, pita bread, and sandwiches, too.
- 3 large eggplants
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- .25 cup minced garlic
- .25 cup chopped fresh mint
- .25 cup apple cider vinegar
- .25 cup tahini
- 1 tbsp salt
- .5 tbsp ground toasted cumin
- .5 cup chopped tomato
- Preheat your grill or if you don’t have a grill, you can preheat your oven to 475 degrees F, placing a cast-iron skillet in the oven while it heats.
- Using a small pairing knife, cut a few slits into each eggplant and place on the hottest part of a grill.
- Char the skin very hard and rotate so all the skin is nicely burnt and the interior of the eggplant feels soft when your press on it with your finger, roughly 5-7 minutes per side.
- Remove the charred eggplants and allow them to cool for a few minutes before scooping out all of the soft interior using a small spoon and discarding the burnt skin.
- In a small sauté pan, heat the olive oil and toast the garlic and mint until the garlic is golden brown, about 1 minute.
- Break up the eggplant with a spoon, add the toasted garlic and mint and all other ingredients and mix well.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed, and serve with cut vegetables and toasted pita bread.
When’s the last time you made a real grilled cheese on your grill? Do it, the first bite will have you never returning to your stovetop.
- 2 Rougette BonFire Grilling Cheese Mild & Creamy
- 4 slices pancetta
- 2 tbsp canned cranberry sauce
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 mini pretzel buns, split
- .25 cup fresh arugula for garnish
- Preheat the grill to medium heat.
- Remove Grilling Cheeses from the package and pierce with a fork on both sides according to package instructions. Place cheese on a hot grill, along with pancetta. Grill over medium-high heat for 4 minutes, rotating cheeses once to create grilling cross marks.
- Use a spatula to carefully flip cheeses and pancetta. Grill for 4 minutes more or until the cheeses are lightly browned and pancetta is crisp.
- Place spit pretzel buns on grill cut side down the last 2 minutes of cooking, or until buns are toasted.
- Remove buns, pancetta, and cheeses from the grill. Assemble burgers by spreading a layer of cranberry sauce on both bottom buns and mustard on both bun tops. Top each bun bottom with a Grilling Cheese, two slices of pancetta, half the arugula, and top bun. Serve immediately.
Grilled polenta is an unsung specialty that does great with green veggies like spinach and kale.
- Lightly oil a 9-inch round glass baking dish. In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and slowly whisk in the polenta. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the polenta is thick, about 5 minutes. Pour the hot polenta into the baking dish and cover the surface directly with plastic wrap. Let stand until firm, about 25 minutes.
In a large, deep skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until golden brown, about 30 seconds.
- Increase the heat to moderately high and add the spinach, stirring to wilt it. Season with salt and pepper. Keep the spinach warm.
- Light a grill and oil the grates. Cut the polenta into 8 wedges and grill over moderately high heat until crisp and lightly charred, 5 minutes per side. Place 2 wedges on each plate; top each with 2 robiola slices. Spoon the warm spinach on top and serve.
How do you make a caprese salad even more summery? You grill it, of course.
- 2 red peppers
- 4 balls of good quality mozzarella cheese
- 1.5 cups ripe cherry tomatoes
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch of fresh basil
- Place the peppers directly onto a naked gas flame or under a very hot grill and let them blacken and blister.
- Turn now and then with a pair of metal kitchen tongs. When blackened all over, pop them into a bowl and cover with clingfilm.
- Leave the peppers to steam for about 10 minutes, then remove the clingfilm and leave them to cool.
- When they are cool enough to handle, rub off the blackened skin and brush away the seeds from the inside.
- Tear the mozzarella balls into chunks and divide between 4 plates. Tear the peppers into strips and divide over the plates of mozzarella. Halve the tomatoes and scatter over the top.
- Season well with sea salt and black pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Pick and tear up the basil leaves and sprinkle them over the salad before serving.
A classic within the canon of grilled vegetables, portobello served this way just tastes better. The flavors concentrate and the oil compensates for the bit of moisture lost during cooking.
- Several hours before cooking, place Portobello mushrooms in a large sealable plastic bag. Pour in some olive oil, enough to coat all mushrooms, plus some excess. Sprinkle a little salt and some cracked pepper into the bag. Add about a tablespoon of minced garlic. Seal bag and shake. Refrigerate for a few hours.
- Preheat grill to high, remove the mushrooms from the bags and place on grill for 5-to-7 minutes per side or longer; you really can’t overcook them. Flip them every few minutes or so.
This dish offers a fireworks display of flavors for your palate, ranging from sweet and spicy to zesty and umami.
- Set the tofu on a cutting board and top with a cookie sheet and 2 or 3 heavy cans. Let stand for 1 hour, or until the tofu is very firm and the liquid has been pressed out. Pat the tofu dry. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the jalapeño jelly with the ketchup, soy sauce, sesame oil, and 1 tablespoon of lime juice.
- In a large bowl, mix the sugar with the garlic and minced jalapeño.
- Using the side of a spoon, mash the mixture into a paste. Add the fish sauce and the remaining 1 tablespoon of lime juice. Stir in the jicama, carrots, cilantro, and mint.
- Light a grill. Brush the tofu and the cut sides of the rolls with the vegetable oil. Lightly grill the rolls, about 2 minutes.
- Grill the tofu over a hot fire until lightly charred, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Brush on the jalapeño jelly glaze and grill, turning and brushing until nicely glazed, 2 to 3 minutes longer.
- Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on both halves of each roll. Mound the jicama slaw on the rolls and top with the tofu steaks.
- Close the sandwiches, cut in half, and serve.
A grilled dessert item? Naturally. This one takes advantage of the ultra-grill-ability of pineapple, which looks and tastes all the better wearing a few grill marks.
- 1 small tub crème fraîche
- 1 vanilla pod, scored lengthways and seeds scraped out
- 1 pineapple
- icing sugar, for dusting
- 1 handful fresh mint, leaves picked and finely sliced
- Preheat your barbecue. Beat the crème fraîche with the seeds from the vanilla pod and put to one side.
- Cut the ends off the pineapple. Sit it on a board and cut off the skin in wide strips from top to bottom, making sure you cut out any woody eyes. Thinly slice the pineapple, and dust the slices with icing sugar.
- Make sure the bars of the barbecue are clean – especially if you’ve been cooking fish or meat beforehand–and drop the slices of pineapple on to it. Grill for about 30 seconds on each side then lift off with the tongs and transfer to a serving plate.
- Serve scattered with mint and a generous dollop of vanilla-flavored crème fraîche.
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