'Grilling Vegan Style' Rescues Vegans From a Summer of Crudités and Sides

These Italian herb burgers are broiled to keep them from falling apart before grilling.

Thanks to Grilling Vegan Style (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2012), there’s no reason vegans should resign themselves to the marginalized group at summer barbecues — those who have to make do with crudités and side dishes. Author John Schlimm, who we spoke with for the “Vegan Myths” story in the current issue of VIVmag, provides 125 recipes that would be welcome at any barbecue, from simple grilled shishito peppers and corn on the cob to Southwestern burgers and vanilla pound cake.

Schlimm provides a primer on grills, as well as a guide to grilling with tofu, tempeh and seitan products and an entire chapter devoted to marinades. “Backyard Bites” include tasty snacks such as edamame embers, fiery baby artichokes and drive-in popcorn with Spanish seasoning. You’ll also find recipes for cool summer salads (green bean and arugula, tattooed watermelon salad), side dishes (onion rings with garlicky croutons, crispy green beans with Cajun sauce) and tapas (flame-glazed eggplant with hoisin sauce and grilled corn on the cob with lime and pepper sauce).

Heartier fare includes sliders, garbanzo and herb burgers, maple-soy tempeh over rice, grilled picnic pizza and the TLT (tofu, lettuce, tomato). For dessert, Schlimm serves up grilled fruits — cantaloupe, pineapple and peaches — as well as treats like chocolate-dipped coconut islands. The author of The Tipsy Vegan (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2011) also includes a drinks chapter, with recipes for cocktails, such as Mojito Mojo and “BLEEP! on the Beach,” as well as nonalcoholic summertime sips — lemonade, peach iced tea and watermelon giggles with strawberry and lemon.

Below is a simple recipe for Italian herb burgers. Before preparing, however, keep in mind that four hours of refrigeration are required. Schlimm combats the tendency of veggie burgers to fall apart by broiling them first. Since vegan focaccia bread isn’t always available at the corner store, Schlimm says, “Grill up some vegan whole-wheat pita bread instead and proceed.”

Italian Herb Burgers on Focaccia
Serves 4
1 15-ounce can kidney beans
1–2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, as needed
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup vegan egg substitute
½ cup roughly chopped white mushrooms
½ cup roughly chopped red onion
1 carrot, shredded
½ cup roughly chopped red bell pepper
4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped roughly
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
¼ cup well-chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Vegan focaccia bread, for serving (or vegan whole-wheat pita)

1. In a food processor, combine all the ingredients, except the focaccia. Pulse until just coarsely chopped, adding more oatmeal as needed (start with 1 cup), until the mixture holds together when you make a patty.

2. Chill the mixture for an hour. Shape into patties about ½ inch thick and about 4 inches in diameter. Chill the patties on a plastic-wrap-covered platter for at least 3 hours.

3. Heat a broiler and a grill to medium-high. Broil the patties about 5 inches from the heat source for 4–6 minutes, or until lightly browned (watch them closely, as times may vary), checking to make sure the ingredients are holding together well. Broiling first will help to prevent them from falling apart on the grill. Using a grilling screen if desired, transfer the patties to the heated grill and grill for 2–3 minutes, turning once.

4. Serve at once, with the focaccia bread.

NUTRITION SCORE (per serving)
436 calories
Fat 5 g
 (0.8 g saturated)
Carbs 90 g
Protein 20 g
Fiber 14 g
Calcium 81 mg
Iron 6 mg
Sodium 714 mg

Do you have a favorite veggie burger?

Photo credit: Amy Beadle Roth