Barbecues might be an institution, and it might be sacrilegious to say so, but let’s be honest, they can get a bit samey.
There really is only so many charred burgers and scorched sausages you can eat in any given summer, especially if you’re also trying to reduce your meat consumption – be it for health or environmental reasons.
So what do you do if the charcoal is burning away, but you’d rather grill something other than meat over it? Try these plant-based swaps that don’t rely on artificial meat alternatives…
1. Swap burgers for portobello mushrooms
A huge, juicy portobello mushroom topped with lots of freshly ground black pepper and a slab of molten cheddar has all the umami of a beef burger, but none of the heaviness, and a far smaller carbon footprint. Load up with all your usual burger toppings (we’d add chilli sauce too), inside a brioche bun, and it’ll likely turn out more satisfying than a veggie bean burger from the freezer section.
2. Swap sausages for root veg and halloumi
Arguably the best thing about a hotdog is the opportunity for contrast – the soft white bun, crunchy onions, silky sauce, while the sausage is the charred bulk that pulls it all together. Sure, a veggie sausage would do the job, but why not do something a bit different? Load up skewers with chunks of seasoned veg or cheese that have heft – like sweet potato, courgette, carrot, pepper, or halloumi – and get them golden and caramelised on the barbie. Tucked into that white bun and topped with onions, you’ll not miss the meat.
3. Swap lamb kebabs for aubergine
Ground lamb kebabs laced with mint are undoubtedly delicious, but aubergine marries just as well with mint, and takes on a rich smokiness on the barbecue that will fill that lamb gap. Dress with a tahini dip and you’re good to go.
4. Swap chicken wings for cauliflower ‘wings’
Spicy, gnarly chicken wings are all very well, but cauliflower can handle just as much heat. Batter first and finish off on the bbq, or char over hot coals first and then dredge through buffalo sauce at the table.
5. Swap slow-cooked pork for jackfruit
For the full American bbq experience, you need vats of coleslaw, tonnes of grilled corn on the cob (best of all the bbq foods in our opinion), and something slow cooked, smoky and shreddable. So if pork is off the menu, opt for jackfruit instead, which you can easily get hold of in tins from most major supermarkets. Cook it up with barbecue sauce and seasoning and tuck in.