Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Meatless Monday: Enduring BBQ Season

Meatless Monday is actually Meatless Tuesday this week due to the holiday.  I have yet to unpack my suitcase, catch up on e-mails and haven't even delved into the July issue of Runner's World which proves I am running behind.

Summer is officially here!  This means pool parties, beach outings, outdoor festivals and of course barbecues. BBQ typically refers to grilled, smoky meats and clearly that is a problem for the vegetarian individual. Unfortunately, that smell everyone oohs and ahhs about is animal flesh roasting on the grill for human consumption.  I know it sounds disgusting, but lets face it, it is disgusting.   So, how do we look past that and enjoy ourselves?

My method, which proved 100% effective this fourth of July weekend, is to come prepared! Go shopping beforehand and buy something for the meal as well as something you can make for a side-dish that way you can graze along with everybody else.

I like to make something fitting for a BBQ.  This helps me to avoid interrogation and questioning about why I am not eating a big beefy burger or hot-dog.  Bringing tofu or tempeh can provide a great opportunity to expose friends and family to delicious vegetarian fare, but in my case, I receive more disdain from others than genuine curiosity.  I don't always feel like educating and defending my position.  You may be lucky enough to receive praise for your meatless masterpiece, but unfortunately in my family it's more like mockery.  It's okay, I still love them!

I included a recipe for grilled Portobello mushroom burgers that blend right in with the beef patties and are better for the environment, the animals and YOU!  Enjoy.

Grilled Portobello Garlic & Avocado Burger Recipe

makes 4 sandwiches

4 large portobello mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
Minced garlic (to taste)
1-2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning
salt & pepper
4 kaiser rolls or burger buns
1-2 avocados
4 slices tomato of your choice
1 cup salad leaves or lettuce
a few handfuls of sprouts
cheese, soy or regular (if you prefer)

Heat an outdoor grill to 400f.

Wipe the mushrooms clean. Using a spoon, scrape off the gills from the mushrooms. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, italian seasoning, salt and pepper and minced garlic. Brush the olive oil and vinegar mixture all over the mushrooms.

Place the mushroom caps on the grill and grill about 2-3 minutes on one side. Flip the mushroom caps, and grill another 2-3 minutes. If you like cheese, place cheese slices on portobello caps (gill side) after you have flipped them. Remove grilled mushrooms to a plate, and cover to keep warm. If you are not using an outdoor grill, broil the mushrooms in the oven; about 3-4 minutes per side.

Cut the bread roll in half.  Place "burger" on bun with sliced avocado on top. Top with lettuce or salad greens, tomato, sprouts and condiment of your choice. Place the other bread slice on top. Secure sandwich with a toothpick. Serve with a side of soup or salad.

Some other foods that are simple and great for barbecues:

  • Cold bean and corn salad – w/ diced onion and peppers
  • Homemade guacamole and chips
  • Black bean dip
  • Grilled vegetable skewers
  • Homemade hummus of any kind with chopped veggies and warm pita bread
  • Veggie burgers, hot-dogs & Chik'n (favorite brands are Morning Star and Quorn)

Startling Stat:

500,000 animals are killed for meat per hour in the U.S.

photo courtesy of Natural Selection