Vegan grilling is about so much more than vegetables. Vegan chef Laura Theodore shares her tips and tricks on how to go gourmet on the grill with tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers and more.
Grilling Tips: When grilling tofu, baked tofu is my preferred choice. The firm, chewy texture of flavorful, marinated and pre-baked tofu makes for a great meat substitute for kebabs and cutlets.
Favorite Sauce: That’s easy! My “Smoky and Sweet Sauce” makes a delicious marinade for pre-baked or plain, extra-firm tofu. Combine 6 tablespoons maple syrup, 4 tablespoons tamari, 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and 1 teaspoon smoked paprika. Add some garlic powder and/or a dash of cayenne pepper for a bit of heat, if desired.
Best Uses: The best way to serve grilled tofu is cubed and threaded onto soaked bamboo skewers along with chopped sweet peppers, small whole mushrooms, thick-sliced onions, whole grape tomatoes and sliced zucchini squash—all slathered with a spicy BBQ sauce or Smoky and Sweet Sauce.
Grilling Tips: When grilling tempeh, I like to steam it first for 10 minutes, then marinate in a flavorful sauce (in the refrigerator) for 1 to 3 hours before proceeding with your recipe.
Favorite Sauce: My “Quick Teriyaki-Style Sauce” makes an easy marinade for tempeh. Simply mix together tamari or soy sauce with maple syrup in a 1:1 ratio. Add favorite herbs or spices, if desired. Delicious!
Best Uses: Tempeh “Triangle” Cutlets are tasty grilled or baked. Cut each 8-ounce slab of store-bought tempeh into 8 equal-sized triangles. Steam 10 minutes, marinate, let stand in refrigerator for 1 to 3 hours, and grill.
Grilling Tips: Store-bought vegan veggie sausage is very convenient for summer grilling in place of kielbasa or hot dogs.
Favorite Sauce: An “Apricot Glaze” is great on veggie sausages. Measure 6 heaping tablespoons apricot preserves, 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and 1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper and stir to combine. You are ready to go!
Best Uses: My favorite way to serve grilled veggie sausage is to alternate it with cremini mushrooms on a skewer, brushed with a bit of Apricot Glaze (above) and grill to perfection.
Grilling Tips: Make sure to choose vegan burgers that are firm in texture. If they are “mushy” or soft, they will fall apart while grilling them.
Favorite Sauce: My “Easiest BBQ Sauce” from Vegan for Everyone is a great go-to for grilling veggie burgers. Put ½ cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1½ teaspoons chili powder and 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil in a small bowl, and whisk to combine.
Best Uses: Grilled veggie burgers are best served in the traditional manner! Pile them high with all of the classic fixin’s like sweet onion, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup and/or mustard, and serve nestled in a whole-grain bun.
Try Grilling Portobellos, Too
Portobello mushrooms are a vegan favorite for grilling. These “meaty” wonders hold up beautifully on the grill and make an excellent choice for serving vegans and omnivores alike. Slather each clean, de-stemmed mushroom with BBQ sauce or teriyaki sauce, then cook on the grill until golden. Once cooked, let rest 3 to 5 minutes, slice each mushroom on the bias and serve over quinoa, mashed spuds or rice. This dish substitutes beautifully for a steak-based summertime supper!
Host of the “Jazzy Vegetarian” cooking show on PBS, Laura Theodore is a vegan chef, award-winning cookbook author and nationally renowned jazz singer. Her latest book is Vegan for Everyone (2020, Scripe Publishing).