Things have been heating up around here.
With temperatures soaring, cicadas (aliens!) humming, and my lawn o’ weeds growing to epic heights, the great outdoors are not exactly calling my name. However, with a big patio begging to host a party, the aroma of the neighbors’ grilled food wafting over to greet me when I climb out of my car at the end of a long day, and a few strands of twinkly lights romantically draped around our backyard, it is tempting to step outside and enjoy early summer. So when the publishers of Grills Gone Vegan by Tamisin Noyes asked me to review their vegan grilling cookbook, I decided to give it a shot. After all, we own two grills and rarely use them since we do not eat meat. Veggie burgers taste great on the grill, but firing it up just for a couple of No Bull burger patties seems silly. When Grills Gone Vegan arrived in the mail, I was excited to see a book full of recipes for foods we could actually eat, all prepared on a grill. I wanted to try everything! The options were so overwhelming that I had to invite a few friends over to help me taste test.
Fast forward to last weekend, when I stood with a counter full of farmers’ market produce and local goodies from Ellwood Thompson’s, a cookbook with several bookmarked pages, and a rickety old laptop blasting dance music into my kitchen. When afternoon turned to evening, I was joined by Shannon of Thirsty Richmond and her husband Evan, and Adrienne of hippie itch and her husband Al. They all had more experience with vegan cooking and eating than I did, so I figured they would make great judges for the variety of dishes we prepared. They are also just super fun up-for-anything people, who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and skewer some seitan for the cause.
The book is full of creative recipes with manageable ingredient lists, and it includes a lot of fancy-looking dishes that, with my limited grilling experience, I never would have dreamed of preparing on a grill. Most recipes include sets of instructions for indoor non-grill preparation, indoor grill preparation, and an outdoor grill preparation, so you have a lot of options. It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure approach to getting a delicious dish to the table. I was also really pleased to find dishes that incorporated grilling in the ingredients, like Charred Leek Spread, in which you take grilled leeks and process them with raw ingredients to make a creamy vegan spread for sliced baguettes.
We chowed down on this dip while assembling skewers for the next dish and it was definitely a hit. The dill flavor is very light and springy, and leftover spread was a great dip for baby carrots and celery. It also added a unique flavor t0 veggie sandwiches the next day.
I substituted some of my weekly farmers’ market finds for the vegetables called for in the Tunisian Seitan Skewers with Lemon Kissed Couscous. I used chicken-style seitan for this recipe, which incorporated a lemon and spice flavored marinade for a bright and citrusy grilled dish. The kohlrabi, which I substituted for mushrooms in the skewers, was pretty difficult to spear and it took longer to cook than the other vegetables. I will definitely try grilling kohlrabi again, but maybe in slices placed directly on the grill rather than on kebabs. Otherwise the vegetables and seitan were delicious, and the lemon kissed pearl couscous was tasty with this dish as well as the next entrée.
The second entrée we prepared was Savory Grilled Tofu with Mushroom Sauce. The tofu is marinated first, and the marinade is really tasty so that the leftover tofu is great even without the mushroom sauce. Then the tofu is grilled and topped with a delicious herb-packed mushroom sauce. The couscous was supposed to go with the Tunisian skewers but it worked well for sopping up mushroom sauce in this dish. I really liked the idea of preparing a sauce on the stovetop while grilling the tofu outside. The result is an impressive dish that appears to be and elaborate showstopper, but is actually very easy to prepare.
Finally, we grilled some nectarines that had been lightly brushed with agave nectar, and served the warm, caramelized fruit with Almond Dream vegan ice cream and fresh mint. I know some of you will disagree with me on this, but after trying it firsthand, I do believe that the almond ice cream was a better accompaniment for this dish than dairy ice cream would have been.
If you are a vegetarian or vegan who wants to transform your grill from a piece of lawn furniture to a functional cooking element, or if you are an avid griller looking for some new recipes to add to your meat-laden collection, I highly recommend this book. It is easy to read, the instructions are simple to follow, and the recipes are very adaptable for any kind of cooking setup you may have. There are enough creative ideas in Grills Gone Vegan to keep you busy trying new things all summer. The book is available on Amazon or by mail order from the publisher.
I did receive a free copy of Grills Gone Vegan for testing the recipes. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review and all opinions are my own.