Catering Vegetarians at a Grill Party

When you organise a grill or tailgate party, the first recipes that you will think about are based on meat, fish and poultry. But what is some of your friends are vegetarians? Or maybe your son's girlfriend is a veggie? So you will need to sort something out for them too. Some people who call themselves vegetarians will eat fish; however you cannot rely on that. But even if you have not cooked veggie before, it is not too difficult.

The most obvious things to do are ready made veggie burgers and veggie dogs - these are mock meats and are generally ideal for grilling. When buying these, check the cooking instructions though as some (veggie dogs in particular) are not suited to grilling and will just turn into a soggy mess! Another great alternative is to do vegetable skewers but add cubes of a non-melting cheese such as Halloumi, a Greek cheese. Another alternative for a meat substitute is tofu, but that is generally very bland so will need marinating. It takes a lot longer to get the marinade flavour into the tofu so you should put it to marinade in the refrigerator about 24 hours in advance of the grill party. Tofu is soya bean curd which comes as a soft solid block. This needs cubing (one inch cubes) before marinating and cooking.

But there are some differences in cooking these when compared with real meats. The level of fats and juices is generally much lower in commercial vegetarian products, great for the waistline but it means that they are more likely to weld themselves to the grill! So to combat that, you will need to make sure the grill is cleaned well and either wipe the grill surface with a paper towel soaked in olive (or any other cooking) oil or use a non-stick spray.

Generally speaking, vegetarians would prefer to eat food that has not been in contact with meat or fish products so it is best to reserve an area of the grill for their food. However, many are practically minded enough to realise that total segregation is not possible but they do appreciate it if you make an effort. That goes for the utensils too, so it will make the grilling process a little more complex but don't let that detract from your party. If your boss or anyone in his or her family is vegetarian, you could really impress them by having two grills, one for vegetarian food only. Oh yes, and remember to use vegetable stock instead of meat stock for any sauces that you will offer your guests.

So the first time or two that you grill for vegetarians will be a bit more of a strain, but practice makes perfect. Also, your meat eating guests may be curious and also enjoy trying an alternative food - thus your grilling party will be talked about for ages afterwards for all the right reasons.

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About The Author, Kev Woodward
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