You’re not alone if you live for the deep, complex flavors of beef, pork, or chicken that’s been slowly marinated, seared, or kissed by the flames of the grill.
And guess what? Even if you’re trying to get more vegetables in your diet (really, who isn’t?) you can still enjoy those same techniques and flavors with plant-based entrees and sides.
Despite what you might have encountered at bad hotel buffets and school cafeterias, veggies don’t need to be mushy and bland. In fact, some of the most delicious ways to prepare meat — marinating, searing, and grilling — are also some of the tastiest ways to prepare your favorite veggies, too. Don’t put your barbecue in storage just yet. Instead, add these vegetables alongside, or in place of, those cuts of meat.
Mushrooms are basically meat in disguise. The fungi share the savory, earthy flavors and hearty texture of animal protein. All varieties of mushrooms can be prepared almost exactly as meat, and for this reason are frequently used by chefs as stand-ins in meatless versions of Beef Wellington, Stroganoff, burgers, and much more. You can use almost any mushroom variety, but portobello, baby portobello and cremini have the most meat-like texture and flavor.
Bun-sized portobello mushrooms work as a direct substitute for burger patties or chicken breasts. Brush them with olive oil or ghee (clarified butter), then place them right on the grill.
Or, cut mushrooms into bite-sized chunks as you would with pieces of beef, slide them onto a skewer along with bell peppers, onions and tomatoes, and toss them on the grill. You could also marinate them in your favorite sauce as you do with proteins.
This rotund purple veggie is like a great actor waiting for the role of lifetime, and you’re just the director to give it to him.
After slicing the eggplant to the desired thickness, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with spices, and set straight on the grill. If steak gets you out of bed in the morning, you’ll be surprised by just how much you love this “steak” as it takes on the starring role at dinner. Eggplant’s hearty texture and the meat-like crispiness of its grilled edges may just win you over.
This cruciferous vegetable finally took over kale’s spot as the beloved foodie veggie this year and for good reason. It’s extremely versatile. Crisp it up by broiling or roasting in the oven; pulse it in the food processor to create “rice;” or although the texture isn’t an exact match, swap it directly for chicken — these genius Buffalo Cauliflower Bites will make you a believer.