Meatless Monday – Holiday, Celebrate!

It is a holiday Monday across most of Canada and for many that means food by barbecue.
The first Monday in August, often called Civic Day, falls in the middle of summer when culinary thoughts turn to eating and cooking al fresco. This week’s Meatless Monday features tips for making easy-to-prepare vegetarian/vegan friendly food welcome at any holiday picnic table.

Veggie Burger Basics
There are numerous veggie burger recipes online and in print. The basics, however, remain pretty much the same: a base, seasonings, a little razzamataz and some ‘glue’ to hold it all together.

Base:
This is the ‘meat’ if you will of a veggie burger. It is often some form of soy (i.e. tofu, tempeh or TVP*), beans, nuts/seeds, Portobello mushroom or vegetables often with some form of grain (e.g. rice or quinoa). The base helps determine the flavour profile and determine the appropriate ‘glue’ required.

Seasonings:
These are your spices, herbs and the quintessential dynamic duo that makes anything savoury taste better i.e. onion and garlic. You can’t go wrong with some salt, pepper and thyme. Cumin pairs well with many items particularly carrot, spinach and chickpeas.

Glue:
This is what holds the ingredients together so they don’t fall apart on the barbecue. Popular choices are breadcrumbs, eggs and flax-seed mixed with water (to mimic eggs).

Razzamataz:
This is the extra somethin’somethin‘ that elevates your veggie burger to taste nirvana. It can be nutritional yeast, marmite, coconut aminos (alternative to soy sauce), cheese (vegan or not), tomato paste or vinegar. Idea: Perhaps chopped sun-dried tomatoes languishing in balsamic vinegar and olive oil then mixed with some zucchini and basil with a white kidney bean base for some Mediterranean flair.

Of course, there are the buns and condiments/toppings to consider. Choose whole grain buns for extra-added fiber. Condiments and toppings can include but are not limited to: organic ketchup, good quality mustard, relish (perhaps a zucchini relish or kiwifruit relish), mayo (vegetarian or vegan), sliced vegetables (e.g. tomato, onion, avocado, beet), cheese, etc. Anything to add…?

My Veggie Burger cookbook of choice: Veggie Burgers Every Which Way.

Salads
You can’t go wrong with fresh salads. Summertime is a perfect time to get your serving of raw vegetables. Ideas: watermelon and feta, tabbouleh, sweet peppers and corn.

Vegetables
If they’re not in a salad, grill ’em. Good vegetables to grill are sweet pepper, zucchini, mushroom and asparagus.

Dessert
This is easy. Fresh fruit in summer is both abundant and delicious: nothing extra required. If you really want to jazz it up:

  • Grill some peaches
  • Serve fresh fruit with ice cream with a drizzle of melted dark chocolate
  • Fill raspberries with dark, milk or white chocolate chips
  • Freeze grapes and eat them or use as ice cubes
  • Scoop out watermelon or cantaloupe and fill with fresh fruit. Serve with a mix of plain yogurt (vegetarian or vegan), some vanilla and maple syrup for a sweet fruit dip.

Happy Meatless Barbecuing this Heritage/Civic/Natal/Regatta/Simcoe/Colonel By Day/Saskatchewan/British Colombia Day or whatever you call it in your neck of the woods.

*TVP = texturized vegetable protein

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