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Gourmet Grilling: Meat Free

Updated on June 13, 2015

Wonderful barbecues without the meat

Many years ago, my mum was planning a barbecue at the weekend.

Then she remembered that two of my sister's college friends were coming to stay. Vegetarians. 'Oh well, she said 'I suppose I'll have to buy some chicken'.

Not only does that show how little my mum (bless her) understood about what vegetarians eat but it also demonstrates that at one time, barbecues were simply hopeless for people who didn't eat meat.

You'll find lots of ideas for wonderful meat- (and fish-) free grilled food below.Although there will always be a place in some people's hearts that's reserved for steaks, burgers and hot dogs, grilled food can be delicious and healthy too. Part of the reason for this is that the manufacturers of kitchen goods and utensils have made our lives so much easier when it comes to cooking outdoors.

I've added my favourites below.

Food images copyright free from Wikimedia Commons.


For these, I grate raw potato and raw onion. Then put them in a dish towel and squeeze until as much liquid as possible is removed. Season (we like lots of black pepper) and add just a little flour so that the mixture holds together when formed into balls.

Use a plancha

Sur La Table Grill and Sear Plancha CC7209
Sur La Table Grill and Sear Plancha CC7209

I don't cook them directly on the grill,I use a plancha - which turns part of your grill into a griddle.

This one is excellent.

Because the centre is cast iron, it cooks food at a higher temperature. (I brush it with olive oil). The side pieces though have less heat and are excellent for slow cooking or for keeping foods warm.

The potato / onion 'meatballs' are delicious served with a tomato pickle and chopped fresh basil to give an Italian flavour. If you eat dairy, put a slice of mozzarella on top of each just allowing it to melt.


Yes, you can make great (and healthy) pizza on your grill!

Pizza on the grill

Sur La Table Round Glazed Cordierite Pizza Stone PC9475, 16½"
Sur La Table Round Glazed Cordierite Pizza Stone PC9475, 16½"

To transform your grill into a brick pizza oven, you'll need a good-quality pizza stone. this is the one I prefer.

It makes pizzas that are up to sixteen and a half inches diameter so there's plenty to go round. This stone is also great for other baked goods.

You can even make excellent grilled cheese using this stone - it ensures that all baked goods are uniformly cooked with just the right level of crispness.


Vegetable grilling ideas

  • Vegetable kebabs often come to mind if you're grilling meat free dishes. Think beyond the usual veggies that we see on the grill though. Broccoli and cauliflowers are splendid grilled and are a lovely combination. If possible marinade them in advance in lemon juice and your favourite spices. Add tomato and black olives to the kebab for extra colour and flavour.
  • Carrots are perfect. A great way to cook them is to marinade in a mixture of orange juice with a little honey. Fennel seeds are a great addition too.
  • Endives should be trimmed and cut in half lengthwise. All they need is to be brushed with the oil of your choice (olive for me) and placed cut side down directly onto the grill. When they start to char slightly, turn them to cook the other side. They are delicious with a garlic dressing and sprinkled with sunflower seeds.
  • We always have tortillas on hand to make wraps from the roasted vegetables. Tortillas are lovely when quickly put on the grill for a few moments. If you or your non-meat eating guests eat cheese, then adding shredded cheese to the hot vegetables before wrapping makes a tasty 'sauce'.
  • The same applies to pita bread. Grill them quickly, cut into halves or quarters and fill with roasted vegetables. It's a good idea to add salad leaves too. For a dish with a Greek flavour, add a little sour cream or yoghurt.
  • Don't forget fruit. Peaches and mangos in particular are wonderful cooked on the grill. Try roasted grapes, mixed with a little grated ginger and a drizzle of honey. Mmm...
  • If you or your guests don't eat any animal products you can make a wonderful potato salad using an egg-free mayonnaise. Recently I've started adding chopped mint leaves to ours in addition to snipped chives - that's a lovely combination.
  • Corn and baked potatoes are barbecuing staples. Have a selection of delicious toppings. My favourite potato topping is feta with black olives and thinly sliced cucumber.
  • Grill halved artichokes (in the same way as endive above) and serve with sour cream (if you eat dairy) and sprinkled with fresh tarragon.

Another brilliant idea

Sur La Table Flexible Locking Skewers CC9866 , Set of 4
Sur La Table Flexible Locking Skewers CC9866 , Set of 4

Another simple-but-brilliant idea. These are flexible skewers and can be used to cook almost any kebab-style foods.

What I like about these is that I can prepare the vegetables in the kitchen, thread them onto the skewer and dump the whole thing into a marinade.

These are real space savers both in the kitchen, in the marinade and on the grill.The skewers have a locking mechanism so the food stays firmly in place.


More brilliant products

Sur La Table Quesadilla Grilling Basket CC7939
Sur La Table Quesadilla Grilling Basket CC7939

This is all you need to make one of the tastiest meat-free grilled dishes ever. Simply make a 'sandwich' using tortillas and use this little beauty to toast it.

If you eat dairy, then making cheese quesadillas using this utensil is so completely simple.

Or simply fill with roasted vegetables.There's no need for quesadillas to be savoury though.

Add thinly sliced fruit instead (strawberries or banana are lovely), add a little honey, grill and serve topped with a scoop of ice cream!


Don't forget safety products too.

Sur La Table Chili Pepper Grill Rack and Corer SR8922 , Steel
Sur La Table Chili Pepper Grill Rack and Corer SR8922 , Steel

Now this is simply genius.

It was created by Steve Raitchlen (yes, Mr BeerCan Chicken) and not only is there the rack but it comes complete with a coring tool as well.

Although this is designed for chili peppers, I've used it to make some pretty interesting dishes.You can use it for cooking lengths of carrots (then toss in butter with fresh coriander) or use to hold delicious stuffed button mushrooms.


© 2014 Jackie Jackson


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    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      I'm especially liking the grill clamps, the grill baskets and the plancha. Everything looks so good too. We don't have a place to grill, but I will keep these in mine for my daughter and her family.

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 3 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Grill clamps, who knew??? Great lens. Liked and pinned.