For most Americans, Memorial Day signals the start of backyard barbecuing season. But what if you don’t eat meat? Does that mean you’ll miss out on the traditional gastronomic pleasures of the first long weekend of summer? Not at all! There are many ways in which to elevate vegetables to a position of glory, one so delicious and decadent that the meat-eaters may even look your way and wonder why they didn’t choose the same. The secret to making overwhelmingly delicious veggies? Treat your vegetables as if they were meat and try these four tips.
First tip: dry-rub vegetables with spices. Forget the notion that all you need is a touch of salt and pepper (but it can be lovely, too). Mix up a harissa spice mix, use some za’atar, grab a barbecue powder, and rub it into whole heirloom carrots, cauliflower chunks, slabs of zucchini, and mushrooms.
Second tip: marinate! Vegetables absorb flavors beautifully. If marinated ahead of time, you’ll have no work to prepare them for the table post-cooking.
Number 3: brine your vegetables. Not a technique that one usually associates with vegetables, brining can soften the tough center of vegetables that may ordinarily take too long to cook on the grill, such as radishes, beets, cabbage, and carrots. Using a brine made of rice vinegar, sugar, salt, and aromatics will give your veggies a delicious kick before you even start cooking them.
Fourth tip: grill or smoke your vegetables. Grill your vegetables indirectly at low heat over charcoal and woodchips for a glorious smoky flavor. If pressed for time, forego the woodchips and grill as usual with plenty of olive oil and salt. Whether you girl potatoes, celery root, broccoli, or even a head of Romaine, you can’t go wrong!