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Vegetarian Barbecue

Whenever I’m invited to a summer barbecue, for a few seconds, I panic: What am I going to eat? As a pescatarian, I know I’m going to be one of the few people, if not the only person, not partaking of the traditional hamburgers and hotdogs. I also know that it’s unlikely, especially if it’s a potluck, that the table will be overflowing with healthy salads. And I don’t relish the idea of taking up space on someone else’s grill for my veggie fare. So before I even RSVP “yes,” I’ve accepted that I’ll be eating a lot of chips and salsa.

When I’m in the privacy of my own backyard, though, I love to . They’re easy to prepare, and their meaty texture reassures me that I belong next to the grill, even if I’m not cooking meat.

Delicious as mushrooms are, though, there are many ways to get creative with meatless summer meals cooked on the grill. I’ve always wanted to make homemade veggie burgers, but the task seemed way too daunting. I did some research, looking at a number of recipes, to figure out the most essential ingredients. I used Melissa Clark’s “Ultimate Veggie Burger” as somewhat of a model, but switched out a bunch of ingredients to suit my own taste. The preparation was surprisingly simple, and the end product was delicious.

Next I tackled kebabs, substituting cubes of tofu for the meat; and because I really love them, I made some mushrooms too.

More Vegetarian Barbecue Recipes

Image by Jean Hanks

Tempeh Veggie Burger With Sliced Avocado

Makes 4 burgers

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 ounces tempeh
Vegetable stock
½ cup cooked quinoa
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 egg
Avocado slices

1) Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, pepper and garlic and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

2) Combine tempeh and a few splashes of vegetable stock in a blender or food processor and pulse until the mixture is just slightly chunky. Add this to the bowl with the veggies.

3) Stir in salt, pepper, paprika, parsley, quinoa and breadcrumbs. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes.

4) Add the egg and stir to combine well.

5) Let the mixture cool in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before grilling.

6) Right before you’re ready to grill, divide the mixture into 4 patties about 1-inch thick.

7) Cook the burgers for about 5 minutes on each side. Top each patty with two slices of avocado.

Jean Hanks is the food intern at the Forward. Contact her at




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