Monday, July 7, 2014

Healthy Vegetarian Side Dishes to Serve at Summer Parties and Barbecues

Catering for vegetarians (or even vegans) at barbecues and outdoor summer parties can be tricky, but as long as you have a separate barbecue there are many veggies that are delicious grilled on a barbie in the open air, and yummy summery side dishes can be enjoyed by meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Try these delicious healthy options for your next back yard event.

Grilled Eggplant with Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs are best with this recipe, but if you don’t have any on hand, you can certainly use their dried counterparts. Just use a pinch of each herb if you’re using dried.


1 eggplant
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cloves minced garlic
¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh thyme, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh dill, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh oregano, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

How to Make It:

Cut the eggplant into slices and salt them lightly. Let them sit for about 15 minutes, so the salt can bring out the moisture of the pieces. Wipe them dry with a bit of paper towel.

Meanwhile, combine the oil, vinegar, garlic herbs, salt and pepper. Let site to absorb the flavors for about 15 minutes.

Brush eggplant with oil and herb mixture all over, ensuring that the herbs get distributed well.

Place on a lightly greased grill and grill for about 15-20 minutes, flipping half way through.  

Simple Grilled Fennel

Fennel has a very distinct licorice flavor and when it’s grilled becomes a tender, melt-in-your-mouth experience you don’t want to miss.

Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
45 min

Olive oil

How to Make It:

Trim the tops off the fennel. The stringy parts can be used as an herb in your cooking, but aren’t needed for this recipe. You can even use the stalks in place of celery in some recipes, but realize they’ll have a much stronger flavor than celery.

Trim the bottom of the bulb and then cut the remaining bulb lengthwise into quarters. Rub with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Place on grill at medium heat to sear the fennel. Move to indirect heat, with the cut side up, and cook covered for about 45 minutes or until fennel is very soft. You can tell when it’s done by texture, rather than time. You definitely want to make sure it’s tender. 

Oven-Baked Summer Squash Fries 

A summer squash has a strong resemblance, in flavor and texture, to a zucchini. You can, in fact, substitute zucchini in this recipe, but it will probably bake a bit more quickly.
Note: This one is NOT suitable for vegans because of the eggs and creamy dips, but simple grilled squash or zucchini (rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper) is also delicious. 

1 medium summer squash
2 eggs
1 ½ cups breadcrumbs 
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon mustard power
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

How to Make It:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a large baking sheet with olive oil and set aside.

Cut your summer squash into wedges. Remove the seeds if they are quite large and set wedges aside.

Whisk the eggs in a dish and set aside.

In another dish, combine the bread crumbs, paprika, mustard powder and salt and pepper.

Start by dipping the wedges, one by one, into the egg mixture and then the bread crumb mixture. Place each wedge on the greased baking sheet. Continue until all the wedges are done.

You can bake the wedges as is for about 30-40 (until soft inside and golden brown on the outside) as is, but if you want a more golden texture, drizzle or spray some olive oil on top of the wedges. Flip half way through baking.

Serve with ranch, sour cream or another favorite dip. 

Simple and Delicious Hot Veggie & Herb Side Dish

This isn’t exactly a recipe, as you can put whatever you want in it. But it is a great technique to bring out the flavor in your herbs and veggies.
All you do is preheat your oven to 350 F. Then chop up some veggies and herbs and toss them in some olive oil. In this photo, we have pattypans, peppers, onions and tomatoes. Add some fresh herbs like basil, parsley and oregano or whatever you like. Mushrooms, eggplant, garlic and plenty of other veggies also work well.
Mix all your ingredients and wrap everything in foil on a baking dish. Bake at 350 F for about 40 minutes or so. Drizzle with your favorite balsamic reduction and serve over rice, quinoa or just have it by itself. 

Sweet Maple Green Beans

If you’re being good and eating your green beans, you may as well make a treat of them. These beans sautéed in butter and maple syrup are tender, sweet and delicious.
2 cups green beans
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Salt and pepper

How to Make It:
Steam green beans until softened. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the maple syrup and green beans saute for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

My personal top tip for grilling gorgeous veggies inside or out? A raclette party grill. You can grill meat on these too, but I use mine to keep my veggies completely separate from my meat for my veggie and vegan friends when doing outdoor summer cookouts.

Shop for raclette grills on Amazon here.
Need more healthy eating tips? Grab our FREE ebook, Eating For Success.

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