vegan summer barbecue recipes

pulled carrot | fresh polenta | quick coleslaw | grilled watermelon

During the summer, a lot of our meals tend to be simple - green salads with a dressing of olive oil and white balsamic; maybe an ear of corn quickly charred on the grill and rolled in our EVOO and fleur de sel (amazing - try it). Last week we decided to get a little more elaborate, so we stocked up at the Mar Vista Farmers’ Market and got to work on this summer feast: pulled carrot sandwiches on gluten-free flaxseed rolls, quick vinegar slaw, fresh polenta with grilled tomatoes, and grilled watermelon.

In case you’re not familiar with pulled carrot (which I was not until a few weeks ago), it’s a fantastic alternative to pulled pork for those who prefer veggies to meat. I never really ate pulled pork before I stopped eating meat years ago, but I recently had a vegan pulled pork sandwich at Organix in Eagle Rock and it was a revelation. So I knew I had to try this pulled carrot dish when I came across it on The Kitchn. We decided to make our own barbecue sauce from scratch, but you can use any sauce - homemade or bought.

The flaxseed rolls are based on a recipe by the Hemsley sisters that was featured on The Chalkboard Mag - we modified some of the ingredients, using honey instead of maple syrup, olive oil instead of coconut oil and Follow Your Heart VeganEggs in place of the eggs - which may have changed the final product a bit. In a crisis of confidence while the rolls were in the oven, I ran down the street to Gjusta to grab a baguette just in case. You can never go wrong with a backup baguette. 

For the coleslaw, we put together a quick vinegar-based one with olive oil and mustard, but the great thing about coleslaw is it’s pretty forgiving - you can use any slaw recipe you like for this sandwich. We made a big batch so we could pile some on top of the pulled carrots and keep some on the side as well. 

Now, for my personal favorite part of the meal - the fresh polenta. The first polenta I remember trying was prepared by my friend in a college dorm common room. She was a good cook, but the supermarket polenta out of a tube wasn’t much to write home about. Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I sat down for breakfast at Dudley Market in Venice. Heaven. I'm pretty sure their polenta is what heaven tastes like. It was so good I didn’t even tell my dining partner how good it was until I was almost done - I didn’t want to share it. I did give her a bite, though, and we decided we had to try making it ourselves. We asked how they made it, and it turns out that when corn is in season, chef Jesse Barber makes a fresh polenta by shaving corn right off the cob and cooking it. We took that advice and found Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe, which we made without the feta cheese and eggplant sauce (and replacing the butter with olive oil, of course). 

Finally, we decided to toss some watermelon slices on the grill - lightly brushed with olive oil beforehand and then drizzled with fir honey and topped with mint. Because what’s a summer feast without watermelon?

Gluten-free Flaxseed Rolls Recipe

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  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp ground flasxseed
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 3 VeganEggs
  • 1/2 tbsp Idyll honey
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp Idyll olive oil
  • black sesame seeds (optional)

  1. preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. mix dry ingredients (flax, baking soda, salt, pepper) in large bowl with a fork
  3. prepare the VeganEgg (or beat eggs if using)
  4. stir egg and the rest of the liquid ingredients (honey, lemon, olive oil) into the dry ingredients and leave the batter to thicken for 5 minutes
  5. take 4-5 tablespoons of batter and shape into a roll with wet hands, pressing down into baking tray to 1/4-1/2 inch thickness
  6. if using, sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds (or herbs if desired)
  7. bake for 20-22 minutes and cool completely on a wire rack

Pulled Carrots Recipe

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  • 4-5 large carrots
  • 3 tbsp Idyll olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 can (28oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup Idyll white balsamic vinegar with honey
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp Idyll honey
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • salt, pepper, paprika to taste

  1. slice the carrots into thin matchsticks (or use a spiralizer)
  2. heat olive oil in a large saucepan and saute the minced onion until translucent, then add garlic
  3. add carrots and can of tomatoes to saucepan and stir
  4. add remaining ingredients, adjusting seasoning to your liking
  5. cook on medium-low heat until the carrots are softened and the sauce has reduced, stirring occasionally

Fresh Polenta Recipe

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  • 7 ears corn
  • 3 tbsp Idyll olive oil
  • pepper to taste
  • Idyll olive oil and fleur de sel for finishing
  • 1 heirloom tomato, sliced*

  1. shuck corn and shave kernels off all but one ear
  2. the remaining ear of corn can go on the grill on high heat until partly charred*
  3. place shaved kernels in large saucepan and just barely cover with water
  4. simmer for about 15 minutes, until kernels start to soften
  5. with a slotted spoon, remove the kernels and process them in a blender or food processor until smooth (reserving the cooking liquid)
  6. the consistency of the pureed corn should be similar to mashed potatoes - if necessary, you can blend in some of the reserved cooking liquid to smooth it out or return it to pan to reduce it further if it's still too liquidy
  7. once desired consistency is reached, return the puree into the pan, add the olive oil and pepper, and continue cooking for a few minutes
  8. shave the kernels off of the grilled corn and stir into the cooked puree**
  9. before serving, finish with fleur de sel and another drizzle of olive oil
  10. *optional: put the tomato slices on the grill until right before they start to break down (careful that they don't slip through the grate) and place on top of the polenta for serving

    **this grilled corn is also optional, but adds a nice contrast to the puree

Quick Vinegar Coleslaw Recipe

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  • 1/2 red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Idyll thyme vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Idyll honey
  • 1/4 cup Idyll olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • black pepper and Idyll fleur de sel to taste

  1. combine sliced cabbage and onions in large bowl
  2. in a separate bowl, whisk together all other ingredients, then pour over the cabbage and onions and let sit for at least 20 minutes before serving

Grilled Watermelon Recipe

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  • 2 large slices of watermelon
  • 1 tsp Idyll olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Idyll honey
  • several sprigs of fresh mint

  1. heat grill to high
  2. brush the watermelon with olive oil and place on grill, cooking for several minutes until grill lines start to form
  3. flip and cook the other side, then remove from grill
  4. before serving, drizzle the slices with honey and garnish with mint

*NOTE: the recipes for the rolls and watermelon were enough for 2 people; the carrots, slaw, and polenta make enough for ~5 (we had plenty of leftovers)