Vegan Gourmet

Menu for the plant-based palate
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Menu for the plant-based palate

Cooking over hot coals or smoky mesquite imparts a unique flavor that cannot be duplicated indoors, and the opportunity to escape a hot kitchen this time of year can prove irresistible. While grilling may be the quintessential warm-weather enjoyment, many health-conscious cooks desire alternatives to the usual fatty grilled fare. The National Cancer Institute warning that charcoal-broiled meats can produce carcinogens, which increase the risk of developing cancer, is further motivation to find tasty and healthful substitutes for the old standbys.

Grilling tofu is easy, provided you use very firm tofu-shrink-wrapped or packed in water and labeled firm or extra-firm. Grilled Tofu Kabobs Chipotle are immersed in a marinade and set aside for 1 to 24 hours. A tasty marinade can add a distinct flavor to tofu, and marinating tofu for 12 to 24 hours will impart a chewier, more satisfying texture. The vegetables, fruit and marinated tofu are threaded onto the bamboo skewers in an alternating pattern and placed on the hot grill. You can save time if you blanch or briefly microwave any slow-cooking vegetables, such as corn on the cob, before grilling. The vegetables and kabobs are brushed with the marinade frequently to hold moisture and add flavor.

Beans are a popular side dish at barbecues, and Two-Bean Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing is a lively mix of hearty flavors and textures with a zesty tang. Prepared beans are convenient, but often the sodium is quite high in canned goods. I prefer those that have been flavored with kombu, or seaweed, because the sodium is reduced.

For dessert? A scrumptious fudge pudding that features a layer of kiwi with a fresh strawberry glaze. You won’t believe that it contains only 1 gram of fat per serving!