June 11, 2013

Grills Gone Vegan, a review


Grills Gone Vegan is a very comprehensive guide to all you need to know about vegan grilling. I mistakenly thought it was just about cooking on an outdoor barbecue, but I was wrong. Tamasin Noyes covers all the options from a stove-top grill pan or an electric indoor grill, to an outdoor charcoal or gas barbecue. Once you get the tools and techniques down, you're free to grill in the heat of summer or during the worst blizzard of winter.

The book starts with advice on buying outdoor and indoor grilling devices, and essential utensils to make grilling more convenient. She then explains how to maximize grill flavors with marinades, wet and dry rubs, and smoker boxes. Next is a short course on how to grill — preparing the grill, choosing and prepping the ingredients, and stocking the pantry. There's also a section at the back filled with amazing-sounding sauces and dressings.

I have to admit that when we barbecue at our house, it's usually a simple affair of slapping various veggies, tofu or tempeh on the grill — nothing fancy. We love the taste of grilled food in all its simplicity, but the idea of spiffing up our grilling and finding new ways to enjoy our beloved barbecue was very appealing. Since my husband usually wields the barbecue tools, he picked out the first recipe to try — portobellos smothered in ratatouille. Doesn't that sound good? I don't know exactly what went wrong but though he worked at it for 1-1/2 hours, the end result was not good. Neither of us enjoyed the meal and it didn't look good enough to photograph. Bummer. I think maybe it had too many steps for someone used to keeping things simple.


After a certain amount of resting from the exhaustion of grilling, he tried again, this time with a simpler marinated and grilled tofu — five-spice tofu. (He probably chose it because the marinade contained sriracha.) I wish the cookbook had pictures to reinforce the recipes — it helps a lot to see what a food is supposed to look like. Perhaps if my husband had been looking at a photo of glistening tofu slabs searing on the grill, he wouldn't have chosen to cut the tofu into cubes and skewer it with mushrooms.


In spite of his efforts to foil Tamasin's excellent recipe, the tofu was delicious, and we enjoyed our meal. He even managed to get the requisite grill marks on some of the cubes. Although the tofu was tasty, the amount of time it takes to marinate (eight hours to three days) will probably keep it off our grill list unless we learn how to plan ahead instead of being the last-minute grillers that we are. Potato slices are more our speed. But don't let our sloth-like ways inhibit your creative grilling impulses.

For the last recipe test, I took over, and decided to grill in the kitchen, the fresh bunch of asparagus we had just purchased at the farmers market. Although the recipe is presented as a salad with Chinese cabbage, I chose to make Tamasin's side dish variation of Asian asparagus spears.


I don't own a bona fide grill pan with ridges, but I do have a round cast iron griddle, and took some liberties with the definition of indoor grilling, to use it. The recipe was easy, and basically involved tossing the grilled asparagus with a light sauce. The result was delicious and visually appealing — something I would be proud to serve to guests. Although it was supposed to serve four, it was so good the two of us gobbled it up ourselves — along with pasta and soy curls with marinara sauce.

This is not a grab-a few-things-from-the-pantry-and-slap-them-on-the-grill kind of book. The recipes, for the most part, require a bit of thought and planning, but if you are looking for creative and delicious ways to make the most out of your grilling experience, you might want to take a look. "Grills Gone Vegan" will elevate your grilling skills into the realm of gourmet cooking, and you will discover new and unexpected ways to enjoy grilled foods.

I focused only on gluten-free recipes, but there are many recipes for seitan, and even desserts you may be interested in. Here's another review by Chow Vegan with different recipe selections. 

Asian asparagus spears
  • 8 ounces asparagus
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium tamari
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  1. Preheat a grill, grill pan or electric grill to medium heat.
  2. Put the asparagus in a medium bowl. Drizzle with canola oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss gently until the asparagus is evenly coated. 
  3. Put the asparagus on the grill and cook, turning occasionally until marked, tender and bright green, about eight minutes. (If using an electric grill, keep it open and cook a few minutes longer if necessary.)
  4. Toss the spears with the sesame seeds, tamari, vinegar, and sesame oil as soon as they come off the grill.
My recipe notes: I used 12 ounces of asparagus without changing the quantities of the other ingredients and it worked perfectly. I used less than 1/4 teaspoon of salt. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of your asparagus spears. My asparagus was very thin and cooked in just a few minutes. I used unseasoned rice vinegar.

The recipe was reprinted with the permission of the publisher, Book Publishing Company.
Full disclosure: The book was sent to me free of charge. All opinions are my own. I was not paid to review the book.

23 comments:

  1. How funny, I'm about to post a review of the same cookbook. Although I had a different experience, I liked the recipes but I made different things. Yes, some of them were quite involved and normally I'm happy with plain, just throw it on the grill veggies like the asparagus. They look really good. :-)

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    1. Your results look really delicious and make me want to try again. I'll have to plan ahead, buy the ingredients and try one of the other recipes.

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  2. my boyfriend loves to grill, but as a veggie it was annoying to only make veggie burgers all the time. this looks awesome, i might need to get it!

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    1. If you eat seitan there are a lot of interesting options. Read Chow Vegan's review for more ideas.

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  3. I like the look of the asparagus! Unfortunately I don't have a grill in any form, or a griddle, but they would probably be okay made in a pan...yes?
    The potato slices also look really tasty! Somehow more fun to eat than in fry form.
    Yeah, I'm not super into prep either... I'd probably just use a grill for veg skewers or maybe a burger.

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    Replies
    1. I think you could make them in a pan, but cast iron is the way to go! I love my cast iron griddle. It's a Lodge 10.5" pre-seasoned round griddle and it costs about $15. I see cast iron at Goodwill all the time but you have to clean it up and get any meat fat out — not impossible. The rest of my cast iron is 2nd hand.

      The sauce for the asparagus was super simple and it really was delicious. Of course, the totally plain grilled potato slices were pretty great, too!

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  4. I can get behind the asparagus recipe - that definitely looks like something I'd cook at home. No grill here either, alas. The smoker box stuff sounds really interesting too - albeit not sure something you could do without a garden!

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    1. You can do a smoker box — a facsimile I guess — in the oven if you don't have an outdoor grill.

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  5. I am sorry your first two recipes didn't really work out and that they were not keepers. You photographs are, as always, impressive though! You make it look like it tasted good :-) The asparagus looks and sounds really good--I am glad it was a hit!

    Courtney

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    1. I thought the second recipe was really good — in spite of my husband not following directions. Our problem is not being good at planning ahead, so our grilling tends to be of the hey-lets-grill-I-think-we-have-some-zucchini variety. I'd like to try some of the more complex recipes because they sound so good.

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  6. I saw a review of this cookbook somewhere else (other than here & Chow Vegan) but can't remember where. It does sound like a great cookbook. Bummer about the first recipe not working out, though.

    We're the type that don't like to have things too involved when grilling, too.

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    1. Maybe the secret is to have things marinating in the fridge at all times so you're always ready to grill!

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  7. Your photos are gorgeous! I appreciate your review. I am also more of a last-minute griller, so it's good to be forewarned if a book requires some planning.

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    1. Hi Kim! Thank you for the compliment. I'm hoping that once the weather gets more summery, I'll be inspired to try some of the other recipes. They sure sound good.

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  8. I am taking this book to every grilling potluck I have to attend in future. I am so glad it's out. Nobody will ever ask me again, what vegans throw on the grill...

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    1. If you take some of the dishes in the book, I'm sure you will be the guest of honor!

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  9. I'm not a griller, but now I feel like maybe I should give it a try? I'm a huge fan of shish kebabs and haven't had them in ages (although I know the key is color!); I'm going to have to check out some of those sauces and give it a whirl.

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    1. The sauces sound really great — especially the spicy ones. I should get more serious about upgrading my grilling skills!

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  10. Hem, exceptional creativity, and looks very tasty to serve with in

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  11. I love the title! :-)

    We have yet to fire up our simple little grill, but I'm really wanting to find a great marinade recipe for portobellos, and also grill Cadry's Lemony Baked Tofu with Rosemary, which is delicious when baked but rises to sublime when grilled. Later this summer for sure - we actually brought a ton of mesquite wood with us from Texas back in 1989 just for grilling! You'd think we'd do a lot more of it with that level of fuel dedication. LOL

    Bummer that your first recipe was a Fail, because it sure sounded good! I agree that photos can be very helpful. At least the mushroom family redeemed itself with the marinated tofu recipe! That looks wonderful, and probably would have gone splendidly with the grilled asparagus, too!

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    1. This is our second year of owning a gas grill and we love it. In the book there's a section about making a simple smoker box and using aromatic wood to impart flavor, but we haven't done anything like that yet. Do you have a charcoal grill?

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    ReplyDelete

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