Bonus Audio: Grilled Food for Vegans
Dave and Andy are hanging
out in Dave’s back yard. It’s a
beautiful, sunny, breezy, mild summer day – great for grilling. They’re talking about what to grill and all
the main dish ideas they come up with are meaty.
They start tossing around options for vegans, and that leads to a brainstorming session on grilling beans – the most
complete vegetable protein available.
A: Cooking over fire is so tied in with cooking meat it seems that “meatiness” even dominates the kind of foods that vegans grill.
D: I know. When I was vegan I mostly grilled stuff like tofu steak and veggie burgers, but now I’m looking for food that’s a little less “processed.”
A: Beans are a great way to go. But beans have problems on the grill. A lot of them need moisture to soften. They’re small and they can fall through the grill grate.
D: It depends whether they are shelled or unshelled. So something like chick peas that are shelled you can sear in a grill skillet and glaze with teriyaki, harissa, or whatever you like. Beans that are still in their pods, like edamame or green beans can be done the same way. But because pod beans are bigger, you really don’t need the grill skillet.
A: Yeah, for some reason grill pans feel like cheating. They’re just one more thing between the food and the fire. But the flame does get through, and it’s a lot easier than balancing green beans on a grill grate.
D: The bars on most of my grill grates are too far apart for grilling something like edamame, so I always use a grill skillet for them. A little smoky char on an edamame pod makes them completely different from edamame that are just boiled and salted.
A: And because the pod chars, when you suck the beans from the pod you get some of that char off the pod, giving the bean itself the flavor of the grill. Which is part of what’s exciting about grilling stuff like beans. You get this amazing grilled flavor with an ingredient that doesn’t seem like you should be able to grill it at all.
D: Right, you get the same kind of char on other pod beans, too. Fava beans are fabulous on a grill because the pods are so broad. They pick up a hell of a lot of flavor from the fire.
A: What’s also cool is how grilling favas is actually easier than boiling them.
D: Absolutely, you know how it’s usually such a pain to get fava beans out of their hulls. That’s because inside the pod there is another layer that you have to go through to get to the actual bean. The bean itself is very tender and bright green, but it’s trapped inside this waxy hull that is pretty thick when the bean’s mature. Traditionally to get the hull off you have to boil the whole pods, shock them in ice water, remove the beans and then boil them again to blister the hull from the bean. But the grilling method is faster and there are fewer steps. You toss the whole pod, unseasoned, right on the grill, and the high heat wrinkles the pod and loosens the hulls, so that when you squeeze the beans, their hulls slip right off.
A: And you can grill them over pretty high heat, because it really doesn’t matter if the pod burns, since no one’s going to eat it. In fact burning the pod helps to give the beans inside a smokier flavor. What flavors would you toss grilled favas with?
D: I like Mediterranean flavors – fresh herbs, olive oil, garlic, lemon.
A: A chopped preserved lemon slathered with some garlic and e.v. olive oil is awesome, but chunky stuff like that, which would fall off the beans during grilling, needs to be added after the grilled beans are shucked and hulled. So would a thin mixture like your herbs and oil.
D: Favas are really versatile once you get them hulled. You can toss them with a flavorful sauce or dressing, like you said, and eat them hot, or cooled down as a salad. Or make a taco by tossing grilled edamame or fava beans with grilled corn cut from the cob, wrap it all in a grilled tortilla, and serve with some salsa and guac for a complete protein - totally vegan and totally natural.
A: Very cool and very easy.
D: Even easier is just tossing some grilled edamame with your favorite spice rub.
Grilled Edamame with Mustard Wasabi Rub
We had some Mustard Wasabi Rub left over from the tuna in the coals post, so we tossed it on grilled edamame. The rub recipe is repeated here; the original is in the last post.
Makes 6 servings
Mustard Wasabi Rub:
1 1/2 tsp wasabi powder
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
1 1/2 tsp salt, preferably coarse sea salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar or brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 lb frozen edamame in their pods, thawed
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Heat a grill for direct high heat, about 500ºF.
Mix the ingredients for the rub; store in tightly closed container for up to 1 month.
Blot dry the edamame with paper towels then toss with the sesame oil.
Put a grill skillet or grill wok on the grill; wait a few minutes for the pan to get very hot. Rub the skillet or wok with a paper towel dipped in oil to coat the pan surface. Add half the edamame in a single layer, and grill for 2 to 3 minutes without moving the pan, or until the edamame are blistered and begin to whistle (the sound of steam escaping from the pods). Shake the pan vigorously to flip the edamame, and grill for 2 to 3 minutes more, or until blistered and softened. Transfer to a serving bowl, and toss with half the wasabi rub. Grill the remaining edamame the same way and toss with the first batch and the remaining rub. Serve immediately.