Jacques Brennan is the author of the blog – Le Journal, find it at www.hungrysoulplantpower.com and is a frequent collaborator with the West Cork arts and health organisation, MusicAlive. He is also a guest food contributor to West Cork People.
I grew up eating mostly plants. When it came to BBQs, as you can imagine, things were not always easy for me. I looked on from the side as other children had their burgers and hotdogs. I got used to eating a lot of potato, waldorf, and pasta salads.
Being different and standing out is not what kids like. As a young scout, there was always the summer camping trip. The leaders and organisers never knew what to feed me. I just ate whatever I could; I always found something, but when it came to the camp fire and roasting hotdogs, I had nothing.
Then along came some of the first meat substitutes, the veggie hotdog. They were in a tin – Linketts, they were called. As children we loved them. On those camping trips or staying over at friends’ houses, I always had a tin of Linketts. Those who knew me were surprised to see me eating hotdogs; they looked just like their own. To people who did not know me, I was like all the others.
That was many years ago and so much has changed. Plant-based sausages, hotdogs and burgers are now easily available in every supermarket. But I have also changed; those plant-based hotdogs or burgers are good from time to time, but I prefer food I make myself.
So what to do for those BBQs? I find the tastiest food off the BBQ is most often roasted and grilled veggies. There is such intense flavour from a bit of char and a little marinade. Sometimes I make my own burgers but I never tire of eating Shish kabob: The long skewers, with veggies after veggies, each a different colour, a unique flavour, with the added marinade dripping off them. You eat slowly, one at a time, carefully not to get burnt, savouring the taste of summer…and there are rarely any left-overs!
NB: If you want to know more about eating soya and tofu go to www.hungrysoulplantpower.com and look under the Nutrition and Health section.
The Veggie Shish Kabob
Served with a little brown rice
Enough for 4 (2 skewers each)
• 1 block of firm tofu, 300 – 400 g – cubed, bite-size.
• 1 Red Pepper – cubed
• 1 Courgette – thick rounds
• 10 mushrooms – sliced in two
• Half a Red Onion – chunks
• 1 cup of basmati brown rice
• 8 bamboo skewers – soaked
• Juice of 1 lime
• Pinch of chilli flakes
• 3 tbsp. natural peanut butter – only peanuts
• 4 tbsps. of tamari soya sauce
• 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 good thumb size piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
• 1 tbsp. maple syrup or other sweetener
Make the marinade. Cut the tofu into bite-size cubes and allow them to soak in the marinade for an hour or more if you have time, keep marinade for later
Soak the bamboo skewers for 20min. so they will not burn in cooking.
Cook the rice. 2 cups of water, a pinch of salt and 20 to 25min. should do it. Set aside.
Fry the tofu until crisp on a few sides, then set aside.
With the left-over marinade make a sauce adding the peanut butter, the lime juice, the chilli flakes and half cup of water, mix well together.
Using the bamboo, skewer the veggies and tofu in turn … pepper / courgette / tofu / mushroom / onion / pepper … and so on until you have eight ready. Using half the sauce brush each one.
On your BBQ grill the skewers, turning them from time to time until the veggies are just starting to char. (Can also be made under the oven grill).
Once ready, brush the veggies once more with the last of the sauce and serve on a bed of rice.