Wednesday, November 29, 2023

These Tasty Plant-Based Barbecue Recipes Are Grill-Free


Nothing says warm weather eats quite like a backyard barbecue, especially when you have plant-based recipes like these.

Get your aprons on and your cooking tongs out. For a quintessential barbecue feast, whip up these plant-based recipes by Lisa Rice, the Senior Health Mentor and Director of Content and Promotion for WeHeal, a new transformative healthcare model founded by Dr. Matthew Lederman and Dr. Alona Pulde, the pioneering physicians from the groundbreaking film Forks Over Knives.

Vegan barbecue spread


BBQ Mushroom Steaks

Even carnivores will love these!
I first learned this incredible technique of turning oyster mushroom clusters into “steaks” from the Wicked Healthy Sarno Brothers, Chad and Derek. They have a way with mushrooms and even wrote a “Mushroom Manifesto” e-book! The technique of searing and pressing the clusters between two cast iron skillets while cooking over a steady heat creates an incredibly “meaty” texture. It works great with Maitake clusters. Also, cooking Lion’s Mane this way can mimic a chicken cutlet and with a beet marinade, a piece of steak! Mushrooms are extremely nutritious, do not contain any fat, and are very versatile for cooking.
You do not need to run out and buy cast iron cookware if you do not already have it. This can be done with two pans and some weight on top.
Course Main Course
Author Lisa Rice


For the mushrooms

  • Oyster or Maitake mushroom clusters
  • Dry seasonings: garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper (You can also use cumin, chili powder, lemon pepper, or your favorite blend.)

For basting

  • Barbecue sauce


  • Have two skillets ready and a firm metal spatula. 
  • Pre-heat one pan over a medium to medium-high heat. 
  • To test if it is hot enough, drip a drop or two of water in it – it should sizzle. 
  • I use a very thin spray of avocado oil. However, this can be done with no oil, but I recommend beginning at a slightly lower heat – medium to medium low.
  • Sprinkle your seasonings over one side of the mushroom and put the seasoned side down in the hot pan. Take your other pan and press it on top. Hold it there with pressure for 30 seconds or so, then leave it to cook (with a weight on the pan if not using cast iron – like a large can of tomatoes) for about 5 minutes or until a fair amount of liquid has released from the mushroom. 
  • With your spatula carefully flip it and season the up side, put the pan on and press again and cook for another 5 or more minutes. Season and flip one to two more times or until both sides have a nice golden color and most of (or all) the liquid has been absorbed. You are aiming for golden brown. 
  • Heat a grill (or grill pan if cooking in the kitchen) and baste the mushroom with your favorite barbecue sauce and place the basted side on the grill and cook several minutes, baste the top and flip and cook until both sides have char marks and the some of the ends are blackened (kind of like a steak). 
  • Remove from the heat onto a cutting board and slice diagonally into strips to serve, with some more sauce on the side. This is great on a sandwich, taco or in a burrito.

BBQ Jackfruit Sammie

My introduction to jackfruit as a meat substitute came several years ago from my friend and culinary mentor Chad Sarno of Wicked Healthy. He made jackfruit carnitas that knocked my socks off! From that point forward I used it in many dishes and therefore kept my pantry stocked with at least 2 or 3 cans at all times. It’s important to get the canned jackfruit in brine which is unripe and NOT sweet. I love fresh jackfruit, but it doesn’t work as a meat substitute. And be careful not to get the canned jackfruit in syrup because it is not meant for this dish!
Also, there are now several brands selling their own pre-seasoned jackfruit like Upton’s Naturals and Trader Joe’s. I have not tried them and this recipe is easy enough to make on your own. We are lucky to have access to several Asian markets that sell canned jackfruit in brine, but I usually get it from Trader Joe’s. Some Whole Foods carry it at a higher price.
Author Lisa Rice


For the jackfruit

  • 2-3 cans unripe jackfruit in brine (from asian market or Trader Joe’s), drained and rinsed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-2 T Bone Suckin’ seasoning, dry rub steak seasoning, (or 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, and 1 tsp chili powder blend)
  • 1-2 cups BBQ sauce (oil-free brands include Bone Suckin’ Sauce, Austin’s Own and Trader Joe’s Kansas City BBQ Sauce)
  • 1-2 T hot sauce (optional)
  • 1/2-1 cup vegetable broth

For the sammie

  • Buns of choice (I like the Ozery multigrain and the Ezekiel buns. TJs has really nice soft whole wheat burger buns that contain oil)
  • Sliced dill pickles

For the slaw

  • 1 bag (or 3 cups) shredded cabbage slaw mix
  • 2 sliced scallions
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro or flat leaf parsley
  • Vegan mayo
  • Optional: add these to the slaw with the mayo: drizzle of rice vinegar, date, maple or agave syrup, 1 -2 tsp dijon mustard, generous sprinkle of onion  and garlic granules, salt, and pepper to taste.


  • Drain the jackfruit and gently break it apart into shreds in a bowl using your hands.  You can chop off the tougher tips and remove the seeds if you want to, but I don’t bother. Once they cook down with everything else you don’t even notice them. Toss the shredded jackfruit with your dry seasonings and let it sit while you prepare everything else.
  • Heat a wide pan on medium high heat. While you wait for it to heat up, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onion to your pan, stirring frequently until it turns translucent, splashing in a little veggie broth as needed to prevent sticking, then add the garlic and cook another minute or two until fragrant.  Add jackfruit, mix to coat. Stir and cook until some of the moisture cooks out and the jackfruit begins to get a little dry. It’s ok if some sticks to the bottom of the pan.
  • Add bbq sauce (and hot sauce if using) and stir to coat, adding just a touch of vegetable broth to loosen up the sauce. Stir and reduce heat to a low medium, cover and let it simmer, and braise for 15-20 minutes, checking frequently and adding a little more veggie broth if it starts getting too dry – but not too much!
  • Make your slaw by adding everything to a bowl and mixing well until the cabbage is coated.
  • Check the jackfruit, stirring through and removing the lid. The sauce should have reduced, but shouldn’t be sticking to the sides.
  • To assemble, spoon a generous pile of BBQ jackfruit onto each bun and top with slaw and pickles and a few drops of hot sauce if desired.

Isa and Lisa’s All American Beet Burgers

One of my vegan/plant-based heroes is Isa Chandra Mokowitz of Post Punk Kitchen fame. I have been cooking from her cookbooks and website for over a decade because you can never fail with her recipes! When her book “Isa Does It” came out, I joked with her that I was going to cook one of her recipes every day for a year and start a blog called Isa and Lisa. And she joked back and said Isa is like Lisa but Noelle (get it?).
Isa’s dishes are loved by everyone – even meat eaters. So when I am cooking for a crowd of omni or carnivores I often make one of Isa’s recipes. Because we try our best to avoid oil, I often omit it in her recipes and they come out great this way. But this recipe doesn’t list oil as an ingredient, so win! However, because these are absolutely way better when cooked in a cast iron skillet as she instructs, you may choose to use a very light spray on the bottom of the pan – but I have made them both ways and they come out fine! The cast iron gives them a great texture. These burgers are a sure crowd pleaser!
Note: This burger does not taste like beets. However, I decided to make a batch after writing this post but I didn’t have a beet. So I subbed shredded carrot and used a couple of teaspoons beet powder I had in the pantry from a recipe I never made. It gave the burgers that meaty color without the flavor of beets. If you hate beets and don’t care about the color, these are great with carrots! I had it on a toasted Ezekiel English muffin with lettuce, tomato, red onion, sweet pickle, mustard and ketchup and a side of baked wedge fries.


  • 1 1/4 cups cooked, cooled brown or black rice
  • 1 cup cooked brown or green lentils, cooled, drained well
  • 1 cup shredded beets
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, rubbed between your fingers
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel (or finely crushed fennel seed)
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 3 tablespoons very finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons smooth almond butter
  • 1/2 cup very fine breadcrumbs


  • Peel beets and shred with the shredder attachment of your food processor, then set aside. Change the attachment to a metal blade. Pulse the brown rice, shredded beets and lentils about 15 to 20 times, until the mixture comes together, but still has texture. It should look a lot like ground meat.
  • Now transfer to a mixing bowl and add all the remaining ingredients. Use your hands to mix very well. Everything should be well incorporated, so get in there and take your time, it could take a minute or two.
  • Place the mixture in the fridge for a half hour to chill.
  • Preheat a cast iron pan over medium-high. Now form the patties. Each patty will be a heaping 1/2 cup of mixture. To get perfectly shaped patties, use a 3 1/2 inch cookie cutter or ring mold. Otherwise, just shape them into burgers with your hands.
  • Cook patties for about 12 minutes, flipping occasionally. Do two at a time if your pan isn’t big enough. Use a little spray olive or avocado oil if needed. Burgers should be charred at the edges and heated through.
  • Serve on a whole grain bun with all the fixins!

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