The 4th of July weekend is upon us, and you know what that means …
Cookouts, cheap beer, fireworks, and American flag undies.
Let’s ignore the underwear for now and focus on my favorite part of the independence holiday, the cookout.
It’s no secret that options at a non-vegan cookout are often limited. The host may throw a freezer-burned Boca burger leftover from the last cookout you attended on the grill — and that’s if you’re lucky.
But I don’t let that stop me. Cookouts are one of my absolute favorite summertime activities, so if I’m not hosting my own, I’ll offer to bring a few dishes to share when invited out.
In preparation for this year’s holiday weekend, I reached out to my fellow No Meat Athlete team members, Matt, Susan, and Esther, for menu suggestions.
Cookout food is all about keeping things simple, fresh, and easy to share, and together we’ve developed an absurdly delicious menu with options you can prep ahead or throw on the grill at the last minute.
Here’s what we’re grilling up this holiday:
Summertime Salads and Side Dishes
1. Long Weekend Grilled Salad, which highlights many of the season’s freshest veggies.
2. Keep it refreshing with the Red Chile Corn Salad with Limas & Cherry Tomatoes salad.
3. Mexican Style Grilled Corn, a summertime party favorite.
4. What’s a cookout without baked beans? Step away from the canned options and try out this Maple Baked Beans recipe.
5. Always a party favorite, Matt’s Buffalo Hummus.
Vegan Dips and Sauces to Spice Up Your Cookout
6. Guacamole. You just can’t go wrong with fresh guacamole.
7. Matt’s favorite Grill-Smoked Eggplant Dip for a smoky treat.
8. Skip boring traditional salsa and mix it up with this rad Radish and Nectarine Salsa.
9. When it comes to BBQ sauce, simple is often better. It doesn’t get much simpler than Del’s Basic Barbecue Sauce.
10. One of my favorite ways to dress up a burger or veggie dog: Cashew Cream Sauce. Kick it up a notch by adding chipotle seasoning to the standard recipe, or lighten up the flavor with Cilantro Lime Garlic Cashew Sauce.
Grillable Entrees Even Non-Vegans Will Love
11. Surprise your guests with Creamy Red Pepper Scallion Spread Grilled Flatbreads.
12. Hawaiian BBQ Tacos from Rip Esselstyn’s My Beef with Meat are the perfect summertime marriage between sweet pineapple and savory BBQ sauce. Matt recommends grilling the tortillas for a special touch.
13. Carrot dogs? Carrot dogs. Sounds crazy, but this alternative to the processed veggie dog is guaranteed hit (or at least a conversation starter). Throw them on the grill for extra flavor.
14. Keep the preparations quick and simple with these Perfect Grilled Portobellos.
Beautiful Summer Night Desserts
16. Peanut Butter Bliss Balls are Esther’s go-to year round treat.
17. Cool things off with homemade Raspberry Sorbet.
18. Spicy Grilled Watermelon … simple, sweet, and the perfect summertime treat.
Take Back the Cookout
It’s easy for vegan cookouts to become overrun with frozen veggie burgers and soy hotdogs. They have a time and place, sure, but I believe cookouts are the perfect time to highlight other plant-based options.
This holiday season I encourage you to take back the cookout, and create a menu everyone will love.