Serious Entertaining: A Vegetarian Cookout

Serious Entertaining

Seasonal menu planning for the perfect dinner party.


[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

If you're anything like me, you're probably full of grilled meats by now. We're about halfway through the summer, and the hot weather just lends itself to cooking and eating outside. It's a love-hate relationship, though. There's nothing more I enjoy than a grilled hamburger on a warm summer day, but sometimes, I've had enough with meat. A vegetarian cookout is a lighter alternative to a usually carnivorous meal. You get the same joys of firing up a grill and spending time outdoors, but this time it's a bit more colorful and healthy.

Here's a vegetarian cookout menu that will leave you satisfied on a day where the only place you want to be is outside.

Grilled Corn with Garlic and Ginger Soy-Butter

Grilling and corn on the cob go hand in hand. When a chimney of charcoal is fired up, it's almost certain that there will be corn shucking. This recipe takes the standard cob and jazzes it up with a garlic and ginger soy-butter. The corn is grilled for about 10 minutes and then doused with a soy-butter that has a hint of lemon citrus. Topped with sliced scallions, this corn will be an impressive side for a cookout.

Get the recipe! »

Halloumi and Vegetable Skewers


[Photograph: Joshua Bousel]

What better way to enhance your typical vegetable skewers than by sticking chunks of cheese in between zucchini, onion, and tomato pieces? Halloumi has a high melting point so the cheese browns without compromising the entire grill, and it brings an element of surprise to what is usually a rather plain addition to cookouts. The vegetable skewers add color to the affair and, of course, that element of "It's good for you, too!"

Get the recipe! »

Balsamic Marinated Portobello Burgers


[Photograph: Joshua Bousel]

It's hard to call it a cookout without having something that belongs on a bun. And portobello mushrooms can be just that thing that takes one for the team at a vegetarian cookout. Stems removed, grilled portobello mushrooms are great burger substitutes. They get juicy, charred, and tender, and they look great topped with burger fixings (lettuce, tomato, onion) and placed between a toasted bun.

Get the recipe! »

Grilled Pineapple with Coconut-Condensed Milk-Butter Sauce


[Photograph: Leela Punyaratabandhu]

When I first discovered you could grill fruit, I went a little nuts for it. Sturdy fruits like pineapple, watermelon, and bananas work best and are great desserts for a summer cookout. This recipe takes grilled pineapple that extra step forward with a Thai twist of coconut-condensed milk sauce. The sweet pineapple flavor is enhanced by the sauce and makes for a great finishing touch to a day of grilling.

Get the recipe! »

Whiskey Sour Slushy


[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

Finding a vegetarian drink for a cookout is an easy task, so just make it a refreshing choice if you want to keep your guests happy. A slushy will do just that with its icy consistency and frozen nature. This whiskey sour slushy is tart, but flavors (and alcohol preference) can be adjusted to taste. Red wine syrup adds more sweetness to the mix and yet another splash of color to the cookout.

Get the recipe! »