July 4th is right around the corner folks, and that means days off from work, backyard barbeques, fireworks, family, and friends. But stepping into grilling territory as a vegan can be daunting, and may be a first-time-for-everything situation for many of you. But not to worry. I’m here to provide you with a roundup of my favorite backyard picnic dishes.
> For a delicious, healthier twist on iced tea, try this Hibiscus and Ginger Iced Tea. For adults, mix in St. Germain for a special treat.
> For the more adventurous, try out this Watermelon Agua Fresca – served in a watermelon “keg”!
> My Pizza Hummus is an awesome and easy dip you can make in a blender.
> This Peach Mango Salsa is a breeze to make (especially if you have a food processor) and can be done the day before.
> This vegan Potato Salad doesn’t include vegenaise, but is just as delicious!
> Oh She Glows’ Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese holds a special place in my heart. It takes a bit of time and should be made the night before (just reheat before serving) because it takes a while to roast the squash (though I suppose you could purchase squash puree instead to simplify things).
> Beer-soaked French Fries. I’m not kidding. Let’s talk about these for a minute. If you make one thing on this list, make these. I promise they will be a hit. I let my fries marinate 45 minutes instead of the recommended 15, and I have used porters (Green Man’s Porter, and Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald).
The Main Event:
> Vegan Hot Dogs are no longer the sodium-laden, preservative-packed links you get at the grocery store. No my friend, you can make these at home. While they won’t have that distinctive “rubbery” texture to them, they are still rubbery enough thanks to the vital wheat gluten. Don’t let them scare you off- it’s really a matter of mashing everything and rolling them into tubes, then steaming. The most important things is using actual parchment paper, not wax paper. If you use wax paper, your hot dogs will be ruined. I’ve done it, and it ended in heartbreak. (Note: Whole Foods sells whole wheat buns that are vegan).
> These are the favorite veggie burgers in my house, but it’s easy to guess why, as they’re the brain child of the amazing Isa Chandra. Her Olive Lentil Burgers pack in so much flavor, and are full of nutrition. If you are going to grill them, still hit them with the oven first so they stay together over the heat.
The Real Main Event (who are we kidding, we’re all in it for the desserts):
> I’m going to suggest two raw desserts here. Don’t let this scare you off. This first one is by and large the best vegan dessert I have ever made or had, ever. Kristen Suzanne’s Raw Cinnamon Brownies are delicious and super easy to make. Freeze for a few hours before you serve- and they are usually best eaten with some coconut milk ice cream!
> Raw Lavender and Lemon Cheesecake is a delicious treat that should be made the night before- it needs time to freeze, and the longer it has, the better it will hold its shape. If you want to make this more in the spirit of the holiday, leave out the lavender, double the lemon, and top with blueberries and raspberries.
I hope this list has helped you in your quest for the perfect vegan Fourth of July. Enjoy your holiday celebrations!
For more vegan info, recipes, and fun, follow me on Twitter @glpetruzzi or on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/glpetruzzi/boards/.