Vegetarian BBQ – complete oxymoron to true die hard bbq fans. And as someone who lived in Memphis, TN for 5 years, I get it. Even as much as I love good bbq and make it myself, it can be heavy and well, I can’t light up the smoker all the time. So I started thinking about good a good bbq sandwich but not a fake meat sort of sandwich. No matter how hard you try or how successful you think you are – you can not mimic the flavor or texture of pulled pork or brisket with veggies. Seriously, you can’t!
I decided to use vegetables in their whole form and treat them as meat. Basically my plan wasn’t going to bastardize jackfruit and claim it as pulled pork. I also didn’t want to baste a portobello mushroom in bbq sauce and be done with it, but I was totally going to use a portobello mushroom :). I used portobello and eggplant. Both of these vegetables have a hearty flavor that gets better on the grill and they both add something different to the flavor profile.
I tried to stick pretty traditional because that’s kinda how I like my bbq. It also makes it easier for everyone else to stick with the recipe. I started with marinating the portobello in some vinegar bbq sauce and a touch of olive oil. If you do not have a vinegar based bbq sauce, I think that an Italian dressing would be fine too. I sliced the eggplant and only used a bbq dry rub to season it. By doing that, I made the eggplant stand out on it’s own and not become over powered by the portobello. I made a basic sweet coleslaw and then deviated from a regular pickle by making some pickled red onions. That really gave it just that extra something. The final step was melting some smoked gouda on the portobello’s.
I know it seems like there are a lot of steps to this (probably because there are) but they are relatively simple and with some thought and planning, I think this would be fantastic as a weekend recipe for the grill.
Related Recipe: Portobello Mushroom Patty Melt
Vegetarian BBQ Sandwich
- 4 Portobello mushrooms
- 1 small eggplant
- 1/4 cup vinegar based bbq sauce or Italian dressing
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1/2 cup tomato based bbq sauce
- 2 tablespoons of your favorite bbq dry rub
- 4 slices of smoked gouda
- 4 hamburger buns
- 1 small red onion
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 cups of shredded cabbage or the coleslaw mix you can get in the produce section
- 1/4 cup mayo
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- couple pinches of salt
- Take the stem off the portobellos and scoop out the gills. Marinate in the vinegar bbq sauce and a touch of olive oil. If not, then the Italian dressing. Marinate for an hour.
- While the portobello's are marinating, start the pickled red onions. Bring all the ingredients (except the sliced red onions) to a boil and take off the heat. Cover the onions and place in the fridge.
- Make the coleslaw by combining all the ingredients. Taste, adjust seasonings if you want and set aside in the fridge.
- Turn your grill onto high. Slice the eggplant, brush some olive oil in them and season with your favorite bbq dry rub. Remove the portobellos from the marinade and season with a pinch of salt. Place the portobellos and eggplant on the grill. After 5 minutes, flip them and baste with some tomato based bbq sauce. Close the lid for a minute or 2. Open back up and place the smoked gouda on the mushrooms. Close the lid and let the cheese melt. Maybe 3-4 minutes. At this point everything should be cooked and you can remove the veggies.
- Assemble the sandwiches by placing some tomato based bbq sauce on the bottom of the hamburger buns, then adding the portobello, eggplant, coleslaw and pickled red onions.
Balanced, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Peanut Free, Tree Nut Free, Soy Free, Fish Free, Shellfish Free, Pork Free, Red Meat Free, Crustacean Free, Celery Free, Mustard Free, Sesame Free, Lupine Free, Mollusk Free, Alcohol Free, Kosher