Ruby is a British lifestyle writer and the celebrated creator of the blog The Numinous. Best of all, Ruby will be our feature writer for the lululemon blog. Here she digs deeper on the vegan secret supper club.
As a vegetarian, BBQ season can mean endless rounds of grilled halloumi sandwiched in a bun with a limp lettuce leaf and soggy slice of tomato. Delicious - not. And as for vegan choices, we’re pretty much down to a plate of potato salad – so long as it isn’t drenched in mayo.
Which is when you wish you were bringing along chef Merida Anderson as your plus one.
The Vancouver native has been hosting pop-up restaurant the Vegan Secret Supper Club for the past five years, out of her home in Brooklyn, NY, and select locations in Montreal and VC, and published her first book of recipes earlier this year. A former fashion designer, Merida has been fully vegan for 13 years and, as she puts it; “as a vegan you’re going to want to like cooking, or there won’t be much for you to eat!”
Her approach to BBQs is pretty much BYOV – Bring Your Own Veg. After all; “A vegetable is most flavourful when it’s roasted, and a BBQ only intensifies that.” As for what to bring, “really, the only thing that hinders a vegetable from going on a grill is it’s size - otherwise you can BBQ anything.”
Corn – “out of the husk” – is a favourite; “just brush it with a marinade of chillies, lemon and a some olive oil, and grill it until it’s a little caramelized and charred. Asparagus is really nice too, dressed the same way.” She’s also a fan of cauliflower steaks, which can be cooked directly on the grill with some smoke chips added to the coals for an extra kick.
For something more substantial, Merida suggests adapting a recipe for sweet potato fritters from her book, which are designed to be served with roasted pineapple, an apple tamarind chutney and / or a coconut sour cream (“actually one of my favourite recipes – it goes with everything.”) To ensure the burgers work on the grill, make sure it’s nicely oiled and that the fritters themselves are chilled to firm. The pineapple can also be sliced length-ways and cooked straight on the grill.
Makes about 18 fritters.
8 cups (2 L) grated sweet potatoes (or a mix of potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup (250 mL) rice flour
2 tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
⅛ tsp garam masala
¼ cup (60 mL) soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
¼ cup (60 mL) chopped fresh cilantro
⅓ cup (80 mL) chopped green onions
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients with a wooden spoon until well incorporated. Use your hands, if needed, to combine ingredients. Preheat and generously oil a frying pan or griddle on medium. Use ¼ cup (60 ml) batter to form patties or
fritters about ½ -in (1-cm) thick. Grill on each side for five minutes.
1 whole pineapple, sliced lengthways into strips.
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
¼ –1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste
1 tsp tamari
1 tbsp lime juice
In a bowl, gently toss pineapple with coconut oil, red pepper flakes, tamari, and lime juice. On a clean grill, sear each side of the pineapple strips until griddle marks appear and the marinade begins to caramelize.
apple tamarind chutney
Makes 4 cups (1 L).
8 oz (230 g) whole tamarind or ½ cup (125 mL) tamarind paste/concentrate
1 tsp grapeseed oil
½ cup (125 mL) chopped shallots or red onions
2 apples, cored and chopped (Granny Smith is best)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
½ tsp cumin
1 tbsp tamari
½ up (125 mL) maple syrup
2 cups (500 mL) water
If using whole tamarind, which comes in a condensed brick, soak in ½ cup (125 mL) boiling water for 10 minutes and strain out seeds before adding to recipe.
In a medium pot on medium-high, heat oil.
Add shallots and saute until translucent. Add apples, red pepper flakes, and cumin and cook for another two minutes, stirring constantly. Add tamarind, tamari, maple syrup, and water and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. In a blender or food processor, or with an immersion blender, blend chutney until smooth. Be careful when blending hot liquids.
Pour into jars while hot and process in a water bath if you are planning to store the chutney long-term. Unprocessed, it will keep in a well-sealed glass container in for up to two weeks.
coconut sour cream
Makes 2 cups (500 mL).
1 13-oz (370-g) can coconut cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp tahini
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp brown rice syrup
¼ cup (60 mL) plain non-dairy yogurt (optional)
In a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients until
smooth. Refrigerate overnight to thicken.