Meat-free Recipes for Picnics, Barbecues and Outdoor Dining
(The following is an excerpt from Carla Kelly’s new book entitled Vegan al Fresco, Arsenal Pulp Press; 2014, adapted for publication in Vitality magazine).
Once the tarps have been pulled back off the patio furniture and the barbecue uncovered and cleaned, there is nothing better than to utilize any outdoor space at home for dining as often as possible, and as weather allows!
Dining outdoors, even if the cooking has been completed inside, makes you feel more connected both to nature and to your neighbourhood and wider community. The sounds of birdsong in the morning, the wind in the trees, the summer sun on your face, and the squeals of laughter from the kids playing outside – all these things make me feel more connected to the food I’m eating, and more mindful of my place in the world.
However, for vegetarians, vegans and those with food intolerances and allergies, the change of seasons, along with the invitations to patio parties, cook-outs, barbecues, and picnics sometimes brings a whole new set of dining challenges. In my latest book, Vegan al Fresco, I have tried to address these challenges with a range of recipes which will suit all outdoor dining occasions, and appeal to a wide range of tastes.
As the understanding and acceptance of the need for meat-free options increases, it has become easier to find a range of processed vegetarian and vegan options in health food and grocery stores. These products are a wonderful starting point, and a life-saver when there are short-notice events.
In my opinion however, nothing beats the taste and texture of home-made, produce-packed offerings. Making things yourself allows you to control the quality of ingredients, and to adjust spices and seasonings to personal preference. It also gives a huge feeling of satisfaction and pride when you are able to create something totally delicious to feed your loved ones and share with friends and neighbours. It also doesn’t hurt when your animal-free, cruelty-free offering is the hit of the pot-luck!
What follows is a selection of recipes designed to tempt even the most ardent of meat-eaters, and to provide those who already eschew animal products with some tasty options to enjoy the next time the great outdoors beckons.