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Flame-Kissed Veggies and Vegetarian Favorites

Grilling season is sizzling right along! So far we’ve discussed five grilling must-haves and techniques for doing seafood and fruit justice over the flames. Let’s turn our tongs to two unsung champs at the cookout: veggies and meat substitutes.

Vegetables No matter how much of a grilled meat fan you are, grilled veggies are undeniably delicious and add variety to a backyard get-together.

  • As a general rule, don't peel vegetables before grilling — you'll get more nutrients and enjoy a smokier flavor. Leave the husk on corn to keep the steam in and prevent the corn from drying out. 
  • Some veggies (including artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and winter squash) can be pre-cooked to shorten grilling time and ensure that the inside and outside cook evenly. To pre-cook: steam or blanch until just barely tender. Pat dry, brush lightly with oil, then grill until completely tender and lightly browned.
  • Veggies like eggplant, fennel, onions, mushrooms, peppers, sweet potatoes, summer squash and tomatoes should be raw when placed on the grill.
  • Try grilled veggies in salads and pitas!


Meat Substitutes I remember some pretty frightful cookouts when my veggie dogs either burned to a crisp or blew up like tofu grenades.

Tofu, tempeh, veggie dogs, veggie sausage and veggie burgers all taste great when cooked on the grill, but you need to keep a few things in mind:

  • Meat substitutes tend to stick to the grill, so be sure to use a light brushing of canola oil. A non-stick grate or foil packets can also be helpful.
  • When grilling tofu, use firm or extra-firm varieties and press and drain for at least 20 minutes prior to cooking to remove as much moisture as possible.
  • For tofu, use moderately hot coals (not too hot!) or the indirect heat method. Rotate it or move it to a cooler part of the grill to ensure that the outside isn't cooking too quickly.

  • If you like to marinate your tofu, try leaving it in the fridge in the marinade overnight. For quicker turnaround time, 30 minutes will get the job done.
  • Burger and hot dog alternatives grill up fairly quickly over indirect heat. Follow instructions on the packaging as ingredients and cooking times will vary.

Check out our complete Guide to Grilling for more tasty tips!

What are yoru go-to meat substitutes on the grill, and how do you make veggies magic?

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Sue says …

@Dee An excellent choice for meatless franks are Field Roast Frankfurters, and one of the best veggie burgers around is Gardein Ulitmate Beefless Burger. Both these products have great texture and wonderful flavor!

Dan says …

When cooking or grilling firm or extra firm tofu I like to use my EZ Tofu Press to get the water out. This provides better texture and flavor absorption!

Regina says …

@Rebekah Gluten Free Food For Life brown rice tortilla is my favorite. It's also vegan, so double points.

Judy says …

Wraps of any kind are hard on diabetics. I am also gluten sensitive and find that gluten free bread products of any kind taste too dense and old. Using the recipe posted by Mimi, one could use oats ground up into flour. Alton Brown of the Food Network has a recipe for oatmeal cookies using oats ground into flour. They sound really good. A really crisp lettuce leaf makes a very good wrap.

FoodiebyGlam says …

Absolutely not! You can grill everything from breakfast to dessert! Great grilled sides include fresh veggies, breads, and anything that won’t fall through the grate! You can even grill up fresh peaches, pineapple etc, and have a fantastic dessert. Don’t just grill your meat, grill your meal!

Megan says …

@Dee Oops! Thanks Dee!

Lauren says …

Great information! I love grilled corn :)Portabella mushrooms are a great and tasty alternative to both meat and veggie burgers!

Lauren says …

Rebekah - there are wraps made from Coconut that are delicious, pliable and very healthy for you. They are raw too! They are called Pure wraps : http://www.therawfoodworld.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=100148_100216_100283&products_id=1004532

Mimi says …

Make your own, it is so simple. I have a vitamix so grind my own flour, I'm not gluten sensitive and use 2 parts wheat and 1 part linseed/flaxseed, A good way to eat them. I suggest you buy/grind a gluten free grain. I used the recipe from this website. http://gnowfglins.com/2006/04/28/whole-wheat-tortillas/# * 3 cups whole wheat flour (preferably freshly ground) * 1 cup cold filtered water * 3/4 teaspoon non-aluminum baking powder * 3/4 teaspoon sea salt * 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil * extra virgin olive oil or olive oil spray for frying In bowl of mixer, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Turn mixer on dough setting and add oil. Add water gradually until mixture cleans sides of bowl and forms ball in center of bowl. Let the machine knead the dough for 2 minutes. I LEFT DOUGH IN THE FRIDGE FOR 5 DAYS. Heat a flat cast iron frying pan over medium heat and add a small amount of oil. Oil a clean, flat work surface, such as a countertop. With an oiled rolling pin, roll out one ball of dough into a circle that is approximately 1/8″ thick, or your desired thickness. Place rolled out tortilla in the pan. Let it cook for about 25 seconds or until there are several bubbles in the dough. Flip the tortilla with a spatula and cook the other side for another 15 to 25 seconds, or until the bubbles are browned. Add oil to pan and/or rolling pin as needed. Store in a zipper seal freezer bag in refrigerator or freezer. Don't roll them too thin or they will crack when rolling, don't over cook them for the same reason. Enjoy.

Megan says …

@AnonymousWVU There are many brands for meat substitutes, but the "best" would depend on your tastes! Tofu is made from soymilk, while tempeh is made from fermented cooked soybeans.

Noreciperequired says …

Great post...vegetables (and just about anything else) on the grill this time of year are fantastic. One of my favorites is asparagus...with the slight smokey char the flavor is great! http://www.noreciperequired.com/recipe/grilled-asparagus

AnonymousWVU says …

What are the best brands for meat substitutes? And what is the difference between tofu and tempeh?

Rebekah says …

Does anyone know of any delicious Gluten Free wraps that my family and I could try? I've tried a couple, but they taste stale and hard. Any suggestions??

Dee says …

Great article! Just a few typos to point out though - "What are *you* go-to meat substitutes on the grill, and how *to* you make veggies magic?"

Deanna says …

I'm pretty sure they don't exist. Every gluten free wrap i've tried cracks into pieces upon wrapping. A lightly steamed collard green is a pretty good replacement though.