During the summer grilling months, vegetarians often get the raw end of the deal. At backyard barbecues, they’re forced to subsist on flavorless flaxseed-and-barley burgers alone, while carnivores feast on elaborate multicourse menus of thick, juicy prime ribs and fire-grilled oysters. In this month’s spirit of democracy and freedom, we’d like to suggest that all herbivores and carnivores be treated equally.
Paul Duncan, the chef de cuisine at Tabla on NE 28th Ave, fully agrees. Duncan, whose Mediterranean menu at the restaurant almost always includes one or two vegan and vegetarian options that are as fully executed as any of the meat entrées on offer, insists that vegetarians, as well as those who host them, need to start thinking more creatively about meatless grilling. “There’s a vegetarian at every one of my cookouts at home,” says Duncan. “Most think they should just have the meatless form of whatever everyone else is eating, which is usually hot dogs and burgers.” But Duncan believes that vegetarian grilling can mean anything from wood-fired vegetables and salads to the polenta cakes included in his menu on the following pages.