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The ultimate vegetarian braai guide

’Tis the season for a meatless meal

Londiwe Dlomo Journalist
Image: Supplied.

While most braai masters will be waxing their tongs and fluffing their aprons this month, it’s not the greatest time for those who don’t eat meat.

Often relegated to a corner of the yard with a paper plate of chakalaka, coleslaw, and some lettuce leaves masquerading as a “green salad”, the non-meat-eaters in the family tend to be poorly treated. But a new day is on the horizon — grab your pen and paper and let’s get a braai shopping list started for those non-meat eaters.    

First, get some tin foil — this comes in handy for popping vegetables onto the braai or, even better, for wrapping up some sweet potatoes and roasting them on the coals.

Vegetables you can roast are your friend: these often have a thick skin that can endure heat, such as butternut, brinjals, and potatoes. And look at cauliflower, big fleshy mushrooms, and the ever-trusty mielie. It’s best to leave vegetables whole unless they’re on a skewer.   

Also great is stone fruit — nectarines, for example, make a great addition to a salad, especially after being seared on the braai for a bit. Instead of that sad green salad you now have a juicy nectarine salad with a charred sweet and savoury flavour with which to surprise your guests.  

There are also many meat substitutes on the market, with most big retailers having a brand that caters for vegans or vegetarians. For sauces, good old tomato sauce and mustard will do the trick, and vegan pesto is always a good standby. Here are some of our favourite recipes.  

Coal-roasted confit cabbage & broccolini with braai pap, romesco sauce, and smoked paprika oil 

by chef Sebastian Stehr, at Beyond Restaurant, Cape Town  

Confit cabbage and broccoli    

Ingredients:  

1 baby cabbage    

10 stems broccolini    

200g butter (smoked for 1 hour)   

100g olive oil    

100g sunflower oil    

2 cloves garlic    

2 sprigs thyme    

1 stick rosemary    

4 peppercorns    

Pinch of salt   

1 small onion, sliced    

Method:  

Cut the cabbage in half and place in a cast-iron pot. Add the rest of the ingredients and cover with a lid. Rest on top of the braai over medium heat. 

Remove the broccolini after 2 minutes to avoid overcooking. Cook the cabbage gently until it is al dente. Remove vegetables from the oil and allow to cool.   

Romesco sauce   

Ingredients:  

1 red pepper, charred on the braai, seeded, and peeled    

2 cloves garlic    

20g grated vegan cheese    

10g chives    

10g chopped parsley    

1 small red onion, chopped    

50ml olive oil    

15ml red-wine vinegar    

50g roasted hazelnuts    

Pinch of salt and pepper    

Method:  

Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth, adjusting consistency with a splash of water if needed. 

Image: Supplied.

Paprika oil   

Method:  

Heat 100ml vegetable oil in a pot and fry some garlic and a tablespoon of smoked paprika to make a deep red oil. Set aside.   

Braai pap   

Ingredients:  

1 onion, chopped    

3 cloves garlic    

2 leaves sage   

1 sprig thyme   

10g salt   

1 litre water with a tablespoon of vegetable stock powder    

250g pap   

Pepper, to taste 

Lemon juice, to taste 

Handful of fresh greens and herbs 

Method  

Fry onion with the garlic and herbs in a medium-sized pot, season with salt, and add the water. Bring to a simmer and whisk in the pap. Cook on low heat until the pap is very stiff, about 45 minutes. The pap should be soft on the palate. Check seasoning and set in a tray in the fridge until firm. Once firm, cut pap into pieces.    

Rub oil onto the pieces of pap. Season with some salt and pepper and place onto the braai rack. Grill on both sides to get a nice crust. Sear the cabbage and broccolini stems. Finish them with a good squeeze of lemon juice and then with your paprika oil.

To assemble

Place everything on a plate with the romesco sauce and the fresh greens and herbs.    

Image: Supplied.

Ginger and herbed corn salad  

by Siba Mtongana, of Food Network’s Siba’s Table   

Salad 

Ingredients:  

  • 45ml olive oil 
  • 1 onion, finely chopped 
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
  • 30g fresh ginger, very finely grated 
  • 350g mushrooms, thinly sliced 
  • 1 red pepper, diced 
  • 1 green pepper, diced 
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced 
  • 6 mealies, cooked 
  • 30ml fresh coriander, chopped 
  • 15ml soy sauce 
  • 2ml freshly ground black pepper 

Dressing  

Ingredients:   

  • 80ml olive oil 
  • 60ml freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • 2ml sugar 
  • 30ml fresh parsley, finely chopped 
  • 15ml fresh coriander, finely chopped 
  • 15ml fresh mint, finely chopped 

Method:  

To make the salad: Heat half the oil in a large frying pan. Sauté the chopped onion for 4 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for 1 minute until fragrant.   

Add the rest of the oil plus the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes until nicely browned. Add the diced peppers and cook for 2 minutes.   

Cut the corn off the cob and add to the pan. Add the coriander. Stir to combine.   

Remove from heat and season with soy sauce and black pepper to taste. Stir in the remaining fresh grated ginger. Allow to cool slightly.   

To make the dressing: In a jug, mix together the dressing ingredients. Whisk until well combined. Drizzle over the salad just before serving.