Even Barbie Ken be Vegan

A certain someone got me a Big Green Egg Barbecue for my 30th birthday... something I had been coveting for years after a friend of mine had gotten one. I am a huge fan of barbecues, generally burning food, and slow cooking. So it's literally my cooking dream. Since I got it we haven't cooked meat indoors at home at all, and now we aren't cooking it period.

This year in particular meat is off the menu in our house and we have naturally gravitated towards a fully vegetarian and often vegan diet. I think it's mainly herd mentality (forgive the pun, although I'm not sorry) that leads us to automatically associate a barbecue with meat - I am guilty of the same judgement. But now that I apparently don't really want to eat meat, and I have this amazing contraption - I have a whole new world of barbecue fun to explore. 

For our very first barbecue of 2018, I thought we'd go full-on vegan to set the tone for the rest of the year's fire-based cookery. We had a couple of perfectly ripe yellow plantain that we had been saving for the BGE (big green egg) as well as some of our yummy baked beans knocking around in the freezer. All that was left was to raid this week's Oddbox and cook up something tasty! We ended up with barbecued plantain, smoked tomatoes stuffed with baked beans and a tomato seed salsa (in the spirit of zero waste - why throw away something tasty!?) which we also had with some simply dressed avocado. Standard.

We used the BGE with a small bowlful of pecan chips, organic, sustainable and local lumpwood charcoal and some natural / chemical free firelighters. I also used the convection plate upright and set the temperature to around 250C. Both the plantains and tomatoes took about half an hour to cook once at temperature so it's pretty quick and requires little attention once you've prepped it all and slung it on the grill.

The plantains require very little help - I think they're best cooked whole on the barbie, in their skins. So all you need to do is slit along the length of the skin on the inside of the bend so that there is somewhere for the steam to escape as they cook. They'll burst out of the skin (which will go black) and start to bubble at the ends and go lovely and squishy once they're cooked. All that's required then is to unleash them from their skins and sprinkle over a nice pinch of flaked sea salt.

For the tomatoes - I took some large ripe vine tomatoes, sliced off the top and hollowed them out by scooping out (and keeping) the seeds with a spoon. Then it was just a case of a crack of salt and pepper, then stuffing them with the baked beans. The real flash of inspiration here was the decision to liberally cover the top with some chunky sourdough breadcrumbs. These then went on a foil lined baking dish onto the barbecue with the plantain, for the same amount of time.

Other than some sliced avocado with lime and salt, the only other thing we had to complete this blinder of a meal was a tomato seed salsa. I simply finley chopped a red onion, a small bunch of coriander (stalks and all) and a jalapeño chilli (seeds and all - I like it spicy as you know!) and mixed these with the tomato seeds. It just needed a squeeze of lime and a pinch of salt to finish off. 

We spent the entire mealtime alternating between scoffs of food and scoffs of disbelief that we were eating a vegan barbecue that, frankly, tasted so bloody awesome.