If you’re mystified by how to grill anything beyond hot dogs and burgers, you’re not alone: A lot of us tend to leave grilling to carnivores, sticking to hummus, chips, and potato salad if we don’t eat meat (or know how to grill). So we were pretty thrilled when we got the “BBQ Queens”—Judith Fertig and Karen Adler—new book: “The Gardener & the Grill: The Bounty of the Garden Meets the Sizzle of the Grill,” a collection of grilling tips and recipes that are mostly vegetarian, and all look pretty do-able, even for BBQ novices.
To find out more about their passion for grilling—and how you could develop one of your own—we interviewed Fertig, who shared some of the BBQ Queens’ greatest tips
First of all, I have to ask: How did the BBQ Queens get so into BBQ?
We both love the flavor that the grill imparts to food. We were cooks first, barbecuers second, so we like to take recipes you might make indoors and give them an outdoor spin.
You’ve written other books that are definitely NOT vegetarian–so what inspired you to make a BBQ book that’s almost all about vegetables?
We love the color and flavor of fruits and vegetables. And both of us are flexitarian eaters, meaning that some days or meals, we’re eating meat, eating vegetarian, or even eating vegan. We also both love to garden, so garden to grill was a natural.
A lot of meat-eaters think vegetarians bring boring food to BBQ, and a lot of vegetarians think they can’t eat anything at BBQs. What are the best things you can grill to make BOTH meat eaters and vegetarians happy?
First off, I’d say a grilled vegetable platter with Romesco Sauce or Fresh Basil Vinaigrette and grilled bread, slathered with olive oil first. It’s a little plates way to eat that people really love. Our Grilled Garden Loaf (page 81, filled with pesto, goat cheese, roasted red pepper, and black olives) has a robust flavor. Anything with a little smoke flavor tastes “meaty,” like our Wood-Grilled Spring Onion, Brie, and Kalamata Olive Pizza (page 000). You simply pat out and grill small individual pizzas from fresh dough until they get grill marks, then add the toppings and grill until the cheese melts a little. They’re fabulous.
The stereotype is that grilling is for guys, and women make angel food cake or prep a veggie platter. But you guys certainly prove that it doesn’t have to be like that. Are you big advocates of getting more women to grill?
Yes! We know lots of women who grill weeknight meals, but then have the guys take over on the weekend. So, just have the guys throw on a few more vegetables, fruits, or herbs from our book!
We also picked Judith’s brain for easy ways to grill better—whether you’re a carnivore, vegetarian, vegan, or anything else. Here are her best tips:
Photo: Vegetarian Foodie