Best vegan entrees good at room temperature
July 16, 2017 5:51 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to a barbecue, and I expect to be the only vegan there. When I google vegan potlucks, most of the entrees I find seem like they're best served warm. I want to bring something that will be good at room temperature and (a) will give me something to eat, (b) will taste good to omnivores, and (c) is not super labor intensive. Also, I really don't want to draw attention to my diet. Further picky details below.

When I say "entree," I basically mean not dessert, not a dip, not fruit, not a salad (though something that's saladish and super hearty might be OK - no quinoa though). There will be a grill, so if there's something I can bring that won't require much preparation on site (like foil-wrapped corn on the cob I can prep at home), that would be OK. I don't eat fake meat or cheese, fake butter, or coconut oil. I really hate black olives and cold pasta. I've made the vegan spanakopita from Vegan with a Vengeance for a potluck before, but I am not up to that much work right now.

I'm just really frustrated looking for vegan potluck recipes because almost all of the entrees I find seem like they should be served warm. So I'm thinking the hive mind is my best bet.
posted by FencingGal to Food & Drink (34 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
Cole slaw and potato salad are standard fare for barbecues.

If you want to throw something on the grill, get some portobellos, pull out the stems, and marinate them with some garlic, soy sauce, liquid smoke, olive oil, and whatever else sounds good. Pour the extra marinade into the "cups" of the mushrooms on the grill.
posted by adamrice at 6:06 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

Do you consider cashew spread to be "fake cheese"? The homemade stuff is really good I find (speaking as a meat eater) and I recently had these vegan sandwiches with cashew spread "cheese" to be excellent.
posted by Karaage at 6:07 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]

Texas caviar works well at a barbecue, if that's not too close to a salad for you. With some corn chips it's hearty enough for a meal.
posted by peeedro at 6:08 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]

I don't know if you'd call this a salad, but you can just dump in a bowl:

- can of beans
- can of tomatoes
- bag of corn
- diced avocado
- diced onion
- minced garlic
- splash of oil (optional)
- chopped cilantro (optional)
- salt (optional, it's in the canned foods)

Mix, put in container, and call it a dish.
posted by aniola at 6:10 PM on July 16 [8 favorites]

Stuffed bell peppers are also pretty commonplace, can be grilled, fill with whatever you please.
posted by aniola at 6:10 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]

Some kind of big crunchy bean and garden salad situation maybe? I'm thinking marinated chickpeas and kidney beans, cucumber, the best tomatoes you can find, thin slivers of sweet onion, parboiled green beans, fresh corn, dressed with lots of fresh herbs and the tastiest vinegar and oil you've got. Very attractive to omnivores, takes advantage of the season/occasion, varying levels of difficulty and complexity depending on what you want to focus on, supposed to be chilled or room temp. Salt the cucumbers and tomatoes and let them sit for an hour and drain well before tossing with everything else so it doesn't get soggy.

If you can get good avocados, a big mess of guacamole will be happily devoured by all, bring some packets of small corn tortillas and toss them on the grill to heat and make yourself fresh guacamole tostadas. (Bring corn chips too, of course.)

If you're cool with vegan mayo a lot of the sides like coleslaw and potato salad (on preview, noted above) are yummy and simple to make and can be loaded with interesting flavors, but if you want you can go no faux mayo and stick to vinegar based potato salads (these often have bacon in the recipe, try adding smoked paprika) and citrus marinated coleslaw. I love a cabbage salad with lime, cilantro, radish, grilled corn and big chunks of avocado, so delicious.
posted by Mizu at 6:10 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]

This grilled veggies couscous salad might work, if you make the dressing and couscous beforehand and prep the veggies to go on the grill, then toss it all together.

Warning: gratuitous curse words
posted by bunderful at 6:27 PM on July 16

Yes, an amazing, vinegary bean salad is a great way to go. It's one of those delicious foods that everyone can enjoy and it doesn't call attention to its vegan-ness.
posted by delight at 6:33 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

Cole slaw and potato salad are standard fare for barbecues.…

… and could be made with vegan mayo, which is available at Whole Foods.

Quinoa tabbouleh.

The OP said: "no quinoa."
posted by John Cohen at 6:49 PM on July 16

I've made sweet potato and black bean enchiladas and they are very good at room temp. My recipe ends up with them covered in salsa and cheese and baked but If you roll them and fry them in a bit of oil to seal, you could wrap in tinfoil and reheat on BBQ.
posted by Ftsqg at 6:59 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]

I know you said you hate cold pasta. . .but do cold soba noodles count? Because if you're ok with that, I'd make something like this or this (and obviously sub agave for the honey and just leave out the chicken). This butternut squash and chickpea dish is good at lukewarm/room temp.
posted by katie at 7:03 PM on July 16

Sort of a similar concept to bunderful's above, probably my favorite dish to take to vegan-populated pot-lucks is Moroccan Curried Couscous Salad. Sub veggie broth for the chicken of course, otherwise it will work as is. But a few more personal preference subs... I much prefer the nuttier flavor of bulgar to couscous, though you might need to simmer for a bit rather than just soak ; for more of a main dish, you can replace the almonds with a suitable amount of garbanzo beans (or just add) ; and I also prefer cucumber slices to romaine. Oh, and I've found the amount of oil called for in the dressing is at least somewhat more than needed. Very flexible and always very tasty!
posted by ClingClang at 7:05 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

I bet a good egg plant based ratatouille would be very appealing to omnivores at a barbecue.
posted by jamjam at 7:11 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

We had a hangout/cookout with our downstairs friends earlier today and they made this fantastic lentil potato salad, which is perfect at room temperature. It's a mustardy vinaigrette, not a mayo-based dressing. Does involve some chopping of things, but wow is the outcome worth it. (I am not vegan or vegetarian and I would happily eat this and only this at any given cookout if necessary.)
posted by rtha at 7:18 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]

black bean burgers

These black bean burgers can be made ahead of time and thrown on the grill! They're super tasty, vegan, and won't call too much attention to your diet. I make them about once a week in the summer.
posted by brynna at 7:45 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]

katie: This butternut squash and chickpea dish is good at lukewarm/room temp.

I'll also add a recommendation for these takeout-style sesame noodles. I hear you about cold pasta, but these are delicious noodles. I've made the recipe day-of as well as the night before (then refrigerated) and they did just fine.
posted by Mr Yak at 7:54 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

This black bean, corn, and red pepper salad is my go-to -- it's quick to prep and delicious for vegans and non-vegans alike. And, even if you can't find anything else to eat at the BBQ, it's still a fair approximation of a meal all by itself. To make it easier, you can use frozen corn (straight out of the freezer -- it'll thaw by the time you get to your BBQ), and/or omit the avocados (they're delicious, but if you don't have any ripe ones handy, you can leave 'em out). I also often omit the cilantro when I'm bringing it to a party (since many folks don't like it).
posted by ourobouros at 8:05 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]

I forgot to mention that I'm not vegan. I'm a full-blown carnivore and I make those black beans burgers once a week. Great for sharing with everyone at the BBQ!
posted by brynna at 8:08 PM on July 16

Turkish-style vegetables braised in olive oil are excellent at room temperature. Imam Bayildi is probably the most famous, but you can cook other vegetables like zucchini or green beans in a similar way.
posted by Daily Alice at 8:08 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

I guess technically these should be warm, but what most cookouts are completely lacking is really good homemade baked beans, which do not need pork if you do it right. But you have to home-make your beans, tons and tons of flavor in the cooking liquid.

Vegan mayo makes potato salad and cole slaw super easy.

I recently had a veg*n summer party and the one thing that got completely consumed was guacamole. The friend who brought it even made it half with cilantro and half without, for the haters.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:09 PM on July 16

Tabouli salad and humus are delicious and vegan!
posted by morchella at 9:07 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

I love this Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad from Mark Bittman. It's great at room temp, keeps well in the fridge, and is hearty enough to be a standalone meal.
posted by soleiluna at 10:01 PM on July 16

From my cousin, who is a vegan:

Carrot dogs.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 10:06 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

Baked beans? I think it's a good barbecue dish. I'm a lazy vegetarian so that would appeal to me.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:02 PM on July 16

Personally, I love marinated and grilled portabellos for BBQs. Also grilled corn on the cob with some salt and pepper.
Also sliced big fat juicy heirloom-quality tomatoes with pepper, salt, and basil leaves, and maybe some very thin sliced cucumber. It's the most delicious summer salad. Add a glass of fresh-squeezed lemonade or cucumber water (or cucumber gin...) and you'll end up with me inviting myself to this BBQ, too.

Qualifications: Omnivore.
posted by cnidaria at 11:58 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

Marinated and grilled vegetables are delicious: from home bring a tupperware container filled with 1/2-inch slices of eggplant and zucchini marinated in olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper - maybe a touch of chili. I'd make the marinade in the container, fill up 2/3 with the vegetable slices, put on the lid and shake well. Then at the barbecue, you just grill these alongside the meat. If you like, you can sprinkle them with a little more lemon juice, chopped tomatoes and parsley and/or mint when you arrange them for the buffet, but they are delicious as they are. I make this very often as a main course even though we eat meat at our house, supplemented with bread and salad(s). Even children who are skeptical of vegetables often enjoy this.
This time of year, when the potatoes are new, I enjoy a vinaigrette-based potato salad and just the other day I made one with fresh sweet peas and dill which disappeared within minutes of serving. Just potatoes and peas dressed with a mustardy vinaigrette, and sprinkled liberally with dill right before serving.
If you bring both those things, you'll have a proper meal for you, and also make the omnivores very happy.
Another great simple, fast and filling option is a lentil salad. I like to add a little bit of chopped raw red onion, for contrast. If you can get Bonduelles canned lentils, they are almost as good as home cooked and even simpler to prepare (no other brands have the same crunchy deliciousness). IMO, a lentil salad goes very well with most barbecue foods.
posted by mumimor at 3:22 AM on July 17

The Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special has a wonderful, hearty salad with bulgar, walnuts, grapes, cucumber, and red pepper. Dressing is olive oil, lemon, cumin and coriander, salt, pepper. I can't find it online but you can probably wing it pretty well.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 3:41 AM on July 17

These are great. Thanks so much. i knew the cooks of MeFi would have my back.

BTW, I'm fine with homemade cheese things like the cashew cheese above. I just don't eat the commercial fake cheeses. And I don't normally keep vegan mayo in the house, but I'm willing to use it for something like this.
posted by FencingGal at 3:50 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]

Edamame. So simple, so yummy, so full of protein, and I've heard it referred to as "Japanese bar nuts".
posted by amtho at 3:54 AM on July 17

For hors d'oeuvres cut quinoa wraps into circles and toast in muffin trays to give them shape. Fill with caramelised onion and mushrooms and top with sweet chili sauce. They taste great at room temperature. Some toasted pine-nuts on top give them crunch! These are also easy to make gluten free.
posted by h00py at 6:11 AM on July 17

I have made these vegan lentil sloppy joes before for picnics, and they do well not hot. SO tasty, and very easy to adjust the spice. Tasty enough that omnivores like it a lot, and very hearty as a meal.

Also, this Bloody Mary tomato salad is one of my favorite summer salads. You don't need to worry too much about it being at room temp, and it is SO savory and good. And it really works well with tweaking. We use pickled green beans instead of celery, and adjust the spices and Worcestershire to taste (aka, add a lot more).
posted by bibliogrrl at 7:28 AM on July 17

A little late but I just made this lentil salad today for lunch and it's fantastic. Just leave out the burrata and you're set!
posted by raccoon409 at 9:42 AM on July 17

My husband regularly makes a version of farinata for picnics and barbecues. He started out with this recipe but it's tended to be thicker the more often he's made it, and he'll often add sun-dried tomatoes or thinly sliced potatoes.

EVERYONE scarfs it down then asks for the recipe, and it's as good cold as hot.
posted by cardinalandcrow at 2:21 PM on July 17

I love baked her by polenta (bake until edges get golden brown) topped with an onion, tomato, chickpea and smoked paprika sauce. I bet you could even grill the slabs of polenta if you wanted though i have never tried it.

Another vote for boiled potatoes with mustard and dill. So delicious.
posted by kadia_a at 2:35 PM on July 17

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