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Summer BBQ Recipes from Laura Theodore, Host of 'Jazzy Vegetarian'

Laura Theodore, host of “Jazzy Vegetarian”

Joe Orecchio

It’s barbecue time! This time of year the fresh tastes of summer are beautifully showcased in this easy, breezy and delicious barbeque menu. Whether you are grilling outdoors or cooking up a “BBQ style” meal in your kitchen, this menu evokes the flavors of classic grilling recipes.

I like to build the bill of fare for a summer barbeque around foods found at my local farmers market. If firing up the grill is part of your summertime fun, consider grilling with propane, natural gas or non-toxic natural charcoal, rather than burning with wood or petroleum-based charcoal.  

Since we “eat first with our eyes,” I like to cover my simple summer party table with a washable fabric tablecloth decorated in a colorful floral pattern. I set the table with reusable dishware that can be washed, rather than depending upon the disposable variety.

The center of my festive table often features a large bunch of basil, placed in a pretty vase, that I have picked from my garden or purchased at my local farmers market. I then like to place several rechargeable or battery-based votive candles around the table to add a touch of elegance.

So, this summer, your barbecue can be healthy, easy-to-prepare and eco-friendly, but most of all, Jazzylicious!


Andy Ebberbach

Jazzy Tofu and Sweet Pepper Shish Kebab


This jazzy shish kebab will satisfy vegans and meat-eaters alike. I have served this summer staple countless times to rave reviews from family and friends. The colorful and impressive presentation is sure to add a festive touch to your BBQ meal. To make it super easy, you can use your favorite vegan BBQ sauce or whip up my tasty version included below. I love to serve the shish kebabs over quinoa (recipe follows) as an extra pop of flavor.

1 cup organic ketchup
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon tamari
1/3 cup molasses
2 heaping teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/16 to 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
10 metal or bamboo skewers
1 ½  blocks firm or extra firm tofu, pressed and drained (see NOTE)
3 sweet peppers, seeded and cut in 1 ½-inch pieces (orange, red and/or yellow are nice)
2 medium sweet onions, cut into chunks
2 medium zucchini, cut into ½-inch thick slices
16 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
10 cherry tomatoes

Place the sauce ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk until the sauce is smooth.

Place the drained tofu onto a cutting board and carefully slice it into 36 uniform size cubes. Spoon the tofu into a large bowl and top it with ¼ cup of the sauce. Carefully toss the tofu to coat each cube with some of the sauce. Toss carefully, as to not break the tofu cubes. Cover and chill at least 1 hour, or up to 2 hours, to marry the flavors.

Place the peppers, sweet onions, zucchini, mushrooms and tomatoes into a large bowl. Top with ¾ cup of the sauce (leaving about ½ cup in reserve) and toss to coat each veggie piece with the sauce. Cover and chill at least 1 hour, or up to 2 hours, to marry the flavors.

Prepare two metal or bamboo skewers for each person. If you are using bamboo skewers, place them in a pan and cover them with filtered or spring water. Let the skewers soak in the water for at least 30 minutes prior to assembling the kebabs, in order to prevent them from burning.

Cover two medium or one extra large baking sheet with foil or unbleached parchment paper.

1 to 2 hours before cooking the shish kebabs, take the ingredients out of the refrigerator and carefully thread the veggies and tofu onto your skewers in the following order:


Place the kebabs on the prepared baking sheets. If you are not baking or grilling them immediately, place the sheets back into the refrigerator until cooking.

For grilling:
Place the kebabs on the grill. Grill the kebabs over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the veggies are crisp-tender and the tofu is slightly crisp and golden in color.

For oven:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Leave the kebabs on the baking sheets and place into the preheated oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the veggies are crisp-tender and the tofu is slightly crisp and golden in color.

Serve immediately over quinoa or brown rice.

NOTE: It is necessary to use firm or extra-firm tofu for the shish kebab. Extra firm is preferable. (Medium or soft tofu will break apart while cooking.) It is important to drain the tofu well before tossing with the sauce, so it will properly absorb the BBQ sauce. Here is an easy way to drain tofu:

- Place a large colander into your sink.
- Place the block of tofu into the colander.
- Press down lightly with your hands to release excess water.
- Place a medium-size plate on top of the tofu.
- Place an unopened can of soup or beans on top of the plate to weigh it down.
- Let set for 15 to 30 minutes. This will allow a good deal of water to drain from the tofu.
- Remove the can and the plate and your tofu is ready to use in any recipe.


Andy Ebberbach

Easy Black Bean Casserole


This tasty and economical bean dish just may be the easiest casserole you’ll ever make! As a side dish, it stands in perfectly for traditional baked beans, but it can shine on its own too, as a one-pot weeknight meal to serve anytime of the year. The best part is, there are only five ingredients in this delicious recipe, so you can whip it up in a flash!

2 cans (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup prepared vegan marinara
1 sweet onion, chopped
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place all the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Pour into a medium casserole dish. Cover and bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.


Andy Ebberbach

Snazzy Quinoa


This summer, think about serving your Shish Kebab over quinoa instead of rice. A nutritional powerhouse, quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is technically the seed of an herbaceous flowering plant, not a cereal grass, but its texture, flavor and uses echo those of many true grains, so it’s generally thought of as a grain.

Quinoa is quick to prepare, cooking in about 15 minutes, but it must be rinsed well before cooking. Rinse your quinoa by placing it into a large bowl, covering with cold water, swishing it around with your hands, then draining it in a screened colander. Once the quinoa is placed in the screened colander, run cold water over the quinoa for about 15 seconds. Drain and then continue with your recipe.

Here is my favorite way to prepare quinoa as a side dish.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed very well and drained                                             
2 cups filtered or spring water                                                                                   
1 vegetable bouillon cube, crumbled                                            

Place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cover. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue to simmer for 15 to 17 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Cover again and remove from heat. Let the quinoa sit for 5 to 7 minutes and serve!


Andy Ebberbach

Carrot and Maple Walnut Salad


This delectable salad is both crunchy and sweet, making an ideal complement to your BBQ menu. You can make this salad well ahead of time, which makes it the perfect choice to serve at any summertime party. The beautiful colors offer a festive presentation, with little effort and time to prepare.

1 ¼ cups grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup raisins
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Combine all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Chill 2 to 4 hours and serve.


Andy Ebberbach

Chunky Peanut Butter Fudge Squares


Yummy, yum, yum, I love some peanut butter fudge in my tum! Here’s a treat that will surely satisfy your summer sweet tooth. Although this fudge is a rich confection and fills the bill when a decadent dessert is called for, it’s full of healthful ingredients, making it a fun indulgence for kids and adults alike.

3⁄4 cup chunky peanut butter
1⁄3 cup maple syrup
3 1/2  ounces vegan dark chocolate bar, cut into small pieces (candy bar, not baking chocolate)
1⁄3 cup salted roasted sunflower seeds
1⁄4 cup raisins

Lightly coat an 8-inch square baking pan with vegan margarine. Put the peanut butter and maple syrup in a large bowl and stir vigorously until well combined.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium-low heat. Pour the chocolate into the peanut butter mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Fold in the sunflower seeds and raisins. Transfer to the prepared pan. Spread in an even layer and smooth the top. Score the surface at 2-inch intervals with a table knife; this will make it easier to cut the fudge after it has set.

Cover with foil and refrigerate until firm enough that the fudge holds its shape when cut, about 2 hours. Serve chilled. Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the fudge will keep for about 4 days. (But you probably will not have leftovers!)

Laura Theodore is the host of Jazzy Vegetarian, which airs Tuesdays at 12:30 pm on OPB TV. The new season begins on Tuesday, July 3rd.