5 Recipes for an Ayurvedic Summer BBQ
Ah, summertime—for many of us, this season is synonymous with backyard cookouts and barbecues, when we can enjoy the heat and the lingering light well into the evenings.
If thinking of grill season makes you picture packaged hotdogs, hamburgers, and other kinds of meat, I’m here to share the news that the barbecue doesn’t have to be ruled by meat alone—it can be a fantastic way to cook vegetables. And cooking on the barbecue can even be Ayurvedic.
These recipes honor the American tradition of firing up the grill—but with an Ayurvedic twist (plus they’re all vegetarian). Created with both balance and flavor in mind, the end result is real food that satisfies your taste buds and nourishes your body. Talk about a perfect way to make the most of barbecue season!
I’m excited to share a few of my favorite summer recipes including grilled corn with cilantro-mint pesto, grilled zucchini and fennel skewers, sweet navy beans, lentil loaf “burgers,” and an Ayurveda-inspired barbecue sauce. Yum! Enjoy one or two recipes at a time, or cook them all at once for a summer feast. Either way, your belly will thank you.
Grilled Corn with Cilantro-Mint Pesto
A fun spin on a classic summer cook-out favorite, the pesto really makes this recipe. The cilantro-mint pesto has cooling ingredients that counter the natural heat that builds in summer as well as the heat from cooking on an open flame, making it especially balancing for pitta. Admittedly, I slather this pesto on everything, not just the corn.
For the corn:
For the pesto:
- ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked
- ⅔ cup sunflower oil
- 1 cup cilantro
- 1 cup mint
- 3 tablespoons lime juice and 1 tablespoon zest
- 2 green onions
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- Pinch of salt, to taste
Shuck the corn and rub with oil, sprinkle with salt. Place directly on the grill or under the broiler for 5–7 minutes total, rolling occasionally to evenly cook. Serve with 1–2 tablespoons of cilantro-mint pesto.
For the pesto:
Soak the sunflower seeds using a quick-soak method by pouring boiling water over them and soak for 30 minutes. Blend all pesto ingredients together and add salt to taste.
Grilled Zucchini and Fennel Root Skewers
The juiciness of the zucchini and the sweet, slightly spicy taste of the fennel together make a great combo and provide balance for vata, while the coriander helps to cool the dish. For a less warming recipe and to make it more balancing for pitta, sub the mustard for lime juice or leave it out.
- 2 medium to large zucchini or summer squash (yellow, crookneck, or patty pan)
- 2 fennel roots
- 3 tablespoons ghee
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Salt, to taste
Heat the ghee until melted in a sauce pan, add the salt and coriander. When the aroma lifts, take the pan off the heat and whisk in the mustard. Set aside.
Roughly chop the zucchini into 1½-inch cubes and slice the fennel into wedges, following the length of the root (base to top), which will create layered wedges.
Toss the vegetables in the spiced ghee. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes–1 hour.
Skewer, alternating between zucchini and fennel. Roast on the grill for 7–10 minutes rotating halfway through. When the color of the zucchini shifts to a vibrant green and the whites of the fennel become lightly translucent with some charring, the skewers are done.
Sweet Navy Beans
This is a delightful (and vegetarian) twist on baked beans! Beans can be more challenging to digest, particularly for vata. However, the addition of the digestive spice blend hingvastak, the sour of the lime, and the moist and oily qualities of the ghee and sunflower oil all work together to enhance the digestibility of the navy beans.
I love to make a large batch of these and use them in veggie wraps, as a base for hummus with roasted vegetables, or served alongside the recipes here.
- 1 cup dried navy beans (white beans) / 2 cups soaked, rinsed, and drained
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon hingvastak
- 1 lime wedge
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- ½ teaspoon tamari
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- ½ cup fresh parsley
Soak the beans overnight for best digestibility. Drain and rinse. If you’re using canned beans, simply rinse and drain.
In a medium sauce pan, melt the ghee, then add the salt and hingvastak. When the aroma lifts (less than 1 minute), add the rinsed and drained beans. Add enough water to just cover the beans (you may need to add more later, which is fine!), glug in the sunflower oil, and add the lime wedge. Simmer on low for 55–60 minutes, adding water as needed.
The beans will be soft throughout when done. You can also test doneness by removing one and blowing on it—the skin will curl back when it’s ready. Drain and remove from heat. Add the tamari, maple syrup, fresh parsley, and lime juice. Toss and add salt to taste, if needed.
Lentil Loaf “Burger”
Hearty enough to leave you satisfied, these “burgers” are mixed with a variety of ingredients, including barley (cooling for pitta), celery, and either carrots or beets (choose your favorite!). It also includes digestive spices and herbs like cumin, black pepper, salt, and parsley.
I love eating these with a salad wrap, and smothered in the Ayurveda-inspired barbecue sauce, or even crumbled up with roasted or grilled veggies for a grilled veggie bowl. The pesto mentioned earlier is also delicious on the burgers.
- ½ cup dry green lentils
- ¾ cup barley
- 1 ½ cups water (for soaking and cooking)
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 2 teaspoons sea salt (try smoked sea salt for extra oomph)
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 green onions
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 large carrot OR 2 medium beets
- 1 cup oats
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 1 egg OR 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar OR lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Soak the lentils and barley separately in water for at least an hour before cooking. Bring the barley and water to a simmer, and cook for 25 minutes, then add the lentils and cook an additional 20 minutes or until tender. Drain, rinse under cool water, and set aside.
In a pan, heat the ghee and add the spices (salt, pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, and cayenne) until the aroma lifts. Remove from heat and set aside.
Roughly chop the carrots or beets, green onion, and celery. In a food processor, add the chopped vegetables, spiced ghee, tamari sauce, nutritional yeast, parsley, maple syrup, and lemon juice. Pulse a few times until medium chopped. Add the oats, cooled lentils, barley, and the egg or flaxseed. Pulse until it is combined and sticks together but isn’t pulverized.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form into patties about ¾-inch thick, and 3 ½–4 inches in diameter. This recipe should make about 6–8. Now you’re ready to cook!
After lightly greasing with sunflower oil or ghee, heat a cast iron skillet on the grill. Cook the lentil patties for about 10 minutes on each side, 20 minutes total. In the last 5 minutes, baste the top with Ayurveda-inspired barbecue sauce (see below).
Serve with a bun with your favorite toppings or in a collard green wrap for a lighter meal!
Ayurveda-Inspired Barbecue Sauce
Tamarind and orange peel make this sauce unique. Using the orange peel is less heating than using orange juice because the peel is slightly bitter. Tamarind is astringent and has a complex sweet-tart flavor.
This sauce isn't relegated to just the lentil burger (though it's delicious!). The sweet navy beans also taste amazing with a little spoonful of this sauce, or add to sautéed vegetables and rice, on a portobello mushroom before grilling, or even as a base for an Ayurvedic pizza.
- 2 tablespoons sunflower or olive oil
- ½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
- 1–2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- ¼ cup tamarind paste
- 2 tablespoons vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons tamari
- ¼ cup maple syrup
Heat the oil. Add the salt and brown mustard seeds and cook until the seeds pop, then add the ginger. Cook until the aroma lifts. Remove from heat. Add all ingredients to a blender, puree, and enjoy! This sauce keeps for about one week in the refrigerator.
Complete Your Cookout
If you want to have a full-on feast, you’ll need drinks and dessert! Check out these recipes for inspiration: