Vegetarian Southern BBQ Sides

Rhubarb & Cod - Vegetarian Southern BBQ Sides

corn1I will forgive you if the title Vegetarian Southern BBQ Sides has you laughing at your computer. I get it! Vegetables at a proper Southern BBQ is a rare occurrence and when they do show up they’re usually cuddled-up with some  form of pig product. To some, my vegetarian Southern BBQ sides will be a form of blasphemy and for that I apologize – I don’t mean to blaspheme in your direction – but in my defense these recipes were born of necessity.

Rhubarb & Cod - Vegetarian Southern BBQ Sides - Fresh collard greens.

It should by now be painfully obvious that I am not a vegetarian (this steak-topped salad is your first clue), but I do however associate with vegetarians and, call me crazy, I quite like ‘em. And when I like someone I like to feed them. At this point you’re probably thinking “Why the hell didn’t you abandon the whole Southern BBQ thing if you knew you were entertaining vegetarians” and yes that makes so much sense I could cry, but when you live with guy whose step father used to smoke large pieces of meat competitively, you can’t just abandon the Southern BBQ thing – it’s my boy’s summertime sport.

Rhubarb & Cod - Vegetarian Southern BBQ Sides - Gooey cheese sauce for the Apple Pie Mac & Cheese

My beau and I love hosting these full-blown BBQ affairs, complete with all the mainstays: dirty rice, collard greens, mac and cheese, corn bread – you know, the works. These events are universally enjoyed by our friends and we have no desire to leave any of them out just because they aren’t down with the Boston Butt. So we came up with vegetarian sides that were substantial enough for our veg-head friends to make a meal of them while the rest of us used them to supplement our plates of smoked chicken and brisket. Really these recipes were born out of my insane need to cram everyone I’ve ever known and liked into my backyard and feed them until they beg for mercy. Forgive me Southern BBQ-purists, I am the victim of a rare (and utterly ridiculous) addiction.

Rhubarb & Cod - Vegetarian Southern BBQ Sides - Chili Lime Corn

Now, that we’ve reach the end of my lengthy and exceptionally defensive (Susan, take it down a notch) blog post we can get to the recipes. The “Apple Pie” Mac and Cheese is a nod to the whole “apple pie + slab of cheddar cheese = love”  equation. I used an Irish cheddar in the mac and cheese, because that’s what I always put on my pie, but it is not imperative that you track down a regionally specific cheese – just a nice sharp cheddar will do. But I am going to have to be insistent about the Lillet Blanc in the collards. This was my beau’s idea and man, it is beyond delicious; I did not miss the ham hocks at all.

Rhubarb & Cod - Vegetarian Southern BBQ Sides - Apple Pie Mac & Cheese Recipe

To me, corn will have a place at every backyard party because corn is the taste of summer and you can’t argue with that. I was fairly simple with the seasoning of my grilled corn. I just slathered the suckers in olive oil and lime juice and coated them in a simple spice-mix of ground cumin, ancho chili powder, and salt. Toss the corn on the grill when everything is pretty much done, they should take more than a few minutes a side.

Rhubarb & Cod - Vegetarian Southern BBQ Sides

Is it still a BBQ without the meat? I say, heck yeah! Milk the last bit of summer and make your favourite vegetarian feel the love with these Vegetarian Southern BBQ Sides.

Enjoy my veg-loving friends!


Vegetarian Southern BBQ Sides

Serving Size: Feeds an Army


    ‘Apple Pie’ Mac & Cheese
  • 450 grams uncooked dried elbow macaroni
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 5 cups 2% milk
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella (divided), grated
  • 1 cup aged cheddar, grated
  • 1 cup fontina, grated
  • 3/4 cup goat cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • For the Crumble:
  • 1 sleeve (112.5 grams) of saltines
  • 1 bag (71 grams) unflavoured apple chips
  • 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Lillet Blanc Collard Greens
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 lbs (900 grams) collard greens
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Lillet Blanc
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • Chili Lime Grilled Corn
  • 5 ears of corn, husks removed, split in two
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons ancho chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of one lime


    For the ‘Apple Pie’ Mac & Cheese:
  1. Preheat oven to 400?F.
  2. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain, rinse, toss with a little oil and set aside.
  3. In a large dutch oven melt butter over medium heat until frothy. Add flour, a tablespoon at a time, whisking to form a roux.
  4. Continue to cook the roux until it begins to brown. Add wine and whisk to combine.
  5. Slowly add the milk to the flour, butter and wine mixture, whisking constantly until all the milk is incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
  6. Increase heat to bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and add all the cheese to the sauce with the exception of 1/2 cup of the mozzarella. Stir the sauce until the cheese melts and is completely integrated.
  7. Add mustard powder, salt and nutmeg to the sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.
  8. Turn off the heat and add the macaroni to the sauce. Stir until the pasta is completely coated.
  9. Pour mac & cheese into a 9x13-inch greased casserole pan and set aside.
  10. Toss all of the crumble ingredients into a food processor. Blend until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
  11. Sprinkle the crumble on top of the mac and cheese, followed by the remaining mozzarella.
  12. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the crumble is browned and the sauce is bubbling. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
  13. For the Lillet Blanc Collard Greens:
  14. In a large dutch oven, bring 8 cups of water to a boil.
  15. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, remove the stems, thoroughly wash and roughly chop the collard greens.
  16. When the water boils, add salt and collard greens to the water. Boil greens for seven minutes or until tender.
  17. Drain the greens. Gathern the greens in your hands to wring out the excess liquid. Place the greens on a plate lined with paper towel and set aside.
  18. Heat a large oiled frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until just translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the drained greens to the frying pan and stir to combine.
  19. Pour Lillet Blanc over the greens mixture and toss to coat. Cover the frying pan and let cook until the greens are heated through. If there is any excess liquid, let the greens cook a little longer.
  20. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cider vinegar. Give the greens a quick toss and serve immediately.
  21. For the Chili Lime Grilled Corn:
  22. Using a pastry brush, coat corn with olive oil.
  23. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, and salt.
  24. Sprinkle each ear of corn with chili powder mixture until well coated. Squeeze lime juice over the corn and add a few grinds of freshly ground pepper if desired.
  25. Place corn on a hot grill and cook until the corn begins to blister - about 3 minutes a side.
  26. Remove from heat and serve immediately with a lime wedge.
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