The warm weather is really here, hopefully to stay. One of the joys of warm weather is eating alfresco, particularly a meal cooked on the grill.  Since I have spent my whole adult life (until recently) as a vegetarian, I know how the typical BBQ options go.

I’m in the midst of administering state tests to my students, so I will present the multiple choices to you…

a. Pile up your plate with cole slaw , stick a pickle between a hamburger bun, and get a slice of pizza on your way home.  

b. Gnaw on a hockey-puck style store-bought veggie burger dished up by some well intentioned but carnivorous grill master. 

c. Fill up on beverages.

The following two sandwiches are sure to make a vegetarian feel more welcomed at your next BBQ. Both of these can also be made in the oven. I have no pictures because they got eaten too quickly. Hopefully next time I’ll snap a photo in time. 

BBQ Portobello Burger with Bell Pepper, Mozzarella, and Caramelized Onions

You can make the caramelized onions the day or two before, and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge. The recipe below makes 4 burgers. 


  • 2 medium onions
  • 4 portobello mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed, gills scraped off with a spoon
  • your favorite BBQ sauce–enough to cover the mushrooms.
  • mozzarella cheese: enough to have one slice per mushroom.
  • 2 yellow bell peppers
  • olive oil
  • cooking spray
  • salt and pepper


  1. Caramelize onions. 
  2. Heat grill to medium-high.
  3. Place mushrooms in a large shallow dish. Brush both sides with BBQ sauce.
  4. Cut the peppers in half, seed and derib. Brush the peppers with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Put the mushrooms  cap side up on foil sprayed with cooking spray. Grill mushrooms and peppers (peppers direct only grill) over heat for approximately 4 minutes per side. In the last minute of cooking, top mushrooms with cheese. (They should now be cap side down so the cheese will not slide off. Allow peppers to cool before slicing into 2-3 slices.
  6. Assemble burgers:  Layer peppers and onions on top of mushrooms on your favorite rolls.

BBQ-Worthy Bean Burgers

These are delicious plain, or with a slice a cheddar cheese and pickled jalapeños on top. The recipe below makes 4 burgers. 


  • 1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 onion, cut into wedges
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce or hot sauce (I used Sambal Oelek, so my burgers were quite spicy)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs


  1. If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F, and lightly oil a baking sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
  3. In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Then stir into mashed beans.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce.
  5. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.
  6. If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.