Fake meat products have come a long way in recent years, but vegetarians still have nowhere near the number of grilling options as their carnivorous friends. Grilled vegetables are fun, but they have always felt more like a side to me, particularly when juxtaposed with something like a rack of ribs. For a filling, satisfying, indulgent vegetarian grilled meal, reach for cheese.
I have eaten a lot of veggie burgers in my day.
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Obviously, not just any cheese will do, as most will melt and fall right through the grates, creating a warranty-voiding mess on, around, and inside your grill. For outdoor cooking, you need something nice and firm, like halloumi, bread cheese, or paneer. These squeaky bois warm without melting, making them ideal for grilling (or, if you’re stuck indoors, pan-frying).
Each cheese brings different things to the table, which is why you should probably buy all three. Paneer is a fresh, un-aged, mild cheese that soaks up whatever flavor you throw at it. You can coat it with a rub or marinate it before cooking, or you can simply finish it with really good olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and flaky salt. Halloumi comes packing a bit more flavor. The brined goat and sheep’s milk cheese is pretty salty, which means you really don’t have to do anything besides cook it (and maybe drizzle it with honey). Bread cheese is by far the hardest to find, so if you see it, grab it. It’s hard to miss-look for a cheese with browned spots; that’s how you know it’s been baked. Flavor-wise, bread cheese falls in between the other two. It’s mildly salty and toasty, kind of like baked mozzarella, if mozzarella would keep its shape during baking.
All three can be grilled in planks or strips, or cut into cubes and grilled on skewers. If the thought of throwing cheese on the grill makes you nervous, try it in a non-stick pan first, or pop it in the freezer for half an hour before grilling (and make sure to oil your grates). Once grilled, slide it into sandwiches, stuff it into taco shells, or-in the case of skewers-eat it straight off the stick.