They seem to be everywhere these days: vegans and vegetarians. Some of them even look like normal people. If you’re entertaining meatlessly, you might find your options limited if you’ve never learned how to cook without flesh. Most hosts will simply opt for pizza, pasta or risotto, without ever realizing how sick vegetarians must be of being served these Italian staples.
In fact, there are loads of wonderfully tasty and even glamorous vegetarian dishes out there if you understand how to make them. Smoking vegetables might have been the last thing on your mind when you purchased your electric smoker; but it turns out that this is not only possible but highly recommended. Some of the best electric smoker recipes involve vegetables, perhaps to be later worked into a soup or sauce. Putting together a spread of assorted veggies takes a little preparation, but it’s nearly impossible to do badly. It’s also fantastically elegant and healthy, either as a standalone meal served buffet-style, or with the vegetables sliced more finely and served with a selection of dipping sauces.
Ready, Veggie, Go
All of this preparation can be done well beforehand, so planning ahead will probably make your life easier.
Trimming these takes a little practice, so experiment before making a huge batch. Cut off the spiky tips of the outside leaves, cut off the stem and use a paring knife to remove the fibrous “choke” at the base. Steam whole for 20 minutes and rinse.
You can keep these whole for a juicier result. If seeing a seed on your plate gives you conniptions, wide slices are fine too. This isn’t just good as a stand-alone snack or side dish, but can be used to flavor omelets, sauces or what have you.
No need to cook beforehand, but a little marination goes a long way. Salt, pepper and a good vinegar is all that’s required. Slices ¼” (5mm) thick work well, either lengthwise or in round medallions.
An absolute must-try condiment when smoked. Either separate into cloves without peeling (you can squeeze the contents out like toothpaste), or keep the bulb whole while just removing the loose outer skin.
Take your salads to the next level with mushrooms treated right in your electric smoker. Use large varieties, place stem side up, and do season with salt, pepper, herbs and butter. Since their flavor complements meat well, you can add a few of these when preparing any of your best electric smoker recipes.
Another vegetable that goes well with meat, too, just peel, top, bottom and halve. Make a little open bowl for each half out of foil and season with garlic, pepper, salt and butter.
Times and Temperatures
An electric smoker can offer very precise temperature control, but vegetables don’t really need this. Nor will they turn out badly if you should use one kind of wood chips instead of another. The best electric smokers recipes tend to be those where you have a little leeway, in any case. When preparing a batch of several different vegetables, which is what looks best on the dinner table, you won’t be able to tweak conditions for each separate component anyway.
In general 225F (100C) is fine, and how long you need to leave them in there depends on the thickness of the vegetables. Asparagus or bell peppers will be perfect after about 90 minutes, while doing new potatoes from raw can be expected to take two hours or a little more.
Whatever you try, the result is very unlikely to be a disaster. Experiment and have fun!