Every year we celebrate Heritage Day, – braai day to us common folk, and each year a vegans pickings are slim. Except this year seems to be different! Not only has veganism taken over South Africa but it’s allowed small businesses like LeCoquin Foods and Urban Vegan to become readily available to the public and with a great response. Gone are the days of a giant mushroom being the only thing a vegan could contribute to a braai and welcomed are the days of vegan sausages and soy free melting cheese. If that doesn’t make me a happy human, I’m not quite sure what will.
This year, I’ll be entering braai day with my head held high, and a large variety of options at my disposal. Many don’t quite understand the anxiety that comes with being a vegetarian or vegan at a braai. “What do I bring, do I try and feed everyone with my veggie food, would people want it, am I inconveniencing anyone and do they know how to cook it”. Truth is, braai day is meant to celebrate all. It’s a day we all come together in the best way we; as South Africans know how, over the glow of the coals and the promise of food. We celebrate our differences and bond over our similarities. We come together to celebrate one another, as a people and as a nation – and this shouldn’t exclude us non-meat eating folk.
We’ve curated a little list of our favourite braai day extras that we’ll definitely be enjoying this braai day, and thought there would be no better way to share than introducing you to our take on some traditional braai day spreads.
Almost traditional Braai Broodjies
You cannot think of braai’ing and not think of a braai broodjie, it’s just one of those staples. Burning your mouth as you bite into that fresh off the grill braai broodjie is a feeling I’m sure everyone has enjoyed. That moment where you can’t tell if you should take another bite because it’s that good, or do the sensible thing and wait for it to cool down. Your mom, like mine probably told you the latter and if you were anything like me, you ignored her and carried on singing off your taste buds just so you could enjoy the gooeyness of warm melted cheese.
I might not be a vegan as yet, but that has a lot to do with my love of cheese. It’s had my heart since I was a kid, and hasn’t let go. Until recently I thought melting the vegan cheese without using soy product was completely unheard of. But that was until I had a quick chat with Jessy – from Jessy’s Waffles, and she introduced me to LeCoquin cheese. Their products are 100% dairy, soy, and nut free while still using the most natural ingredients possible. This has changed everything if I’m being honest. As someone who is still able to sample cheese on the regular, I can say with surety that LeCoquins cheese comes incredibly close to the real thing.
I know we all have our own little tricks for making the perfect braai broodjie, but I’ve found the simple and traditional way is still the best. Add a little olive oil to the outside of your bread, layer some cheese, red onion and tomato and you cannot go wrong. Kaeli and I sat on the floor after shooting nibbling on these saying how much we’ve missed them. Personally, I could probably polish an entire loaf of bread if we turned them into braai broodjies, it’s the cornerstone of ANY braai. If you do want to change things up a little you could make a few different varieties – such as adding some pesto princess, or some chutney. You could also add different kinds of cheese depending on the strength of flavour you’re after. But to me, simple is still better, especially if you’re going to enjoy them fresh.
- 250 grams LeCoquin Cheddar Cheese grated
- 250 grams LeCoquin Mozarella grated
- 10 Rosa Tomatoes sliced lengthways
- 1/2 Red Onion thinly sliced
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 4 Slices Sweet Potato Bread or any alternative
Start with your first layer of bread, the outer side facing down. You can choose to add some olive oil to the outer side of your bread if you prefer to get more of a crunch.
Start layering your ingredients starting with a generous layer of cheese, followed by your tomato slices, onion slices, some salt and pepper and a final thinner layer of cheese to seal it all together.
Complete your braai broodjie by closing off with your other slice of sweet potato bread.
Set your braai broodjie aside until your coals have died down a little, and all your other food has been braai'd. Place your braai broodjies side by side on the grid and grill until golden, flip and repeat.
Grilled Mielie and Zucchini Salad
My family are not salad people, they’re carbs all the way. At most family braai’s the only food that would be left over would be the boring old toss up someone brought along made with iceberg lettuce, cucumber, and tomato. Things have shifted in recent years though, maybe by my sheer force of insisting to bring the salad, or because they’ve finally realised there are more options out there than a boring old toss up salad.
My first version of this salad was inspired by Minimalist Bakers Corn and Zucchini Salad made with a sun-dried tomato vinegarette. I made this salad and brought it along to one of our big family braai’s and it was a complete hit, in my family, if the first thing polished off is a salad you know you’re doing something right. After that, we tweaked this recipe, added a few of our own additions and came up with a completely new dressing that is simply incredible – all made with ingredients you probably have in your fridge.
Id never grilled zucchini before Minimalist Bakers salad, but it’s amazing. The zucchini gets incredibly soft on the inside and caramelises on the outside all with an unbelievably smokey flavour. For the corn we added a little olive oil and charred the kernels just enough, combined it all to create the perfect balance of smokey flavours, paired with a creamy mustard dressing and topped with beautiful edible flowers, this salad will be the queen of salads at your next braai. There really is no need to keep using the same salad recipe you gran made years ago when the only options were iceberg lettuce and cucumber and if you’re a fan that’s great too, but just know there is a world of flavours out there, just waiting patiently to be tossed together.
- 3 Medium Zucchinis ends cut off and halved lengthways
- 1 Red Pepper deseeded and sliced lengthways
- 4 Ears of Corn husks removed
- 1 Small Chilli deseeded and finely sliced
- 1/4 cup Fresh Parsley roughly chopped
- 80 grams Wild Rocket rinsed
- 10 grams Edible Flowers
- 3 Lemons juiced
- 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
- 1 tbsp Maple Syrup 1/4
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil
Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in your hand and rub the zucchini and corn with the olive oil, making sure to evening coat.
Once your braai is hot and the coals are still fresh place your zucchini and corn directly on the grates and braai until the zucchini is tender and the corn is slightly charred and bright yellow. Remove from heat, roughly chop the zucchini into 2cm pieces and remove the corn from the cob. Set aside.
To make your dressing: in a small bowl whisk together all your ingredients until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, taste and adjust according to your preference.
To begin assembling your salad, add your rinsed rocket to a large bowl, dress with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss through. Next add your zucchini, corn, raw red peppers, and parsley and toss through.
Once you're ready to serve top your salad with fresh edible flowers and salad dressing. Alternatively, you can serve the dressing on the side to prevent the rocket from wilting too quickly.
Sweet Potato Salad with Avo Mayo
As I’ve said before, my family are not salad people, they are, however, carb people. Lovers of braai broodjies, garlic bread, and potato salad. I grew up with potato salad being at every single one of our family braai’s. My mom made it perfectly, and since I was a smalls potato salad has been amongst my favourite foods at a braai
I will admit, I do get a little fussy over the mayo used in potato salad, it just needs to get that tangy sweet balance right, many people get it right, but sometimes it can go so so wrong. Knowing I can be fussy with the type of mayo we used, we created this recipe using a creamy avo mayo; and honestly, I could eat it by the spoonful. We chose to use sweet potato instead of regular spuds, because of the flavour – it’s slightly sweet and compliments the smokey flavours of the other dishes wonderfully. We added some extra rocket and mustard seeds to balance out the sweet potato and topped everything off with a delicious avo mayo. We made the avo mayo in our Nutribullet, and using a highspeed blender definitely makes a difference, it aerates the mixture leaving you with a fluffy, and light mayo.
Every family has a list of braai staples, and these few just happen to be a few of ours. We changed them so those who are living a plant-based lifestyle can still enjoy them, and share in the festivities of braai day.We will often pair these with Urban Vegans boerewors, or sausages from Veggiewors, who have both replicated the flavours of boerewors incredibly well; – coriander seeds, that’s the secret apparently. But keep an eye on the blog, because we do plan to explore some homemade alternatives that you can start experimenting with.
However you choose to spend your braai day this year, we hope it’s a celebration, and one spent with people who uplift and support you in all aspects, regardless of what you choose to put on the grill.
- 4 Large Sweet Potato skin on, cut into 2cm pieces
- 40 grams Wild Rocket rinsed
- 1 tbsp Mustard Seeds
- 1 Large Avocado
- 1/3 cup Aquafaba brine from tinned chickpeas
- 2 Lemons juiced
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Once the water is boiling, add your sweet potato and a tsp of salt. Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the sweet potato is tender and is pierced easily with a fork. Be careful not to overcook, you don't want mashed potatoes.
Once the potatoes are tender, drain and set aside to completely cool.
While your sweet potato is cooling, prepare your avo mayo by adding all ingredients to a high-speed blender and pulse until smooth. If you find the mixture is a little thick, add some more aquafaba or lemon juice depending on your taste preferences. Keep adding liquid until it has reached the consistency of mayonnaise.
In a large bowl; add your sweet potato, rocket, mustard seeds, and avo mayo, use a wooden spoon to combine and distribute the mayo evenly.
Serve immediately and enjoy!
- This recipe can be made in advance, simply cook your sweet potato beforehand and refrigerate until needed, prepare the avo mayo just before serving to prevent browning.
- If there are any leftovers they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 day.