I first fell in love with barbecue as a child who took March break vacations in Florida. My family and I would ALWAYS go get some amazing barbecue from our favorite spots at least three or four times each trip. Sweet, tangy, salty and smokey -- what's not to love? But I am not an American and my love for barbecue didn't really translate back here in Canada growing up. The best barbecue I found here was nothing like what we ate in the States. It wasn't until well after I had become a vegetarian that barbecue invaded Toronto. Now it seems like there are great barbecue joints everywhere here.
Oh my do I enjoy good barbecue. But to be honest, I haven't been enjoying any at all since becoming mostly vegan (I still eat raw honey) and only rarely encountered barbeque as a vegetarian for the past decade. Why? With my soy allergy and not eating meat, I haven't really sought it out. Most vegan or vegetarian options in Toronto are not barbecue, and when they are they are usually a soy veggie burger or tempeh. No thanks. Luckily for me I went shopping at Pusateri's fruit market in the Church Street Village in Toronto last week and came across sample sizes of Just a Pinch brand of fine sea salts. They had about 20 varieties, and each package was only $1.99! I couldn't resist and went straight for the Durango Smoked Sea Salt -- coarse sea salt smoked over hickory wood!
At first I was a little nervous to try it -- it had been so long since I ate anything with that smokey barbecue flavor and I wasn't sure if I would actually still like it. Well, SLAP ME WITH A BURNIN' CINDER! (Yes I made that up...it will catch on) One whiff of this salt and my love of barbecue came flooding back. Long story short, I F#&*ING LOVE THIS SALT!!! In fact, I'm kind of like that old lady from the Red's Hot Sauce commercials, 'I put that sh#t on everything' now!
I've been noticing a ton of vegan barbecue-inspired recipes online this summer -- particularly for vegan pulled pork sandwiches made with jackfruit. Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that is preserved and sold canned in North America either in sugar syrup or brine. Vegans have been using the brined version to make pulled pork sandwiches because it flakes and pulls like roasted meat. I want to try it but I have had a hard time coming across jackfruit. I did find it in a few Asian markets so I now know that I can get it but I wanted to create my own rendition of pulled pork. Something easy and a recipe made out of ingredients most people can find even outside the big city. After I bought the hickory smoked sea salt I knew I needed to figure out an accessible recipe to showcase it.
Today I want to share with you a real gem of a recipe I developed -- BBQ Pulled Zucchini Wraps! These are seriously easy and ridiculously delicious. The yellow zucchini shreds I used as a substitute for pulled pork really worked out well! This recipe is so easy and has two different variations. The first recipe variation is super simple and nearly raw. Basically you whisk together a basic homemade BBQ sauce and marinate some shredded raw zucchini in it. Wash and trim a few leaves of rainbow swiss chard and wrap away!
Can a recipe get any easier than that?!
Even better, these wraps are vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, and nearly raw!
I made another variation that was a little more complex, you will find that recipe below. Half of the zucchini mixture spends some time in the oven to warm and add chewiness to the texture. The rest marinates in wait and gets some company from a bit of chewy and sour sauerkraut shreds and some pink color from some grated chiogga beet. After half an hour, the zuchini shreds that were warming up get mixed in along with some extra ketchup and onion powder to create a pulled "pork" style filling that even carnivores will enjoy (my husband).
If you decide to give this recipe a try, I STRONGLY recommend using the Durango hickory smoked sea salt from Just a Pinch. It is so good. I've already bought small packages of five of their other varieties of sea salt. Just a Pinch is carried in a few major food stores like Metro as well as purchasable online. It is what makes this meal and the BBQ sauce used in this recipe and they're a Canadian brand! Gotta love supporting us, eh?
This BBQ sauce recipe is really awesome. It is good with or without the hickory smoked sea salt, but with it it is GREAT!
Best of all, this sauce is vegan, gluten-free, organic, probiotic (thanks to the sauerkraut brine), and not overly processed.
I have used this BBQ sauce recipe in a few other dishes which I will be sure to share here on another day in the near future. For now, I hope you enjoy these wraps! I like to think of them as a healthy and kind alternative to pulled pork sandwiches.
To all you die-hard pork-people, all I am saying is give pigs a chance!
BBQ Pulled Zucchini Filling
Recipe courtesy of Baking Backwards
Combine all ingredients in a bowl until well mixed. Set aside.
Mix all ingredients thoroughly together until smooth. Leave to gel for 10 minutes. Stir again.
Add 1/3 cup BBQ sauce to the zucchini mixture (the mixture above that you made and set aside) and mix well. Let marinate for 10-20 minutes at room temperature. Stir again. If mixture looks very watery, add an extra 1 tbsp of chia seeds and stir.
OPTIONAL STEP for WARM wraps: Transfer half the mixture to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in oven preheated to 350F for 30 minutes. After that add it back to the remaining marinating mixture and stir through along with 1 tsp onion powder and 1 tbsp ketchup.
OR for COLD wraps: skip the OPTIONAL STEP and continue as follows:
Taste! If the flavor is muted, add 1 tbsp ketchup, 1 tsp sira and 1 tsp onion powder and stir. Leave to absorb excess liquid for 5 minutes.
Fill the centre of each swiss chard leaf with 1-3 tbsps of the zucchini mixture (depending on the size of your leaf). Roll the leaf to seal the filling inside. For richer tasting wrap, add 1 tsp vegenaise to each leaf before adding the zucchini mixture.