Nothing says summer like barbecue, fun tunes, your favorite people and a relaxing night in the backyard. But after barbecuing all summer, you’re probably getting tired of meat and your vegetarian friends are definitely tired of eating side dishes at backyard events.
Here’s the good news — grilling isn’t just about meat. There are a lot of vegetarian dishes that taste even better when you throw them on the grill. The best part is you don’t have to worry about whether you’ll accidentally poison someone with uncooked meat. Instead, you’ll be able to serve up delicious veggies, fruits and entree dishes that don’t require a thermometer.
Here are five things you can throw on the grill that aren’t meat.
If you’ve never tried grilling a pizza, you’re missing out. The grilling process is simple and the pizza ends up crisp and ready to eat. Plus, you won’t have to worry about heating your oven to 400 degrees and making the entire house 10 degrees warmer. It’s the ultimate perk of barbecuing outside on a hot summer night.
The first step is to make the pizza dough. You can do this at home from scratch or purchase premade dough from a grocery store. Once that’s done, preheat the grill. This is important because if you don’t heat the grill beforehand, the pizza dough might fall through the cracks. Next, cook the dough on one side with the lid closed for about two minutes (you should start to see bubbles of air), then flip it with a spatula. Add your toppings — sauce, cheese, onions, peppers, olives and more — then close the lid. After two more minutes, your pizza should be done. Slide it onto a cookie sheet, cut it up and enjoy. Your guests will be amazed by the crispy crust and melted cheese, but the best part is you’ll be able to spend the evening with your friends instead of trapped in the kitchen.
2. Charred eggplants
Charred eggplants work well as entrees because they are big, flavorful and filling. If you’re grilling a meal for both meat eaters and vegetarians, eggplants are a must. Start by preheating the grill and cutting the eggplants into one-inch strips. Once that’s done, brush both sides of the eggplant with oil and season the strips with salt, pepper and any other seasonings you love. Feeling creative? Try steak seasoning. Next, cook the eggplant on the grill for about five minutes on each side. That’s it. You’ve made charred eggplants. Serve the eggplants with your favorite homemade dressing drizzled across the top.
3. Grilled romaine lettuce
Grilled romaine might sound strange but it’s delicious. In fact, if you have a kid (or spouse) who doesn’t like to eat salad, this is the perfect recipe to try. Lettuce takes on a different texture and flavor once it’s grilled, so even the veggie-weary people in your life will be pleasantly surprised by grilled lettuce. Plus, it’s simple to make.
Divide the romaine lettuce into small heads and drizzle olive oil over the lettuce. Once you’re done, season it with salt and pepper. Next, throw the lettuce on the grill with the cut side facing down. Cook for about five minutes or until the the lettuce is slightly charred. Serve with fresh lemon juice and your favorite Cesar salad dressing.
4. Fresh fruit
You’ve probably grilled vegetables before, but throwing fruit on the grill is another delicious option. One of the easiest ways to enjoy grilled fruit is with kebabs. Simply add a few slices of watermelon, pineapple or apple next time you make a kebab.
Feeling extra daring? Serve grilled fruit for dessert. The heat from the grill caramelizes the natural sugars in fruit and the result is crispy, sweet deliciousness.
Cut these fruits in half and try throwing them on the grill:
Grilled quesadillas are a crowd-pleaser because you can add almost anything you want. Whether it’s onions, extra cheese, beans or bell peppers, the topping options for quesadillas are endless. Plus, throwing quesadillas on the grill is a simple way to include the whole family in the cooking process. Here’s how it works: Place an entire tortilla on the grill, add cheese and other toppings and then place another tortilla on top. Grill for a few minutes and then flip the quesadilla using a spatula. After a few more minutes on the other side, the quesadilla is ready to eat. Cut the quesadilla into triangles and serve it with sour cream, salsa and guacamole. It’s the perfect summertime treat.
Remember: Even without meat, you're still dealing with propane and fire, so don't overlook the risks. See what can happen if you don't follow proper grilling safety guidelines.