(credit: Christine Hinrichs)

By Christine Hinrichs

As a vegetarian, I often bring a simple foil packet of vegetables and maybe a packaged veggie burger to barbecues. But for this spring and summer, I found grilling options and vegetarian recipes that would also appeal to my meat-eating friends.

I tested out these recipes with some of my friends, and all three were a hit — even the tofu! So whether you’re a vegetarian or just looking to try out new grilled side dishes, there’s something here for you. Enjoy!

Related: Summer Grilling Guide

(credit: Thinkstock)

Grilled Romaine Lettuce with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Serves 3-4

3 heads of romaine lettuce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 shallots, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons capers
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon sugar, optional
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Slice the romaine lettuce heads lengthwise, keeping the end in tact so it will grill more easily. Brush the halves lightly with olive oil. Grill the lettuce on both sides until the lettuce has lightly wilted, and you have good grill marks.

In a small bowl, mix the mustard, vinegar, shallots, garlic, and capers together. Whisking with a fork, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until you reach your desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings — add more salt or sugar if needed.

Top the lettuce halves with the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

(credit: Thinkstock)

Grilled Bread with Gorgonzola and Grilled Peppers and Onions

Serves 3-4

1 large French baguette, sliced in about 1-inch slices on a diagonal
3 peppers — yellow, red, or orange, sliced very thin
1 white onion, sliced very thin
1/3 of a pound of Gorgonzola cheese, left out at room temperature for about 30 minutes
Olive oil

Brush the bread slices with just a bit of olive oil.

Toss the peppers and onions in about a teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. If you have a grill basket, place the vegetables in the grill basket. If not, place the veggies on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold into a packet.

Place the veggies on the grill and grill until softened. Grill the bread on one side until the slices are just slightly charred.

While the bread is still warm, spread a tablespoon of Gorgonzola cheese on the slices. Top with the grilled peppers and onions. Serve and enjoy.

(credit: Thinkstock)

Grilled Tofu with Peanut Sauce

Serves 2-3

1 package of extra firm tofu
1 bottle of peanut sauce (you can use any of your favorite grilling sauce — BBQ, teriyaki, etc.)
Olive oil

Place the tofu between two plates and put a heavy object on top to press out the water from the tofu. Slice the tofu block in half lengthwise to create two large tofu squares. Brush the tofu on both sides with a bit of olive oil.

Place the tofu “steaks” on the grill. When one side has good grill marks and a bit of a char, flip the tofu and baste the cooked side with some of the grilling sauce. When the second side has cooked, remove the tofu from the grill and baste the other side with the grilling sauce. Serve the tofu steaks with additional sauce on the side.

** A big thanks to Leigh and Peter Currie for being my official taste-testers and for letting me use their grill for my food adventures! **

Check out the Summer Guide at CBS Local.

Christine Hinrichs is a vegetarian who loves everything related to food. She daydreams about recipes, frequents the local farmers’ markets and reads cookbooks before bed. Read about her food adventures at ruminationsonfood.blogspot.com.