Vegetarian main dishes are a bit harder for vegetarians to make palatable for meat eaters, but the effort is worth it. Not only do well-cooked vegetarian main dishes provide positive PR for vegetarianism, they also help fend off Aunt Esther's questions about “why you're not eating anything?"
Two great vegetarian main dishes are grilled portabello mushroom caps and tofu-veggie skewers. Meat-eaters like the option of putting a grilled mushroom right on top of a burger patty, and vegetarians can avoid drawing unwelcome attention by being seen eating something in a bun. Vegetarian skewers seem to be one of the few methods of cooking tofu that meat eaters don't find “too weird."
To prepare portabello mushroom caps for high-heat cooking, it helps to use a spoon to scrape out the gills. This keeps mushroom caps from becoming soggy (America's Test Kitchen, 2006.) Then, caps can simply be grilled just like burgers.
To prepare vegetarian skewers, cut pressed tofu into blocks, marinade in a simple sauce, such as soy sauce, BBQ or teriyaki sauce, then intersperse on a skewer with pearl onions, peppers, or any other veggies that will take well to long cooking. To keep tofu from sticking, it is essential that grill grates be scrupulously clean (Hacket.)
Vegetarians who prefer not to eat off the same grill used to cook meat can use the risk of sticking as an excuse to bring their own small grills. Failing that, there's always the standard excuse “I want to make something special for everyone, and these need a different temperature than the main grill."
More recipes for great summer vegetarian food are available at the Vegetarian Times website, www.vegetariantimes.com. With these recipes for vegetarian dishes, and knowing what other dishes are usually “safe", vegetarians can enjoy, not dread, the family BBQ.