How to Enjoy a Barbecue If You Don't Eat Meat

It's all about the sides.
By: Emily Lee
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05_Cornbread_Salad_018.tif

Photo by: Con Poulos

Con Poulos

Here at Food Network, we look forward to summer barbecues as a time when friends and food unite. The smoked brisket, the slow-cooked ribs, the pulled pork — all shared with good company. What's not to love? Well, everything, if you're a vegetarian. If you're trying to go meatless, there's no need to decline an invitation to one of the ritual summer feasts. There are plenty of dishes that can satisfy your hunger and complement the meaty fare for everyone else in attendance. From fresh, in-season side salads to the more-traditional barbecue sidekicks like macaroni and cheese, here are some of our top picks for a memorable — and meatless — barbecue experience.

There's no way around it, really: If you're avoiding meat at a barbecue, the side dishes are your best friends. That's why a hearty side salad that's loaded with different ingredients and textures is the way to go. This meal-worthy cornbread salad is similar to a trifle, layered with cornbread crumbles, corn, tomatoes, peppers, cheese and more.

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05_MacAndCheese_023.tif

Food Stylist: Stephana Bottom Prop Stylist: Marcus Hay

Photo by: Con Poulos

Con Poulos

Havarti, yellow cheddar and white American cheeses are the picks for this creamy dish that gets a kick from hot sauce and cayenne pepper.

ALEX_G_GRILLED_ROMAINE_SALAD_BLUE_CHEESE_H.jpg

ALEX_G_GRILLED_ROMAINE_SALAD_BLUE_CHEESE_H.jpg

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Even your guests who came to feast on brisket will benefit from fresh, seasonal produce, like crunchy romaine. It might not seem like the most-obvious method for preparing romaine, but Alex Guarnaschelli's grilled salad doesn't disappoint. Top it off with a spicy vinaigrette and some chunky blue cheese, and this salad could be a meal on its own.

Rachael Ray's Quinoa Stuffed Peppers As seen on Food Network

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Stephen Johnson, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

When it comes time to serve the pulled pork and ribs, make sure you roll out a main dish option for your meatless eaters. Stuffed peppers are always a safe bet. Red bell peppers make colorful shells for a fluffy quinoa and Rachael Ray's chile, eggplant and fresh zucchini stuffing. Serve the stuffed peppers topped with crumbled feta, for a touch of creaminess.

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Food Stylist: Stephana Bottom Prop Stylist: Leslie Siegel

Photo by: Andrew McCaul

Andrew McCaul

The Neelys give their coleslaw a sweet twang with apple cider vinegar and add a little spice with cayenne pepper.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

At the very least, you can count on potato salad at any barbecue. And as long as you're avoiding meat, you may as well make it a healthy batch. With sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes and Greek yogurt replacing some of the mayonnaise, Trisha Yearwood gives potato salad gets a lightened-up makeover that doesn't disappoint.

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