Photos by Lindsey Johnson
Do a quick search for "grilling recipes," and 9 out of 10 of the results mention some sort of meat. It's no wonder even long-time vegetarians sometimes feel a little stymied when it comes to meatless recipes for the grill (although here are 50 of them that we rounded up, for loads of inspiration!).
That's why I love the idea of these Grilled Teriyaki Tofu Lettuce Wraps. Each main component -- tofu, pineapple, and zucchini -- gets grilled to perfection, then they're chopped into manageable pieces and served up in crispy butter lettuce cups. Don't forget the dressing -- a sesame-based affair with a little sriracha for zip.
Although it's notoriously known as a vegetarian staple, tofu might not actually be the first thing that comes to mind when you're dreaming up foods to barbecue. But it should be! Tofu on the grill can be sublime -- and it's so easy. I like to start with an extra-firm block (be sure to press it first!) and cut it into 6 slices, about ½-inch thick -- thin enough to take on a flavorful marinade, but thick enough to hold up to a little bit of handling on the grill.
Be sure to coat the grilling surface with a high-smoke-point oil, because tofu can stick. Then just slap it right on the BBQ grates and cook on medium-high -- around 400°F. The tofu will turn golden and develop tasty grill marks, and all the flavor from the marinade gets seared right in. I like to serve my grilled tofu with a little dipping sauce, because, depending on the marinade, it can be a little dry.
- 1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil divided
- ¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
- 1 fresh pineapple peeled, cored, and sliced into ¾-inch rings
- 1 medium zucchini cut lengthwise into ½-inch-thick slices
- Pinch kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 8-10 butter or Bibb lettuce leaves washed and dried well
Creamy Sesame Dressing:
- ¼ cup tahini
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup honey would work too
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
- Marinate the tofu. Drain tofu and press for 25-30 minutes (detailed tofu pressing instructions here). Cut into six ½-inch slices. Place the tofu slices into a small baking dish or zipper bag. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, tamari or soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger. Pour the marinade over the tofu and turn tofu to help ensure the marinade has coated all sides. Place in refrigerator and marinate for 1-2 hours, turning occasionally.
- When you're ready to start grilling, brush the zucchini with 1 tablespoon sesame oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
- Preheat grill to medium-high, about 400ºF. Oil the grates with a high smoke-point oil such as canola or grapeseed oil (or use non-stick cooking spray). Lay the tofu, pineapple, and zucchini on the grill and close the lid. Beware: the marinade on the tofu may cause it to flame up at first! Cook the pineapple and zucchini until they show golden-brown grill lines (about 5 minutes). Turn over and cook until lines appear on the other side (2-3 more minutes). Transfer to a large platter to cool. Flip the tofu when it starts to show grill lines (after 8-9 minutes). Cook on the other side until heated through and showing lines (3-4 more minutes). Transfer tofu to the platter. Let pineapple, zucchini, and tofu sit until they're cool to the touch and then cut them all into ½-inch size squares. Return to the platter and toss gently to combine.
- Make the dressing. Add all of the dressing ingredients to the pitcher of a blender. Blend until completely pureed and creamy.
- To serve, scoop tofu mixture into lettuce leaf cups and drizzle with a little sauce. Fold sides of leaves over the top and eat.