You are throwing a barbie, it’s pot luck, everybody brings chicken wings, sausages, burgers…but what to do about the vegetarians? It’s not hard, here are some tips so that you are always veggie-ready and do not offend:
|Halloumi, pepper and Nasturtium salad|
1) Always have two things in the cupboard for surprise vegetarians: 1) a pack of Halloumi, the Greek Cypriot no-melt cheese to hand. You can slice it directly on the barbecue, or stuff red peppers or mild chillis with it, adding a dribble of olive oil and a scoop of pesto. 2) a pack of tofu. Silken is soft so needs to be wrapped but firm or smoked tofu is robust enough to put on kebabs.
|Aubergines halves, cross hatched and spread with light miso|
|Corn on the cob with compound butters (recipe for the best bbq corn on the cob in my book)|
|Grilled grapefruit with butter, a little bit 70s but still a winner|
|Grilled aubergine slices served with yoghurt, pine nuts and pomegranate seeds|
|Grilled strings of tomatoes on the vine, whole garlic, pepper slices, seasoned with pesto and balsamic vinegar|
2) Be imaginative with grilling vegetables: apart from the classic corn on the cob with gorgeous ‘compound’ butters in different flavours, I love aubergines sliced in half and smeared with light miso paste. Or barbecued Romaine lettuce halves, drizzled with balsamic. And what about Jalapeno halves, stuffed with cream cheese and sprinkled with paprika…
|Thai monkfish in banana leaf parcels with chilli, lemon grass, coconut cream|
|Halloumi wrapped in vine leaves|
3) Wrap things: in banana leaf, in vine leaves, in foil. Make foil packets of tofu cubes, sprinkled with finely chopped red chilli, spring onions, some Ponzu and a few sesame seeds. Wrap onions stuffed with goats cheese in foil, sling ’em in the embers.
5) Put food on sticks: sausages, kebabs, marshmallows, chunks of smoked tofu, teeny par boiled new potatoes threaded onto a stick of rosemary. American food blogger Matt Bites has a brilliant cook book ‘On a stick” with food on sticks recipes such as spaghetti and meatballs!
6) Don’t use the same bit of bbq grill for veggies as you do for your bloody dripping meat, you insensitive brutes. Keep a separate area and stick to it. Or have a whole separate barbecue grill.
|Star Ruby grapefruit, mozzarella, pink peppercorns and pistachios|
|Cherry tomatoes, marigold petals, nasturtium leaves salad|
7) Salads and salsas. What is a salsa? A very finely chopped up salad. Goes great with veggie and non veggie barbecued food. Equally, vibrant colourful salads are popular with meat eaters too even if they don’t know it. (When I attended a ‘braai’ in South Africa, I was shocked when the male barbequeists didn’t have ANY salad. I made some. They all ate it.)
8) Make your barbecue smell nice by pushing some woody herb sprigs onto the coals: rosemary, thyme, oregano, lavender.
|Grilled pineapple with chilli syrup|
|Grilled nectarines dotted with butter and sweet herbs|
9) Desserts can be barbecued too: slices of pineapple with chilli syrup; grilled peaches caramelised with lavender sugar; or that campfire classic, slit a banana and prise in a chocolate flake, close and wait for the fudgy flesh to poach in melted chocolate.
|Fresh corn taco with grilled tomatoes and tomatillo salsa|
10) Good bread helps. Damper bread on sticks… garlicky homemade pitta breads puff quickly if they are thinly rolled out, as does Persian style flat bread Lavash, folded over fresh herbs. Try corn bread moistened with maple and jalapeno butter. For bruschetta; lightly grill slices of baguette, rub with garlic and pile up some diced tomatoes with a lick of olive oil, salt and vinegar. Tacos! we don’t eat enough of them here in Britain, the perfect dumping ground for a few grilled veggies, then garnished with sour cream and salsa.
|Lavash with fresh herbs such as dill, parsley, tarragon, chervil, coriander|
11) And boys, do let the girls have a go on the barbie. We can cook on fire too.
|Guacamole, mango salsa, tomato salsa, and tomatillo salsa|