Looks like we have some great weather heading our way, and you know what that means: barbecue! My mode of barbecuing is inspired by the street food tradition of adding interesting condiments to smoky, slightly charred grilled veg.
This takes barbecuing into an exciting flavour realm, enhancing vegetables with chillies and spices, adding tartness with tamarind or lime, sweetening with palm sugar, or cooling things down with a yoghurt dip.
The best vegetables for cooking on a barbecue:
- butternut squash
- sweet potato or yams
- corn on the cob
- field mushrooms
- Romano peppers
- banana shallots
For the best flavour, cook over a wood fire. My favourite is apple wood with sprigs of rosemary or sage to add a hint of herbs. But you can also use your grill indoors if your barbecue gets rained off!
Vegetarian Barbecue Recipes
- Chermoula Halloumi & Courgette Kebabs
- Sunny Sensation Wrap
- BBQ Sweetcorn
- Garden Salad with Griddled Asparagus
- Grilled Aubergine with Sumac and Zataar
A spice rub is applied to the vegetables so the seasoning permeates the vegetables before grilling. In the Caribbean they use jerk spice rub, which is made of a variety of spices, but always has all spice and fiery scotch bonnet chillies. In Morocco they use ‘lekama’, which is a mix of cumin, paprika and salt.
Mexican salsas are traditionally made in a pestle and mortar, and they can be raw or cooked. Salsa Cruda is made with diced or pounded tomatoes or tomatillos and chillies. Salsa Asada is made with roasted tomatoes, chillies and garlic, the flavours balanced with lime juice, salt and sugar.
I like fresh Indian chutneys, which are easy to make. Try a brilliant green chutney made with copious quantity of chopped coriander and mint, green chillies, cumin and lemon. For an unusual sweet and sour chutney, try tamarind chutney made with tamarind pulp, cooked dates, and flavoured with ginger and cayenne.
Tamarind has a sour flavour with a sweet aftertaste and works like lemon juice to sour and enhance flavour. Buy tamarind in blocks, which look rather like squashed dates. To extract the pulp, break off a chunk from the block, pour on just enough hot water to cover, and leave to soak, then squeeze out the pulp and discard the fibre and seeds.
For a Far Eastern twist try a sharp plum sauce, made with plums, which are now in season, cooked down with onion, rice wine vinegar and palm sugar. Palm sugar is made from the sap of the date palm and has a soft molasses flavour, buy it in cone form, which you grate to use. Or try satay sauce made with crushed peanuts or crunchy peanut butter, fresh root ginger and chillies.
Have a go at Australian damper bread. My partner is Australian and he showed me how easy and quick it is to make. Damper can be baked as a loaf in a tin or wrapped in silver foil in the oven, but it’s more fun to make a snake of dough coiled around a wooden stick and cooked over glowing coals.
Out in the Australian bush there was no time for yeast leavening so either baking powder or a little wood ash was used to make the dough rise. Authentic damper has a similar chewiness and crisp crust to today’s best sourdoughs and a unique taste from the eucalyptus sticks burnt on the fire.