As we approach the end of summer, there’s still time to fit in some last-minute BBQs before the weather truly changes. Barbequing is always a bit of a production with all the time spent preparing the food, cooking and serving everything. Not to mention the to-ing and fro-ing from the kitchen to the grill. But all that effort is worth it. When a BBQ goes well, it’s almost magical and time seems to slow down. As you stand outside close to the burning heat of the grill with a cold drink in your hand, you can imagine that you are on holiday somewhere sunny and relaxing. There’s no hurry as you cook and soak up the smoky fumes as your mind wanders. This is what life is about…If only you lived somewhere where you could do this all the time. Why don’t we barbeque more often?
Of course, even if the weather cooperates, it doesn’t always go according to plan. There’s nothing more frustrating than when you run out of fuel or the coals fail to stay hot enough to finish cooking everything without getting food poisoning. As you abandon a pathetically lukewarm grill you are suddenly awoken from your once blissful relaxed state to find yourself in the default position of parental provider of grub. Having to continue ‘barbequing’ in an oven while being hounded by hungry children and family members who want to know when it’s going to be ready is hardly magical. By the time you’ve cooked everything to perfection and triumphantly sit down to eat, they have already ploughed their way through the all of BBQ sides and crisps and are no longer hungry. Yet they still have room for s’mores, if you’re asking…
Nonetheless, the good BBQs outshine the bad which is why we still go back for more every year. The only real bone of contention is then about what exactly to cook. Every family has their old BBQ standbys and sauces but increasingly food trends and the influence of social media have made inroads into what we put on our grills. Many families have already adopted veggie burgers, haloumi or falafel alongside their BBQ mainstays. But what about barbequing avocado halves, sweet potato slices or some quartered romaine lettuce heads? How else are you going to make a smoky Caesar salad?!
The list of foods that you can barbeque is endless although sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error. Turns out that not every firm cheese is as stable as haloumi when barbequed and whole apples can explode if you forget to score the skin. Therefore, to save you some time and clean up, I have listed my top 10 unexpectedly tasty BBQ foods to try.
- Broccoli – Surprisingly good even if you’re not normally a massive fan. Simply quarter or cut a head into large slices and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with chili flakes or your favourite seasoning before grilling. Squeeze a little lemon on top to serve. Alternatively, add a little some soy sauce to the oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds once grilled.
- Cauliflower – This veg is still having its moment and is a perfect match for the BBQ. Cut into ‘steaks’ and brush with a mix of harissa paste, lemon juice, ground cumin, crushed garlic, chili flakes and a little oil before grilling.
- Watermelon – Like many fruits, barbequing adds a smoky flavour while caramelising. Brush each slice with a little oil and squeeze lime juice while still on the BBQ once grilled. For a sweeter dish, brush with a little honey.
- Pasta – For this you need a grilling basket such as one you would use to barbeque a whole fish. It also works best using longer noodles such as spaghetti or tagliatelle that won’t escape. Simply cook the pasta for 1 minute less as per instructions. Drain, mix with a little olive oil and crushed garlic and place into the basket. Barbeque until the pasta is just starting to get crispy. If you grill some tomatoes or peppers at the same time you will have an instant sauce.
- Clams – Incredibly easy to barbeque. Clean the clams and place directly onto the BBQ. Remove once they have opened and discard any that do not open. Serve at once or make an easy sauce by combining garlic, white wine and butter and bring to a boil.
- Pizza – Brush your usual pizza dough with a little oil and place directly onto the BBQ. Grill on one side and flip over. Move to a slightly cooler part of the BBQ to place toppings on top to cook.
- Stuffed banana boats – Peel one length of a banana keeping the skin attached at one end. Using a small spoon, scoop out approx. the top third of the banana, lengthwise. Stuff the banana with any combination of berries, nuts, seeds or peanut butter. Or make a healthier s’more by filling with mini-marshmallows and chocolate chips. Close the banana again with the peel and wrap the entire banana tightly in foil. Grill for 5-7 min on each side.
- Strawberries – Although barbequing fruit is hardly new for some reason strawberries tend to get overlooked. Place strawberries on pre-soaked skewers and grill until slightly charred. Eat on their own or add to a salad with some balsamic vinegar.
- Tortilla chips – A quick way to make some dippers alongside whatever you are grilling. Cut some tortillas into triangles and place on the BBQ. Flip over once charred and eat at once on their own or with some dip.
- Carrots – Sounds boring but trust me, they taste amazing when barbequed. Brush whole carrots with a little oil place on the grill. Cook for around 10-15min while turning from time to time. You can also try brushing them with a little harissa paste or seasoning them with dried rosemary before grilling.
That’s it for now as I’m off to get out the BBQ. In the meantime, here is a recipe for a tasty veggie burger that can be barbequed inside or out, Beetroot and black bean burgers with Avocado mayo and Coleslaw with fennel dressing.