As we get closer to the May bank holiday, our thoughts unsurprisingly turn to that first BBQ of the year. That is, of course, unless you managed to have a crafty BBQ during the unseasonable warmth much of the country was blessed with back in March…
As such it’s the perfect time to revive our BBQ Chef’s guide series of blogs. Each of those blogs details some of the best ways to cook more unusual foods outdoors other than plain old sausages and burgers. Since YouGov now predicts that more than 10% of the country are vegetarian or vegan, we could think of no better place to go next than with vegetables.
Historically, vegetarians and especially vegans (who can’t even have that emergency back-of-fridge-halloumi) have had a rough deal when it comes to attending BBQs, often left to contend with one sorry pack of veggie sausages for all their sustenance.
This is ridiculous when you consider the fact that vegetables are among the cheapest food types, and the fact that they particularly lend themselves to being flame-grilled: caramelising and imbuing with a sweet smoky flavour that is hard to beat.
There are just a few tricks you need to know to become a BBQ veggie master this summer…
We’re used to chucking fat-rich burgers, sausages, and steaks straight onto the grill, but vegetables require a little help to get them going. If you’ve ever suffered from dry or limp vegetables on the grill, this is probably because you’ve neglected to give them a spritz of oil before cooking.
Brush or spray a light dosing of olive oil onto aubergines, red onions, peppers and other veg to give them the fat boost, that will transform them from tasteless bits of carbon to colourful delights the whole party will fight over.
Know your cook times
Burgers and sausages are relatively forgiving when it comes to cooking. Providing you give them the occasional turn, to stop them completely transforming into charcoal, you can sit them on the side of the grill while your guests wait for their second wind as they enjoy your delicious cocktails.
Vegetables are not so robust, and you need to get them off the heat when they’re good and ready or they will spoil. Think about grilling vegetables as being akin to cooking steaks to order for your guests – once they reach the correct level of doneness get them straight off the fire and onto the plate.
Check out this guide for various vegetable grill times here.
You spend hours marinating chicken thighs and other meaty delights to blow away your guests, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do the same for vegetables.
A simple vegetable marinade can be knocked-up by mixing plenty of olive oil with any or all of the below:
- Honey / maple syrup / sugar
- Vinegar: balsamic or white
- Mustard: Dijon or wholegrain
- Fresh herbs: any of your choice
- Dried spices: any of your choice
- Chilli: fresh or flaked
- Lemon: juice and zest
Have a look online for more marinade ideas: we even found one to make so-called ‘bbq cauliflower chicken wings’ – the recipe says to use an oven but we think a BBQ grill would work even better.
Did you know you can knock up a quick and impressive selection of antipasti by marinating vegetables after you take them off the grill? Credit to this blog for that tip!
If you’ve got a troop of hungry herbivores who simply cannot wait to eat, then your best option might be to try a kebab. Cut various veggies down to small bits and thread them onto a skewer, this way you can cook different vegetables uniformly.
We’ve all tried corn on the cob and aubergine halves on the BBQ, but don’t be so conventional. Many leafy green things that are normally served raw, or simply discarded to the food waste bin, can become signature dishes with a little time on the grill.Try things like romaine lettuce halves, chard or even cauliflower leaves.
One final note, while there are many ways you can make vegetables exciting and tasty on your BBQ, remember that the best tasting vegetables will usually be fresh and in season. So, when you go to the supermarket or greengrocers take a quick look at an in-season calendar to see what the best produce for the time of the year is.
Looking for more summer fun?
Our blog is loaded with ideas for getting the most out of your lawn this summer.