At any given weekend, from now until sometime in September, those puffs of smoke and enticing aromas emanating from nearby gardens are as likely to be barbecuing vegetables as they are sizzling meats. Certainly around these parts, despite the stubbornly cool temps and challenging winds, I have heard beery shouts and rose’-induced giggles marking the British barbecuing season.
And not all the smells have been meaty. The sweetness, the herbalness (I have a strangely acute sense of smell) indicate to me the influence of perhaps someone whose first name starts with Y and ends with M. I reckon not an immodest amount of aubergines have been sacrificed in his name of late. There may also be spaces on supermarket shelves where tahini used to be. But in my back garden this past week, I was – shock – influenced more by Mexico than the Middle East. I’m not sure when veggies on the barbie became mainstream, but they most certainly have. Pick up any magazine even tangentially related to food and you’d be hard pressed not to find something like halloumi and vegetable kebabs or glistening slabs of aubergines and peppers staring up at you. Trendy spatch-cocked and herb-coated chickens and garlicky lamb mince kebabs too, of course. But I have definitely noticed a trend in even the most meat-centric publications of at least having a few enticing veggie dishes to throw on the bbq as well.
Of course here at food to glow we are mainly about eating those colourful vegetables, and getting in as many as reason and common sense allow, so slapping some beautiful vibrant veggies on a barbie is no stretch of skill, really. Unless, like me, you are really rubbish at fires and keeping them going.
I really should treat myself to a new barbecue grill soon. And a windbreak. Perhaps a new jumper.
Roll on July…
Mexican Barbecued Salad Platter with Avocado, Pomegranate and Feta Guacamole
A mouthful to say, and a big, flavour-jammed mouthful to eat. I have used in-its-prime sweetcorn, as well as always-in-season sweet potatoes as the base, but you could use anything that you care to throw on a barbecue: aubergines (eggplant), courgettes (zucchini), peppers, jicama, mushrooms – your call. Do be sure to cram in the colours for max taste, nutrients and wow-factor.
Oh, you will have no doubt noticed the kale leaves on the grill. I impulsively pinched some from the garden and laid them on as a bit of an experiment. It worked. Delish: no oil, no salt, just hot puffs of air towards the end of cooking time to dry and crisp the delicate new leaves. Not necessary, but these serendipitously-made crisps add a wispy, crunchy texture to the finished dish.
2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ¼ inch-thick rounds
2 ears of sweetcorn, de-silked (brined or blanched if you like, but I don’t bother)
1-2 tbsp oil, such as non-virgin olive oil, organic non-virgin rapeseed/canola or melted coconut oil
juice of ½ small lime and ½ clementine/small orange
Good pinch salt
Toppings: chopped tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, torn leaf coriander/cilantro, cooked black beans (not shown), extra pomegranate seeds
1. Sort your grill for hot, direct heat. I use charcoal and wait until the flames die down. I also keep a little extra oil handy in case things look a bit dry, painting the oil on with a silicone brush as needed.
2. Whisk together the oil, citrus and salt in a small bowl. Paint the sliced sweet potatoes and the sweetcorn with the flavoured oil and lay on the grill. Cover the grill with the lid, if you have one. Cook until the potatoes are softened and marked, and the corn actually starts popping in places. Timings are tricky to give but it took my veggies about 15 minutes in total, and I was turning and checking frequently. Have a tray and some foil to cover handy.
3. Everyone has their own favourite methods and likes for barbecuing veggies/meats. I am no expert so you can read up on sweetcorn advice at Serious Eats (and it carries on into the comment section), and turn to Elise at Simply Recipes for advice on sweet potatoes. Americans seem to know their stuff on bbq grilled veggies, so do have a scan if you aren’t sure.
4. Once the vegetables are cooked to your liking wrap loosely in foil to keep warm and juicy while you get your serving platter and toppings together. Once cool enough, scrape the corn off the cobs, standing the corn vertically on a chopping board and carefully pushing a heavy knife down the cob towards the board, turning to strip the cob. Make the guacamole either just before or just after grilling the vegetables.
5. To serve, layer up the barbecued vegetables with chopped tomatoes, coriander, black beans (if using) and some of the pomegranate seeds. Top with big fat dollops of pea-spiked guacamole, more pomegranate seeds and a hefty scattering of crumbled best feta cheese. Obviously if you are vegan just leave that last bit out, but squeeze on some extra lime and a little more salt to make up for the piquant feta’s absence.
Avocado, Pea, Pomegranate and Feta Guacamole
A twist on regular guacamole, the peas add protein while the sweet-tart pomegranates and the salty, creamy cheese are a party in your mouth. This shouldn’t go together, but rest assured that it does. I wouldn’t steer you wrong. This will make more than you probably will eat in this salad but it is delicious on toast, or with eggs the following day. It goes without saying that tortilla chips or pitta chips go perfectly well, too.
75g/2.7 oz/rounded ½ cup fresh small peas, blanched for 2 minutes then refreshed with cold water – optional
2 ripe avocados (medium size)
1 garlic clove
Good pinch of sea salt
½ green chili (or whole), deseeded and chopped
2 spring onions/scallions, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Method: For the best result pound the garlic, salt and chilli in a pestle and mortar before adding everything to a food processor or blender. Of course you can mash with a fork for a pleasingly low-tech and mega-chunky result. I like my guacamole with some texture so I use the Pulse button on my Optimum 9400 Froothie blender until I get it the way I like it, using the curved spatula/scraper to sort things in between blitzes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, heat and tang as required.
Here is my ‘regular’ guacamole, with advice on how to choose the perfect avocado.
Serve warm/room temperature, on its own or with a variety of companion salads, such as my Moroccan Carrot Salad (one of my favourites), this very tangy and savoury Roasted Aubergine and Onion Salad with Tahini-Garlic Dressing and Homemade Za’atar, and maybe this Lebanese Freekeh and Fig Salad. This Beetroot and Cashew Hummus would be an interesting and colourful addition to the guacamole. I have loads more salads here.
A Handful of Food To Glow BBQ Recipes:
Plum-Berry Upside-down Skillet Cobbler (I make this on the bbq most times)
Recipes From Others:
Pattypan, Zucchini, Halloumi & Pepper Kebabs On The Braai via Cook Sister
Roasted Sweetcorn with Lime and Coriander Butter via Coffee and Vanilla
BBQ Apricots with Goat’s Cheese via Tinned Tomatoes
Lovely places to link to and share your recipes:
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the good people at Homebase, where I really need to get along to and choose a new barbecue grill – truly! It also contains an affiliate link. If you purchase on this link I receive a small commission but you pay nothing extra, and even get an extra two year warranty thrown in if you type in “Special Ambassador Offer” (case sensitive) at checkout. I only accept sponsorship and affiliations with brands that I actually use and trust.