People always say that food tastes better outside. I second that. Barbecued food, cooked and nibbled at a leisurely pace on a long summer evening, is a double whammy of deliciousness.
Every summer spread deserves a selection of salads which celebrate the season and there’s something so exciting, joyous even, about a plate filled with vegetables, all with different colours, flavours and textures.
Chickpea and roasted pepper salad
One of the reasons I like this salad is that, unlike most salads, it’s one for which you can always have the ingredients at hand: A tin of chickpeas from the cupboard and peppers from the freezer (if you haven’t discovered freezing peppers then I highly recommend
starting). In addition to this, it can be made up to a day ahead, covered and kept in the fridge where the fl avours seem to intensify.
400g can chickpeas
4-5 pieces roasted red pepper from a jar, or roasted yourself with olive oil and salt.
4 tbsp chopped mint
4 tbsp chopped parsley
4 spring onions, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
Rinse and drain the chickpeas, then pat dry with paper towels. Tip onto a plate and crush roughly with a fork. Drain the peppers then roughly chop. Mix the mashed chickpeas and peppers with the remaining ingredients. Season to taste. Serve in one big bowl, or several smaller bowls.
Warm Potato, green bean and tomato salad
A fantastic light and summery salad – a perfect accompaniment to barbequed meat, chicken or fi sh.
1kg small new potatoes
400g fi ne green beans
200g cherry tomatoes halved (or flavourful, regular tomatoes)
For the dressing:
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp clear honey
2 tsp Dijon mustard
5 tbsp olive oil
Parsley to garnish
Slice the potatoes and boil in salted water for 4 minutes.
Add the beans to the pan and boil for a further 3-4 minutes until they are just tender.
Meanwhile, mix all of the dressing ingredients together (an empty jar makes a useful dressing shaker).
Drain the vegetables, tip into a large bowl and add the tomatoes.
Pour the dressing over everything and toss well so nothing is left uncoated.
Sprinkle with parsley and some freshly ground black pepper.
Crunchy red cabbage slaw
A colourful, fresh slaw bursting with fl avour, full of texture and super healthy.
300g red cabbage
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
1 red skinned apple, coarsely grated
Bunch spring onions, fi nely sliced
For the dressing:
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Place the shredded cabbage in a large bowl with the carrot, apple and spring onions.
Whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar and oil. Season, then pour over the salad and toss.
Of course, every barbecue needs a selection of chicken, meat and fish. Here are my favourites.
Spicy Yoghurt Chicken
8 skinless chicken drumsticks
142ml tub natural yoghurt
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground turmeric
With a sharp knife make a few slashes in each drumstick. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl, season to taste. Add the drumsticks, rubbing the mixture well into the meat. For greater flavour and if time permits, chill for 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the marinade shaking off any excess.
Cook on the barbecue for 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally, until cooked through.
Peppered beef brochettes
1 rounded tbsp black peppercorns
1.2 kg thickly sliced steak, sirloin or rump, cut into large chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions
Lettuce or rocket leaves to serve
Crush the peppercorns coarsely with a pestle and mortar. Toss the beef with the peppercorns, oil and a little salt.
Quarter the onions and separate the layers. Cut each lime into 6 wedges. Thread the beef and onions alternately on to 12 skewers,
finishing each skewer with a lime wedge.
Cook the skewers on the barbecue for 6-10 minutes, turning occasionally until cooked to your liking. Serve on a bed of rocket
or lettuce leaves.
Mustard crust salmon
5 large salmon fillets, scaled with skin on, about 200g each
5 tsp Dijon mustard
5 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
5 tbsp light olive oil
Slash the skin on each fi llet a number of times then season all over with salt and pepper. Spread mustard over the skin side. Tip
the mustard seeds onto a plate, then press the salmon, skin side down into them. Tap off any excess.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a heavy frying pan and fry the salmon crust side down for 5 minutes or until the skin and crust is crisp and golden.
Turn, then cook for another 1-2 minutes or until cooked through.
Leave to cool then keep in the fridge, loosely covered, for up to a day.
And let’s not forget something sweet to round off the meal!
This is an indulgent, impressive dessert. I think the meringues are better made a few days ahead and kept in an airtight container.
They develop this fantastic chewy texture. This recipe makes about 18.
8 large egg whites
500g caster sugar
4 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp white wine vinegar
700ml whipping cream, whipped
750g strawberries/raspberries or a combination of any of your favourite fruits
Icing sugar for dusting
Heat the oven to 1800C/fan 160OC/gas 4. Line 3 baking sheets with baking paper. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are holding firm peaks but aren’t stiff . Gently add the sugar spoonful after spoonful, still beating, until you have a bowl of glossy snowy meringue. Sprinkle the cornfl our, a few drops of vanilla and the white wine vinegar on top and fold in.
Draw 6 10cm circles on each of the sheets of baking paper leaving a space between each. Spoon the meringue slightly higher at the
rims or just use the back of the spoon to make an indentation in the centre to hold the fruit and cream in later. Put the trays into the oven and turn it down to 150OC/fan 130OC/gas 2, then bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave for another hour before putting onto a wire rack.
To serve, dollop whipped cream into the indentation and smooth it with the back of a spoon. Arrange fruit on top. Dust with icing sugar.
No-cook Chocolate tart
A speedy fridge desert.
200g pack all butter biscuits
1 tbsp golden syrup or honey
100g bar dark chocolate
100g bar milk chocolate
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
200ml whipping cream
3 tbsp crème fraiche, to decorate
200g raspberries to serve
Put the biscuits in a plastic food bag and crush using a rolling pin.
Melt the butter with the syrup or honey in the microwave, then stir in the biscuits. Press onto the base and up the sides of a 12x36cm rectangular tin or a 23-25cm round flan tin. Put into the fridge and chill while you make the filling.
Break up the 2 chocolate bars and put in a bowl in the microwave for 2-3 minutes on medium, stirring half way through. Stir in the
vanilla extract, then sift in the icing sugar.
Whip the cream until it just holds shape, then fold into the melted chocolate mixture. Pour into the prepared tin and smooth the top.
Chill for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.
Just before serving, loosen the edges of the tart using a sharp pointed knife, then remove the tart from the tin and slide it onto a
flat plate. (This is easier if you have left the tart at room temperature for half an hour beforehand.)
Put a few teaspoons of crème fraiche along the centre of the tart (or around the edges if the tart is circular) and top each with a
raspberry, then dust lightly with icing sugar. Cut into thin slices and serve with extra raspberries on the side.