What to feed a vegetarian at a barbecue
Cooking over coals is so suited to vegetables, and almost any can be used. Undistracted by meat fat, I find the subtlety of veg allows the smoky hum of the coals to come even more alive.
Favourites this year have been wedges of summer cabbage, thin slices of skin-on sweet potato, chicories halved then dressed in a sweet vinaigrette … all grilled so that char marks tattoo themselves on to their exteriors, while their insides are soft and yielding.
Here are some more substantial ideas, to the age-old question that I seem to get asked every week of summer: what do you cook a vegetarian at a BBQ? Fingers crossed these are so good everyone will want some.
This has become a favourite veggie burger. I make this using vegetarian parmesan, but you could use a vegan cheese instead. Once cool, the uncooked burgers can be wrapped and frozen for up to four months.
Halloumi is a barbecue favourite for these flatbreads, but you could use feta, paneer or even tofu.
Caesar salad: the clean crunch of cos lettuce, the serious hit of flavour from the garlic-kissed dressing, the burnished golden-brown of a crouton. This version is a bit different: a quick char brings sweetness to the little lettuces, and tahini and garlic give a little punch to a dressing I make on repeat.
Try to buy smaller celeriac so they will fit in your buns. If you can only find a bigger one, cut the slices in half before blanching.
This is my take on Greek feta bouyiourdi, although I char my peppers first as it doubles the smoky hum. I use the pale yellow-green Turkish peppers: they are long and thin, sweeter and milder than their green pepper cousins, but, if you can’t find them, don’t worry. This is best done on the barbecue, but you can also char the peppers over a naked gas flame, then cook the parcels in the oven.
I couldn’t write a piece on cooking and eating outside and not include this recipe: one of my absolute favourites. Please be assured that this is not the breaded sweetcorn and mushroom mush excuse that usually shows up between two white buns. This is a hearty health-packed wonder that makes no apology to anyone.