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Stories from the Studio

How About A Green Barbecue?

How About A Green Barbecue?

Did you ever find that barbecues used to be a bit awkward for vegetarians, with overcooked "cardboard" veggie sausages and burgers?

Fortunately, there are now many more choices for people who follow vegetarian and vegan diets, or who sometimes want to just like to eat a meat-free meal.

This choice is about to be extended with a new cookbook just out, ‘The Green Barbecue’ written by Rukmini Iyer.

The Green Barbecue by Rukmini Iyer (Square Peg 2021)

Extracted from: The Green Barbecue (Vegan & Vegetarian Recipes to Cook Outdoors and In) by Rukmini Iyer (Square Peg) 29th April 2021, £17.99 HBK Photography by David Loftus

You may know Rukmini as the bestselling author of The Roasting Tin series which contain simple one dish dinners.  My daughter is a huge fan of ‘The Green Roasting Tin’ which contains vegetarian and vegan recipes in one tin.  So quick, easy, time saving and totally delicious.  Perfect for time starved, hungry vegetarians and vegans.

Rukmini has now turned her attention to barbecue food, an area traditionally associated with meat heavy meals.  She has come up with a collection of 75 flavour packed, mouth-watering recipes, with over half of these entirely plant based, so great for vegans.

Rukmini Iyer from The Green Barbecue (Square Peg, 2021) Photography by David LoftusExtracted from: The Green Barbecue (Vegan & Vegetarian Recipes to Cook Outdoors and In) by Rukmini Iyer (Square Peg) 29th April 2021, £17.99 HBK Photography by David Loftus

We thought it might be a good idea to showcase a couple of her recipes as part of our blog this week, since she has visited this part of Cornwall regularly for holidays with friends (check out her Instagram) and we are so pleased to be running a joint promotion on Instagram.

Rukmini’s approach to a barbecue is hard to beat:

“I’m not sure there’s anything nicer than cooking and eating outside.  With good company, perhaps a dog or two, or even just contemplatively cooking a dish for yourself, it’s incredibly satisfying to break cooking down into its simplest components – one heat source, and a bit of food.”

The book has ideas from the simplest barbecue on the beach or park to outdoor feasts in your own garden, plus ideas for bad weather or if you don’t have space for outdoor cooking.

One of the things I enjoy about Rukmini’s books is that she mixes food from different traditions to come up with some really delicious recipes.

I loved the idea of Crispy Gnocchi!  Here’s what Rukmini says about it:

“Could I write a book without featuring crispy gnocchi? Of course not.  So, I give you my proudest barbecue creation. Forget about threading just plain old vegetables on a stick – here, you intersperse veg of your choice (I’ve done peppers here, but see the note below) on skewers with just-blanched gnocchi. The result is crisp perfection like you wouldn’t believe.”

CRISPY GNOCCHI - ON A STICK - WITH CHARRED PEPPERS & BASIL PESTO  from The Green Barbecue by Rukmini Iyer (Square Peg, 2021)

Vegan, Serves: 3–4

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: under 10 minutes

  • 1 x 500g packet of gnocchi
  • 3 mixed peppers, chopped into gnocchi-size pieces (don’t use green peppers)
  • 2 tablespoons vegan basil pesto
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • A pinch of sea salt flakes
  • A good amount of freshly ground black peppercorns
  • 8–12 skewers, soaked if wooden

FOR THE DRESSING

  • 1/2 lemon, juice only
  • 4 tablespoons vegan basil pesto
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • A pinch of sea salt flakes

Tip the gnocchi into a bowl of just-boiled water, and leave to blanch for 2 minutes, then drain and run under cold water to cool.

Put the gnocchi into a large bowl with the chopped peppers, vegan pesto, olive oil, sea salt flakes and freshly ground black peppercorns, and mix well to coat. At this point you could refrigerate the gnocchi until you're ready to barbecue.

Thread the gnocchi and pepper alternately onto the skewers. Once your barbecue is good and hot, brush one side of the skewers with oil, then lay them over the barbecue at a slight angle (this stops them falling through) and cook for 4–5 minutes, until the gnocchi are crisp and brown. Brush the tops with oil, then turn over and repeat with the other side.

Meanwhile, mix the lemon juice, pesto and extra virgin olive oil with a pinch of sea salt flakes to taste. Once the skewers are cooked through, serve immediately, with the basil dressing alongside.

NOTE: There’s really no limit to the number of things you could pair with gnocchi on a stick – try cherry tomatoes and halloumi or tofu, or cubes of fresh fennel and halved figs. And you could use red pesto or harissa or mustard mixed through with olive oil as a marinade.

Crispy Gnocchi - on a Stick! (with Roasted Peppers and Basil Pesto) from Rukmini Iyer The Green Barbecue Photography David LoftusExtracted from: The Green Barbecue (Vegan & Vegetarian Recipes to Cook Outdoors and In) by Rukmini Iyer (Square Peg) 29th April 2021, £17.99 HBK Photography by David Loftus

 

If you are thinking of more traditional barbecue fare then try out the Chipotle Mushroom and Black Bean Burgers with Peanuts and Lime.  It’s very quick to make and includes lots of my favourite ingredients.

Rukmini says:

“These burgers are ridiculously moreish – I like to serve them in buns with mayonnaise and pickles. Make life easier for yourself by cooking them in the oven first, then finishing them off with a quick warm-through on the barbecue before serving.”

CHIPOTLE MUSHROOM & BLACK BEAN BURGERS WITH PEANUTS & LIME from The Green Barbecue by Rukmini Iyer (Square Peg, 2021)

Vegan, Serves: 4

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 25 minutes

  •  50g smooth peanut butter
  • 1 x 400g tin of black beans, drained, but not rinsed
  • 2 small cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 heaped tablespoon rye flour
  • 1 lime, zest only
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms

 TO SERVE

  • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • A handful of chopped salted peanuts
  • A handful of chopped fresh coriander
  • 4 burger buns

 Put the peanut butter into a food processor with 60g of the black beans, the garlic, chilli flakes, cumin, olive oil, rye flour, lime zest and sea salt flakes, and blitz until you have a very thick paste. Tip it into a large bowl and stir in the rest of the black beans.

Tip the mushrooms into the processor – no need to wash it – and pulse until you have a dry mushroom mince. Stir this into the black bean mixture. With damp hands, form it into four thick burgers and arrange them on a lined baking sheet.

Bake in the oven at 180C fan/200C/gas 6 for 25–30 minutes. When they’ve got 10 minutes left, gently flip them over so they can crisp up on the other side.

They’re ready to serve straight from the oven, but for a nice bit of smokiness you can let them cool down, then finish them on a medium barbecue for a couple of minutes per side.

Squeeze over the lime wedges and top with a handful of chopped peanuts and coriander, then sandwich them into lightly grilled burger buns.

Chipotle Mushroom and Black Bean Burgers with Peanuts and Lime from The Green Barbecue by Rukmini Iyer Photography by David LoftusExtracted from: The Green Barbecue (Vegan & Vegetarian Recipes to Cook Outdoors and In) by Rukmini Iyer (Square Peg) 29th April 2021, £17.99 HBK Photography by David Loftus

I’m sure that you’ll agree that these recipes are simply wonderful. I love getting new inspiration for food and as the weather warms up it's the perfect opportunity to explore the possibilities of cooking vegetarian and vegan food on a barbecue.  We wish her all the best with the launch!

Let us know of your favourite barbecue recipe, or tell us how you get on with the ideas in this blog through our social media channels, here are the links for Facebook or Instagram.

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