Barbeques on the Beach
Now that the summer has finally arrived, nothing beats eating and cooking outdoors. I love to spend a warm summers evening with family and friends enjoying good food cooked by the sea.
Here are my tips and ideas to help you stay safe this summer while barbequing, to create delicious food and to ensure that you are able to tread lightly on the beach!
To start with we’ve included one of my favourite barbecue recipes from the lovely Rukmini Iyer.
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.
Is it OK to barbecue on the beach?
Every beach is owned by somebody (usually the council, the National Trust or a private landowner) so it’s best to check before you decide to barbecue. Some beaches prohibit barbecues or have rules in place so a bit of research in advance is always worthwhile.
What kit do I need?
It’s well worth investing in a good non-disposable BBQ. Although disposable BBQs are light and cheap, they aren’t kind on the earth (being single use), don’t have much grill space and often damage the ground where they are used.
There are loads of non-disposable BBQs available so here are a few things to consider when choosing one :
- How many are you likely to cook for and how much grill space do you need?
- How easy is it to move around? If your nearest beach is down a steep cliff path, for example, you might not want one that takes 6 people to carry it!
- How easy is it to clean, and to store?
- Choosing one with a lid makes it easier to cook and shield from the wind, and helps the coals to cool down once you’re done.
Finally, be sure to test it out at home before using it for the first time just to make sure that you understand how to set it up and that everything is in working order.
What should I have in my 'BBQ Kit' grab bag
- Your BBQ and pack of coals. Instant lighting charcoal can make things so much easier
- A lighter or matches
- A picnic rug or blanket of some kind (our Bee throw is ideal)
- Some tongs to avoid scalds and dropping food in the sand!
- Bowl covers for covering salads and bowls of cooked food
- If you don't want the fuss of taking cutlery home to wash, consider recyclable cutlery and paper plates & cups. Fingers and napkins can be a fun way to eat, depending on what you’re cooking.
- Don’t forget to bring a bag for gathering left overs and dirty cutlery; it should be possible to recycle almost everything when you get home
- To avoid having to take more than you need, save small jars and pots for decanting your favourite condiments and keep them in your BBQ bag.
Plan Your Menu
- Plan your menu in advance and our top tip is to keep it simple. Think about how easy the food will be to eat on the beach, how long it will take to cook, how many you’re catering for and how much space you have on your BBQ grill.
- Some simple tasty sides, such as dips or toasted seeds will help to keep your guests happy while the main food cooks. Making these yourself will avoid taking unnecessary packaging to the beach
- Check that your grill is clean before you set off and get it heated up as soon as possible. A charcoal barbecue needs about 20 minutes to reach the perfect temperature, while gas ones need 10-15 minutes.
- If you’re planning on cooking chicken and poultry, cook it through in the oven before setting off and just give it a lovely smoky finish on the BBQ.
- Fresh seafood needs a lot less time to cook than meat, so bear that in mind when planning your cooking times.
- A good cool bag is handy for keeping your uncooked foods fresh and out of the sun and heat and great for carrying leftovers home afterwards.
Tread lightly and leave no trace
- Dispose of your coals safely. When you’re done cooking, starve the BBQ of oxygen by closing the lid and any vents and leave for a while. Then, using a large bottle or container, pour water over the coals to cool them down. Be careful because they will let off a lot of hot steam.
- Leave no trace behind. Check the beach before you leave and aim to recycle or reuse as much as possible
- Having a non-disposable BBQ means you can carry it easily back to the car and take it all home with you.
I'm sure that if you follow this advice you'll have a wonderful barbeque experience. Here are a few additional safety tips, which are always worth bearing in mind when you're at the beach either for your own BBQ's or other peoples!
Barbecue safety tips
- Make sure your BBQ is set up on a level, non-flammable flat surface away from anything that can catch fire such as fences, grasses, boats, trees and shrubs
- Never use petrol or paraffin to start or revive your barbecue; not only is this really dangerous, but it will ruin the taste of your food!!
- Never leave a BBQ unattended and keep children, pets and beach games away from the cooking area
- When setting up your BBQ, consider how the smoke might affect others
- After cooking, make sure the barbecue is cool before moving it. Don’t dispose of the barbecue until its completely extinguished and cold. Hot discarded barbecues can melt plastic bins and start fires. Covering hot coals with sand can just hold in the heat, and if someone comes walking barefoot where you’ve buried them they could seriously burn themselves. So plan some time to kick back and relax while the BBQ is cooling.
- Always leave the beach in a pristine condition.
Enjoy your barbeques and stay safe. If you have any top tips for barbeques or any great recipes we'd love to hear from you. Post your BBQ pictures on our social media pages. You can find us at Facebook or Instagram.
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