If you have any sense, then the moment the thermometer starting to regularly surpass the 20°C mark you threw away all your pots and pans, dismantled your hob and oven, and started cooking exclusively on the barbecue.
All food is nicer when it’s cooked on the barbecue. Whether it’s the smoky taste imparted by the coals, the sun shining down on you when you cook, or the generous amounts of alcohol most imbibe when cooking outside, it’s just better.
The only slur against the good name of barbecue is the horrendous lack of imagination when it comes to what people cook on it. Sausages, burgers and chicken drumsticks, time after time, with the occasional discounted kofta kebab that’s closing in on its sell by date.
RECOMMENDED: 5 Healthy BBQ Recipes
To truly make the most of barbecue season you need to start grilling fruit and veg. You heard us. Slide those black-on-the-outside, raw-on-the-inside drumsticks out of the way and make room on the grill for some aubergine.
Here’s Andrew Clarke, chef at Brunswick House, veg-grilling expert and part of Tabasco’s #BetterBBQ campaign, with some tips for making meat-free barbecues great.
Remember The Ember
Ember roasting – where you put food directly on the coals to cook – is set to be this year’s hottest (ahem) barbecue trend, and it works better with vegetables than meat or fish.
“Ember roast your root vegetables for even more flavour,” says Clarke.
“Butternut squash is a great one to try. Try roasting one whole for two to three hours. Once blackened, scrape off the charred outside to reveal the smoky, melt-in-the-mouth velvety texture of the squash. Mix Tabasco Chipotle Sauce in with some mayo to give the dish an even richer smoky flavour.”
Mix Things Up With Meat-Free Steaks
If you’ve got the barbecue skills to pay the bills, you can convince even the most ardent meat lover to try a veggie steak alternative.
“Finding mains that meat lovers and vegetarians can agree on can be daunting, so try barbecuing aubergine,” says Clarke.
“It has all of the texture of a steak but without the meat. It’s also versatile, so you can use almost any dressing or sauce for serving.”
RECOMMENDED: Try This Smoky Sichuan Aubergine Recipe
Grill Your Dessert
It’s not just veggies that taste delicious off the grill. Raid your fruit bowl for a charred sweet dessert.
“Fruits are delicious when you take them to the grill, because the high heat caramelises the sugars,” says Clarke.
“Grilled pineapple is a brilliant dish to round off a barbecue. Try it with a spicy glaze – I’m currently mixing up one that’s part agave syrup, brown sugar, lime juice and Tabasco Habanero Sauce. The heat and Caribbean flavours of the sauce cut through the sweetness of the pineapple.”
Bring On The Crumbs
Yes, breadcrumbs – the inexpensive extra that can transform any dish into a winner.
“Add texture and flavour to your summer barbecue dishes with spicy breadcrumbs,” says Clarke.
“Just coat slices of bread in some hearty dashes of Tabasco Sauce and allow them to dry out in the oven on a low temp. Then blitz in a blender to form breadcrumbs and sprinkle liberally to round off softer dishes like cooked veggies and summer salads.”