Did you know it’s National BBQ week? I love BBQs, so frankly I welcome any excuse to fire up the grill. But this year there’s even more of an incentive. National BBQ Week has joined forces with the charity Cure Leukaemia to create a Barbi for Britain fund-raising initiative. All money raised will be invested in the blood cancer charity’s national Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP). The idea is that your invite your friends round for a BBQ, and either charge an entry fee, or auction off your best grilled dishes. You can then donate your funds to the Cure Leukaemia Barbi for Britain Big Summer BBQ Just Giving page here.
Now, before I became a vegetarian BBQs were an easy entertaining option. The husband and I would just stock up on all the usual BBQ fare, with burgers and sausages taking centre stage. Now that I no longer eat meat or fish we’ve had to have a rethink. I still want to enjoy my BBQs, so I’ve done some research, and proudly present to you my favourite vegetarian BBQ ideas. (There are vegan options too.) Now all we need is some glorious sunshine to accompany them!
Grilled vegetable skewers with watercress salsa
A lot of people automatically associate kebabs with meat or fish. These colourful vegetable skewers are an appetising alternative, that taste as good as they look. I’m hoping to experiment with some home-grown ingredients soon. They really couldn’t be simpler to prepare. You simply mix all your glaze ingredients into a bowl, thread your selected veggies onto skewers, and brush with the glaze. Then cook on your BBQ (or grill) until the vegetables are beginning to char. The watercress salsa really does elevate these basic kebabs into something rather special. I’d recommend making this a little while in advance so the flavours really infuse.
Top tip: Serve with pittas or flatbreads to turn these skewers into a fabulous vegan sandwich!
Cheesy corn on the cob
Corn on the cob is an excellent, if fairly ordinary vegetarian BBQ recipe. But this upgraded version, which includes soured cream and two types of cheese, is absolute genius. I cannot recommend it highly enough! Like all the best vegetarian BBQ recipes, it’s very simple. There’s nothing more taxing than slicing, brushing and sprinkling. I like to finish these with a pinch of chilli flakes, a wedge of lime, and possibly some coriander.
Top tip: If you’re vegetarian like me, do check the emmental you’re using is suitable. And because they’re so delicious, always prepare more than you think you’ll need!
Sweet potato burger with sweet pepper relish
If you’re worried about food-related FOMO, here’s a vegetarian BBQ idea that will still allow you to tuck into a “burger” with all the trimmings. Sweet potatoes are nutritious and delicious. But I must admit I would never have thought of turning them into a meat-free burger before I came across this inspired Tracklements recipe. Full disclosure: this does require a bit of forward planning. You’ll need to roast the sweet potatoes in the oven before mixing and shaping them into burgers. There’s some chilling involved, too. But there are no complicated processes, so this recipe really does deliver maximum taste for minimum effort. You can build and garnish your burger however you like. I tend to stay fairly classic, with lettuce, tomato, onion – and a generous dollop of Tracklements Sweet Pepper Relish!
Top tip: Halve and warm your burger buns on the BBQ to intensify the smoky flavour.
Halloumi kebabs with relish and broad bean hummus
For me, halloumi is an obvious choice for any round-up of vegetarian BBQ ideas. Quite apart from the fact that it’s delicious, it has a higher melting point than many other cheeses. So it won’t fall through the grates. But it’s the accompaniments that really elevate this particular recipe for halloumi kebabs. I’d never tried broad bean hummus before, and really enjoyed this combination of tastes and textures. Canadian maple syrup features throughout, in the hummus, the sweet pepper relish and the kebabs. Its sweetness really complements the salty halloumi.
Top tip: Do use a mix of dark and golden Canadian maple syrup, as recommended in the recipe, in order to enhance the other flavours in the best possible way.
My penultimate vegetarian BBQ idea involves miso and aubergines – a match made in heaven. This recipe, courtesy of Olive Magazine, does involve a bit of peeling and prep, but trust me, it’s totally worth it. Have you tried mooli before? Popular in Asia, it’s a versatile type of radish that can be eaten raw or cooked. I’m a complete convert, and here it’s the perfect accompaniment to the soft, smoky aubergines.
Top tip: Again, double-check that your miso paste is vegetarian-friendly. And do use white miso if possible, as it has a milder, more delicate flavour.
Baked buffalo cauliflower wings
When I was researching vegetarian BBQ ideas I came across this intriguing recipe for baked buffalo cauliflower wings. Now, I must stress that these aren’t actually cooked on a BBQ; they should be oven-roasted. But they are, however, the perfect vehicle for barbecue sauce, which is, in my opinion, practically the whole point of a BBQ! I have always been a big sauce fan, and there is absolutely no substitute for home-made. My mother’s recipe is the best I’ve ever tasted, and I adore making it. So, I’m sharing the love by including it here. I hope you enjoy it just as much as I do:
Barbecue sauce recipe
2 tblspns malt vinegar
1/4 pt water
2 level tblspns (dark brown) sugar
1 level tblspn French mustard
1/4 level teaspoon pepper
Pinch of Cayenne pepper (or more depending on how fiery you’d like it!)
1 thick slice of lemon
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
Put the above ingredients into a saucepan and simmer gently for 20 minutes
1/4 pt tomato ketchup
2 tblspns Worcester sauce
Bring back to boil then you’re ready to serve (I remove the lemon) for four people
Since contracting COVID I’ve tried really hard to boost my immune system by eating sensibly and exercising regularly. Click here to discover my latest summer body workout tips and some delicious healthy breakfast ideas.