Simple, high-heat cooking, followed with the right seasoning is arguably one of the best ways to cook in the summer. It gives you the chance to be outside, experiment with different ingredients that tend to deliver flavours like no other
It can transform any vegetable, piece of meat or fish or even cheese into something completely delicious and unexpected. You don’t even need to have an outdoor or fancy barbecue to achieve tasty results. A little portable barbecue they can be taken to the park (where permitted) can still produce the desired charred and smoky results.
Although cooking over fire has a reputation for being too complex or risky, once you’ve got the basics down, you’ll soon be a master griller.
First you want to make sure the barbecue is hot enough before you even think about starting to cook. You’ll know it’s ready when the flames have died down a little and the coals have turned white.
The next fundamental element is the area of the barbecue or grill you cook on. Direct cooking (where the item is directly over the heat source) and indirect cooking (cooking off to the side), will achieve different results. Setting up the barbecue so you can have one side for cooking on the direct heat and the other for keeping the food warm allows you to have the space to move things around if something starts to cook too quickly. Just think of it like turning the heat up and down on the hob.
If you want to become the next king or queen of the grill then a few simple investments may help. A quality set of tongs and a spatular would be a good start, because no one wants burnt fingers. A thermometer if you are more cautious about meats being undercooked (but not overcooked obviously) and if you want to go all out, why not invest in a new barbecue too?
We thought we would share some tips and a simple, really delicious grilled vegetable recipe you can try next time you decide to light up the coals!
Any vegetable really will work on a grill, such as cauliflower, peppers and carrots as well as broccoli, courgette/zucchini and asparagus. Don't be afraid to experiment either with what you have or what you like to eat. Adding a flavour enhancer such as onions, garlic or lemon, brings out bold flavours and add a certain sharpness to the dish. Once you have your choice of vegetable, next you are going to lightly season them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Once the grill is hot (remember you want the coals turning white if barbecuing), charr the vegetables to your desired taste. Heartier, root vegetables will take longer so make sure these hit the flames first before adding the softer veg that will cook in much less time.
When everything is cooked how you like it, serve on a platter like we have with a delicious dressing of olive oil, the juice from the charred lemon and a sprinkle of chilli flakes and salt. Feel free to mix up the flavours though. Some fresh rosemary or za’atar would be equally delicious.
You could have these grilled vegetable as the perfect side to any meat, fish or cheese that has also been grilled or if you fancy something different, mixed through a grains salad with some toasted seeds and nuts would make a perfect vegetarian summer salad.
By Kathryn Norris
Photos and recipe by Noreen Wasti @noreenwasti