Did you know that this week is National BBQ Week? From Sunday May 28th until Sunday June 3rd, the UK will be celebrating its love of overcooked meat, endlessly searching for matches, ‘inventing’ condiments (mustard and ketchup mixed together will never not be excellent) and keeping one eye on the weather at all times in a state of constant panic over whether it’ll have to be called off.
It’s the stuff that British summers are made of, but we’ve all got to admit, it’s not necessarily the most fun when you’re stood in line with a dozen neighbours you’ve never met before all for a charcoal black sausage that’s going to make you ill for the next three days, as the rain starts to pour.
But barbecue food is great – when it’s been cooked properly, at least – so it can be a shame to miss out because of the weather. Instead, what you need is a Tefal OptiGrill. Even when it’s chucking it down outside, you can still enjoy all the food you’d usually throw on the barbie with your OptiGrill – even in the middle of winter.
Here’s a few ideas for what to cook in there come rain or shine, other than the usual burgers and sausages – even if National BBQ Week is a washout this year, you’ll still be eating lush grub:
Forget rib-eye, T-bone and sirloin; the steak of the moment is cauliflower. If you’re a committed carnivore, it can be a struggle to decide what to cook for veggie BBQ guests, but grilled cauliflower steaks are here to end your woes.
They’re super simple to make – as explained by Well Plated by Erin here – and uber healthy too. Of course, it is just sliced cauliflower, but with some careful grilling and some clever seasoning – think the kind of smoky, spicy flavours you’d usually have with meat – they’ll make a great addition to your barbecue repertoire.
Halloumi and vegetable skewers
Skewers are perfect party food. They’re so easy to prepare, you can make them as colourful as you like and the kids will love helping to thread bits of food on to them. Obviously, you can use chunks of marinated meat or fish or even tofu, or you could keep things simple – and lovely and healthy – with chopped vegetables.
Veggies are lovely grilled, especially things like peppers, courgettes, tomatoes and aubergines, as their outsides will crisp up while the inside stays soft and juicy, making them a delight to bite into – just make sure you serve them up with plenty of napkins.
Hungry Healthy Happy has a great recipe for halloumi and vegetable skewers which can be grilled or barbecued, making the cheese go beautifully crispy on the outside but dreamily gooey on the inside. Mmm.
Smoky barbecue marinades tend to be the order of the day at most summer parties, but you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment with flavours and influences from different cultures.
For something a little bit different, but still in keeping with the smoky spicy theme, these Jamaican-inspired grilled jerk chicken pieces from Sweet and Strong Blog come highly recommended.
Jerk marinade is typically made from cayenne pepper, onion and garlic powder, chilli, paprika, herbs and fresh lime juice, which come together to create a spicy yet zingy flavour. Bite into the meat, close your eyes and you could be on a Jamaican beach with the sun beating down and a shirtless waiter handing you a Pina Colada…almost.
Grilled garlic pitta bread
You need something to put your burgers and sausages on at a barbie, which means industrial-sized quantities of white finger rolls and over-processed rolls/barms/baps/cobs/buns/batches/whatever else you claim is the right term to call them are necessary. Or are they? *Cue dramatic music*.
Well, no, they’re not essential. Expand your bread horizons and try something a little bit different this summer. Take inspiration from Pikalily and season some shop-bought pittas with garlic and herbs – or go all Paul Hollywood and make your own – and toast them on your OptiGrill. Put your burger/sausages/skewer chunks inside, and we guarantee it’ll be absolutely lovely.
On the side: spicy salsa
You need a few sides at a BBQ too, and if you want to impress your neighbours and seem as though you’ve put in more effort than just getting out a half-used bottle of Tommy K, have a go at this incredibly tasty homemade salsa from This Muslim Girl Bakes.
Sweet, spicy and smoky all at the same time, it’ll go with everything on this list – except maybe the chocolate banana parcels…but we’re not going to stop you – and it doesn’t actually require any cooking.
Apple and tahini ‘slaw
Another fancy-looking and sounding side that’s actually really easy to make is coleslaw, or just ‘slaw, if you want to sound all hip and trendy. Traditionally, ‘slaw is made from grated cabbage and carrot, but this fancy pants ‘slaw from Queen of Tarts cranks things up a notch with the addition of green apple and tahini. Try it – you’ll feel incredibly sophisticated.
Obviously, if you’d still rather mix together ketchup and mustard to make your own special BBQ sauce, who are we to judge? You do you, as they say.
Something sweet: Chocolate banana parcels
After all of that meat and bread, something sweet can be welcome at a BBQ, and these chocolate banana parcels from Andy’s Kitchen are just the ticket – you could cook them on your OptiGrill too.
Warm banana with melted chocolate, gooey fudge, fresh strawberries and a dollop of ice cream certainly sounds top banana to us.