Whatever the weather has in store during the summer, we Brits aren’t easily put off having a barbeque. Any meat, fish or other main course cooked outdoors on a smoky flame somehow tastes special, especially when accompanied by a cold beer or a nicely chilled glass of white wine, or even one of our mocktails.
But the big question is: what do you serve alongside your sausages, burgers or grilled chicken breast? To get the best out of your outdoor barbie experience, especially when you’ve invited all your friends to come over, you need to do a bit of advance indoor preparation in the kitchen, and use all the time saving tricks you can think of.
We’ve collated three easy side dishes that you can make with the minimum of space and time.
Crispy Salt & Vinegar Potatoes (serves 6)
Here’s a seriously delicious upgrade to the humble salt & vinegar crisp that you can proudly serve at any BBQ party.
1kg small (ideally Fingerling) potatoes, cut in half
1 tbsp sea salt
200ml distilled white vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
Chives to garnish
Preheat the oven to 220C and line a baking tray greaseproof paper.
In a large saucepan, place the potatoes, salt and vinegar, then add enough cold water to cover the potatoes by about an inch. Boil for 25-30 minutes until fork tender, drain and dry a clean tea towel and set aside.
Generously coat the still warm potatoes with olive oil, then spread them out evenly on the baking tray. Bake for 25 minutes, then turn/stir them every 5 minutes to allow them to get crispy without burning. After about 10 minutes when they’re nice and crispy, remove them from the oven, season with extra salt and finish off with a sprinkle of chives.
Grilled Courgette & Cherry Tomato Salad (serves 4)
Chargrilled courgettes on the barbeque taste nice cold too, especially when chopped up and mixed into a salad.
1 large courgette
500g cherry or plum tomatoes
Handful of fresh herbs – basil, chives, oregano, sage
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp coarse sea salt
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Cut the courgette across the middle, then slice lengthways. Depending on the thickness, you will have 4 or 8 slices. Brush all sides with olive oil and put under the grill for about 5 minutes, turning once. You are looking for chargrilled marks while the courgette is hot through and still juicy but not too soft.
Next, cut up the courgette into bite sized pieces, cut the cherry tomatoes in half and mix together. Chop all the herbs finely and add, along with the balsamic vinegar and an extra tablespoon of olive oil. Mix in the grated Parmesan, salt and pepper and adjust the taste as necessary.
Garlicky Roasted Broccoli (serves 4)
Roasting rather than steaming your broccoli gives a lovely crunch and, of course, has that irresistible garlicky goodness.
50ml olive oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
6 garlic cloves (peeled)
1 tsp sea salt
Lemon wedges to garnish
Cut the broccoli into little florets and cut the stem into bite sized pieces, then set aside.
Make a sauce by blending oil, vinegar and salt in a food processor until thick and creamy. Alternatively, mash the garlic and whisk into the other liquid ingredients. Add cayenne pepper if desired. Pour the sauce over the raw broccoli and spread out evenly on a baking sheet.
Roast for 12-15 minutes in a preheated oven (200C) until the edges are singed and the broccoli is tender but still retains a bit of crunch. Serve hot or cold with lemon wedges.
If you want to be a bit more adventurous, try this alternative sauce: Toss the raw florets with a few strips of chopped (uncooked) bacon and diced dates before putting in the oven. The bacon will cook and crisp together with the broccoli while the dates will soften in the oven. Once removed from the oven, sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese.