Rukmini Iyer's gnocchi recipe from The Green Barbecue

3 surprising vegetarian BBQ recipes from Rukmini Iyer’s The Green Barbecue

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Veggie barbecue options have long deserved an upgrade – and Rukmini Iyer’s latest book of far-from-predictable recipes means we’ll all be catered for come grill season. 

Let’s face it: barbecues aren’t renowned as scenes of culinary delight if you’re eating meat-free. They’re fun, don’t get us wrong – but ask any vegetarian or vegan, and they’ll have a story of being served a rain-damaged hot dog bun with a still-slightly-frozen bean burger shoved inside.

This year though, we’ve got a feeling things are going to be different. Our summer plans have never had so much riding on them – and if anyone can rescue the barbecue, it’s Rukmini Iyer. The author of The Roasting Tin books (a maximum taste, minimal washing up series that’s sold over half a million copies), Iyer’s latest book, The Green Barbecue, is filled with simple-yet-delicious recipes for a plant-based grill party.

Green Barbecue author Rukmini Iyer
The Green Barbecue author Rukmini Iyer

With a mix of vegetarian and vegan dishes, The Green Barbecue doesn’t just contain the predictable corn on the cob-style options you might expect. Instead, there’s a mix of genuinely unexpected, fuss-free dishes with inspiration taken from around the globe. And, most importantly, none of them will need to be ‘finished off in the oven’.

Below, Iyer shares three standout recipes from her new book. For a serve-with-everything side dish, go for the crispy new potatoes. Iyer combines smoky chipotle with tarragon and peanuts to create a simple-yet-effective and deliciously savoury dish with interesting textures galore. We recommend making extra dressing, though – it’s so good you’ll want to drizzle it over every other dish at the table.

The Green Barbecue by Rukmini Iyer
The Green Barbecue by Rukmini Iyer is out now with Square Peg

If you’re a fan of gnocchi – come on, who isn’t? – then Iyer’s barbecued version is a must-try. Tender charred vegetables are threaded kebab-style onto skewers and interspersed with gnocchi that’s been coated in pesto, then heated fiercely to form a herby crust.

And of course, we haven’t forgotten about dessert. The not-too-sweet ‘summer pudding packet’ is the perfect end to any grill-based meal: Iyer describes it as a “deconstructed summer pudding”, but not in a MasterChef-y way that would provoke an eye-roll from John Torode. Instead, it’s a simple state of affairs in which summer fruit is tucked up in foil on the barbecue, and served with toasted brioche and a dollop of cooling mascarpone.

Now all we need is a rain-free weekend…

  • Simply barbecued new potatoes with tarragon, peanuts and chipotle

    Rukmini Iyer's barbecued potatoes recipe from The Green Barbecue
    Rukmini Iyer's barbecued potatoes recipe from The Green Barbecue

    Rukmini says: “The dressing for this dish is unusual – smoky chilli peanuts combined with tarragon – and somewhat addictive, especially when paired with crisp barbecued potatoes. You could easily use this as a dressing for grilled sweetcorn or mushrooms.”

    Serves: 4

    Prep: 15 minutes

    Cook: 30 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 600g new potatoes
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tsp sea salt flakes

    For the dressing:

    • 10g fresh tarragon, leaves finely chopped
    • 30g unsalted peanuts, finely chopped
    • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • a pinch of chipotle chilli flakes
    • a pinch of sea salt flakes

    Method

    Boil the potatoes in salted water for 7–8 minutes, until just cooked through. Drain well, then mix with the olive oil and sea salt flakes.

    Mix together the tarragon, peanuts, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, chipotle flakes and sea salt flakes to make the dressing. Taste and adjust the salt as needed, then set aside.

    Once your barbecue is good and hot, griddle the potatoes for 5–8 minutes per side, until nicely charred.

    Halve the barbecued new potatoes, mix with the tarragon dressing, and serve hot.

    Note

    If you have time, you can leave out the boiling stage and just cook the potatoes on the barbecue, in which case they will take about 1 hour

  • Crispy gnocchi – on a stick! – with charred peppers and basil pesto

    Rukmini Iyer's gnocchi recipe from The Green Barbecue
    Rukmini Iyer's gnocchi recipe from The Green Barbecue

    Rukmini says: “Could I write a book without featuring crispy gnocchi? Of course not. So I give you my proudest barbecue creation.

    “Forget about threading just plain old vegetables on a stick – here, you intersperse veg of your choice (I’ve done peppers here, but see the note below) on skewers with just-blanched gnocchi. The result is crisp perfection like you wouldn’t believe.”

    Serves: 3–4

    Prep: 15 minutes

    Cook: under 10 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 1 x 500g packet of gnocchi
    • 3 mixed peppers, chopped into gnocchi-size pieces (don’t use green peppers)
    • 2 tbsp vegan basil pesto
    • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing
    • a pinch of sea salt flakes
    • a good amount of freshly ground black peppercorns
    • 8–12 skewers, soaked if wooden

    For the dressing:

    • ½ lemon, juice only
    • 4 tbsp vegan basil pesto
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • a pinch of sea salt flakes

    Method

    Tip the gnocchi into a bowl of just-boiled water, and leave to blanch for 2 minutes, then drain and run under cold water to cool.

    Put the gnocchi into a large bowl with the chopped peppers, vegan pesto, olive oil, sea salt flakes and freshly ground black peppercorns, and mix well to coat. At this point you could refrigerate the gnocchi until you’re ready to barbecue.

    Thread the gnocchi and pepper alternately onto the skewers. Once your barbecue is good and hot, brush one side of the skewers with oil, then lay them over the barbecue at a slight angle (this stops them falling through) and cook for 4–5 minutes, until the gnocchi are crisp and brown.

    Brush the tops with oil, then turn over and repeat with the other side.

    Meanwhile, mix the lemon juice, pesto and extra virgin olive oil with a pinch of sea salt flakes to taste. Once the skewers are cooked through, serve immediately, with the basil dressing alongside.

    Note

    There’s really no limit to the number of things you could pair with gnocchi on a stick – try cherry tomatoes and halloumi or tofu, or cubes of fresh fennel and halved figs. And you could use red pesto or harissa or mustard mixed through with olive oil as a marinade.

  • Summer pudding packet: vanilla roasted berries with brioche mascarpone and almonds

    Rukmini Iyer's summer pudding recipe from The Green Barbecue
    Rukmini Iyer's summer pudding recipe from The Green Barbecue

    Rukmini says: “This deconstructed spin on a summer pudding (where deconstructed is code for much, much easier) lets you gently cook your fruit in a packet on the barbecue, and toast your brioche alongside. Replace the chilled mascarpone with ice cream, if you wish.”

    Serves: 4

    Prep: 10 minutes

    Cook: 10 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 150g blackberries
    • 275g raspberries
    • 225g blueberries or grapes
    • 2 tsp caster sugar
    • 1 vanilla pod, split
    • 8 slices of brioche
    • 4 tbsp chilled mascarpone
    • a handful of toasted almonds and fresh mint leaves, to serve

    Method

    Take a large piece of foil and place the blackberries, raspberries and blueberries or grapes in the middle.

    Scatter over the caster sugar, lay the vanilla pod on top, then fold the foil into a neat parcel, with the seams at the top.

    Once your barbecue is medium hot, place the foil packet on one side of the barbecue, and let the berries cook for 10–15 minutes.

    Meanwhile, toast your sliced brioche in batches on the other side of the barbecue, cutting them into triangles once toasted.

    Divide the lightly cooked fruit between four plates, with the toasted brioche. 

    Add a tablespoon of mascarpone, scatter over the toasted almonds and mint leaves, and serve hot.

The Green Barbecue: Modern Vegan & Vegetarian Recipes to Cook Outdoors & In by Rukmini Iyer (£17.99, Square Peg) is out now 

Photography: David Loftus

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