This summer I’ve spent a serious amount of time bonding withÂ the flashy new three burner barbeque that dominates my tiny apartment balcony. Together we’ve covered all my old favourites: baby chickens butterflied and marinated in an ancho chile paste, salmon fillets seared intil crispy skinned but still meltingly pink inside, sourdough bread from Bourke St Bakery charred for bruschetta, home grown lamb cutlets marinated with olive oil and rosemary, chilli salt squid, whole baby barramundi drizzled with a spicy chermoula sauce, addictive moroccan merguez sausages from the sausage kings AC butchery, even our Christmas turkey and glazed ham (thanks for the tip Mands). But by far the biggest explosion in my barbeque repetoire has been in the vegetable department.
For some time now I’ve been a convert of barbequed zucchini (courgettes) charred with well marked lines all buttery inside. This is vegetable alchemy. Tossed with some fresh mint leaves and a peppery olive oil, they make the perfect accompaniment to bbq fish or chicken. Or the old classic corn on the cob which needs the simple preparation of soaking in cold water for an hour (or as long as you can wait) before barbequing covered on a medium heat until the husk is all charred and the inner kernels are cooked to smoky perfection. Or then there’s slender asparagus that have been delicately seared so they are just beginning to loose their crunch. Perfect as a starter served with a rich nutty pistachio & roasted garlic mayonnaise…who needs meat?
Then there are those elegant japanese eggplantÂ that don’t need salting, just chopping in half and bbqing until squishy in the middle and well marked on the outside. Actually thanks to Fratelli Fresh I’ve been able to expand my barbequed eggplant repetoire to include cute white skinned eggplant, exotic pink mottled skinned ones and even the delicious pale purple coloured…endless possibilities.
It all started with a Jamie Oliver inspired repetoire of bbq eggplant, red capsicum, wedges of red onion and sliced zucchini tossed while still warm in a red wine vinegarette spiked with garlic and allowed to marinate for a few minutes before serving either with hommous or chunks of creamy ricotta….the prefect mid week dinner that makes plenty of leftovers for sandwiches at work. Being the exploratory type I started to expand the bbq mix and soon I found I was throwing on whatever I had at hand: field mushrooms, green onions (aka shallots in Australia that become a delicious sweet oniony wilted mass), thinly sliced sweet potato, sliced fennel, baby leeks, green beans, red onion cut into wedges. I found that as long as the heat wasn’t too high and the vegies were sliced thin enough everything benefited from a brush with the barbie.
I then chanced across another Jamie Oliver recipe that took my bbq veg obsession to the next level: bbq lettuce…. A delicious looking salad of radicchio charred briefly until just beginning to wilt andÂ burn then tossed and a rosemary, garlic & balsamic vinegar dressing..sweet smokey goodness.Â After a few successes with this as an accompaniment I decided to turn it into a main course salad….the result: bbq radicchio & swiss brown mushroom salad with toasted walnuts & goats cheese….all good things….
bbq radicchio & swiss brown mushroom salad with toasted walnuts & goats cheese
Inspired by the marinated bbq radicchio in jamie’s latest book: jamie’s italy. The beauty of this is that the mushrooms take on a lovely smoky flavour when charred directly on the bbq. Feel free to vary the nuts and cheese that you use
1 head radicchio, leaves separated and washed
8 medium swiss brown mushrooms, wiped clean and halved
a handful walnuts, toasted
100g goats cheese, crumbled
1 small garlic clove
2 small sprigs rosemary very finely chopped
2T balsamic vinegar
4T extra virgin olive oil
handful flat leaf parsley leaves picked
For dressing, peel garlic and finely chop with a sm pinch salt. Transfer to a large bowl and add balsamic vinegar, oil, & rosemary. season with s&p.
bbq mushrooms without oil until well marked on each side and then place in the bowl with the dressing. bbq the radicchio leaves for about 10sec until charred and starting to wilt. add to the mushrooms and dressing and toss to combine.
divide vegetables between two plates and drizzle over dressing. tear over parsley & scatter with walnuts & cheese and serve with crusty sourdough bread.
bbq marinated veg
serves 4 as a side dish.
I had to include this for Lou and Mel who enjoyed the platter of bbq veg I took recently to Lou’s lovely birthday picnic in McKell park…. In Jamie’s version he uses basil which he bashes up and then combines with the oil but I prefer to use thyme which IÂ am more likely toÂ have on hand. You can blacken the capsicum skins and peel if you like but I prefer to leave the skins on and just char the capsicum strips until cooked through but not too black…saves peeling..
2 red capsicum (peppers) cut into long strips
4 zucchini (courgettes), sliced lengthways
4 japanese eggplant (aubergine), halved lengthways (or 1 large regular eggplant siced into 1cm rounds)
8 green onions cut into lengths approx the same as the zucchini.
extra virgin olive oil
2T red wine or herb vinegar
1 clove garlic
3 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
slice garlic finely & combine in a large bowl with vinegar, thyme, 4T oil. season with s&p.
toss veg in a light coating of oil and bbq on a med heat until charred and cooked through. as each veg becomes cooked transfer to the dressing bowl and toss to combine.
best served warm or at room temp after the veg have had a chance to soak up the dressing and their juices have made a delicious sauce.