'Revolutionary' is a strong word, but when it comes to Rukmini Iyer's bestselling Roasting Tin cookbook series, it's hard to avoid superlatives. As Rukmini's many devotees will attest, the Roasting Tin books transformed weeknight cooking from a daily drag into a effortlessly elegant and deliciously rewarding process. With her latest, much-anticipated book The Green Barbecue, Rukmini has turned her attentions to world of outdoor cooking, with similarly gamechanging results. Bursting with joyful, vibrant summer recipes, The Green Barbecue will totally change the way you think about vegetarian and vegan barbecue food. From juicy pineapple and charred halloumi skewers to umami-rich chipotle, mushroom, and black bean burgers, these recipes are sure to take centre stage at many an outdoor gathering this summer. We could not wait to get our hands on this book, and as soon as we did, we got cooking. Scroll on to see the results of our efforts . . .
Who: Jessica Lockyer-Palmer - Marketing Manager, The Happy Foodie
What I made: Griddled Pineapple, Halloumi and Mint Skewers and Squash + Charred Carrots, Red Onion, Coriander Seed, Lime and Pistachio.
What I thought: As someone who regularly does an entire week’s worth of dinners from Rukmini Iyer’s Roasting Tin series, you can imagine my excitement at the news that the queen of fuss-free food was turning her attention to the most revered of summer eating events: the barbecue. Not only does The Green Barbecue promise the same laid-back approach to cooking that we all know and love from Rukmini’s previous books, all of the recipes are vegetarian and vegan, which in my mind makes for a much more creative spread. In place of (let’s face it - quite often dry and lacklustre) meat there are tender vegetable kebabs, peppers oozing with melted cheese, meat-free burger patties packed with flavour and a very encouraging quantity of recipes featuring halloumi. And because you just can’t argue with the retro classic combo that is pineapple and cheese, it was these halloumi skewers with pineapple, chilli and mint that caught my eye during my first foray into cooking from the book. Burnished and crisp on the outside and soft and creamy in the middle, the salty halloumi is perfectly offset by sweet pineapple, warm chilli and fragrant mint. I would happily opt for these as a centrepiece over meat skewers any barbecue of the week.
I also opted for an additional dish of tender squash and baby carrots with just the right amount of bite finished with a spectacularly flavourful dressing of crushed coriander seeds, peppercorns and lime. Rukmini’s ability to completely transform ingredients with a dressing is one of the signature elements of her recipes that I particularly love and this dish is a shining example. I am excited both to try more from this brilliant book and to return to make these two recipes on repeat this summer.
Who: Rhiannon Griffiths - Online Editor, Dead Good, Penguin
What I made: Sichuan Aubergine Wedges with Black Bean Sauce
What I thought: In my house, we love a barbecue. The minute the temperature outside reaches ten degrees, we’re out there firing it up – but in a classic turn of events, when preparing for this one no one thought to check the coals and they turned out to be too damp to use. Thankfully lots of Rukmini’s dishes in The Green Barbecue are easily achievable in the kitchen too, so, undeterred, I cracked out the griddle pan for this recipe. In no time at all we were tucking into soft, charred, salty-sweet aubergine with a wonderfully spicy kick. This really is one of those fool-proof recipes that requires minimum effort but results in maximum flavour – it’s quick, easy and absolutely delicious, and I’ll definitely be making it again.
Who: Claire Daverley - Marketing Manager, Page Turners, Penguin
What I made: Vietnamese Griddled Tofu with Tomatoes and Spring Onions
What I thought: Who said BBQs were just for weekends?! This was a complete delight of a midweek meal. In all fairness, I did cheat, and didn’t actually use my outdoor barbecue, but the results were still delicious and the summer vibes still plentiful. It’s a super easy dish to prep, with barely any chopping necessary except for the tofu and spring onions. In place of the BBQ, I whacked the tomatoes in the oven on a really high heat in a lidded Pyrex bowl, and cooked the tofu on a griddle. It was a brilliantly tasty dinner, with the sweetness from the sugar and cherry tomatoes meeting the zip from the garlic and citrus, and the meaty tofu absorbing all of that wonderful flavour. I served it in wraps and with a side salad. Maybe up the quantities if you’re particularly hungry – or just cook it as an impressive side dish or light lunch.
Who: Indira Birnie - Senior Manager, Audience Marketing, Penguin
What I made: Chipotle Mushroom and Black Bean Burgers with Peanut and Lime + Blackened Peppers with Walnuts, Chilli and Fennel Seeds
What I thought: The power of Rukmini Iyer’s Roasting Tin books has always been her ability to create vibrant, flavourful recipes with a minimal ingredient list and fuss-free cooking methods. With her latest book, she transports the same tried-and-trusted formula from the roasting tin to the barbecue; the book is filled with mouth-watering dishes suited to the way many of us want to eat in warmer weather – lots of easy, veg-centric bits that can be pulled together into a delicious feast.
After much indecision, I settled on two recipes: chipotle mushroom and black bean burgers and a grilled pepper salad. Both recipes required little prep, with a food processor making light work of both the burgers and the pesto that accompanies the peppers. I’m a fan of bean burgers anyway, but my partner was pleasantly surprised by the depth of flavour in these. The grilled peppers, meanwhile, really do feel like a taste of the summer: deliciously smoky from the charring, with a nice, unctuous zing from the pesto. Normally, these would feel like the sort of recipes you’d save for the weekend when you’ve got more time to prep, but they were both incredibly easy to fit into a weeknight dinner schedule – and felt all the more treatful for it.
Who: Katrina Northern, - Senior Marketing Executive, Vintage Publishing
What I made: Crispy Gnocchi – on a stick! – with Charred Peppers and Basil Pesto
What I thought: Since discovering the marvels of crispy gnocchi in The Green Roasting Tin, I have been devoted to it. Putting it on a stick seemed like a fun next step and these crispy gnocchi skewers do not disappoint. Living in a flat in London means I don’t usually have access to a barbecue, but these recipes work just as well under a grill in the oven or on an electric grill.
Tofu, halloumi, fresh fennel, figs and cherry tomatoes are among the other ingredients that Rukmini recommends adding to the mix. Inspired by the veg box I receive from a local grocer, I used peppers, as suggested, but also some aubergine, mushrooms and halloumi (an excellent addition to anything). Using a food processor, I whizzed together my own pesto seasoning with some basil, oil, garlic and lemon juice
It’s very quick and easy to put the skewers together and they’re done in a few minutes once the grill is hot - just make sure to rotate them evenly! As recommended, I brushed them with the pesto mixture as they cooked and then drizzled some over at the end. The mild tangy, citrusy flavour with its basil twist perfectly complements the crispy gnocchi and the Mediterranean vegetables. I recommend making more than you think you need as they’re very addictive and not heavy; a perfect dish to add to the mix in a barbecue with friends. It’s one that you can reinvent each time you make it, depending on what you have to hand. I’m just excited to have another crispy gnocchi recipe to fawn over and recommend to everyone I know.
Who: Vasu Siva - Marketing Development Executive, Penguin
What I made: Crispy Barbecue Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Cashews, Carrots & Nuoc Cham + Charred Asparagus with Chilli, Peanuts and Coconuts
What I thought: Having heard all the rave reviews, I’m almost ashamed to admit this was my first time attempting a Rukmini Iyer recipe (sorry tinlads!). After cooking these tofu wraps and bbq asparagus I can totally understand why her recipes are so popular. As someone who hates a long process, I found both recipes super easy to follow, quick to work through and built with some really interesting flavours and textures.
I was excited to test out the Tofu Lettuce wraps as I tend to be very boring with the way I use tofu (either in soups or curries). The smells while making this were sublime and I found the sides really helped pull this whole dish together. The wraps were so fresh, but also filling - and the veg nuoc cham was a hit!
I also attempted the Charred Asparagus with Chilli, Peanuts & Desiccated Coconut. This was spicier than I had anticipated and I loved that about the dish (word of warning to those who have a lower tolerance, though). I look forward to experimenting with this chilli, peanut and coconut mix in future and will be charring my asparagus more often from now on. I also appreciated having the recipes for the dressings and dips included in the instructions, as you can definitely play around and incorporate them into other dishes. Overall I’d recommend both these recipes and look forward to testing out more from the book soon.
Who: Genevieve Halbert - Marketing Executive, The Happy Foodie
What I made: Lime Pickle, Butternut Squash and Halloumi Burgers + Tomato and Red Onion Guacamole + Gunpowder Potatoes
What I thought: I would never have thought of combining lime pickle with squash and halloumi, much less in burger form, but wow: it's a winner. A testament to Rukmnini Iyer's genius for flavour! The burgers were super-simple to make (there are just a handful of ingredients involved) and tasted truly incredible. I served them with toasted sourdough buns, some yoghurt, and a fresh, lime-heavy guacamole. There were three of us eating and all six burgers vanished with alarming rapidity.
I also made the Gunpowder Potatoes as a side, and they very nearly stole the show. The lemon juice is the secret ingredient here; it really makes the crispy, spice-coated potatoes and sweet roasted red onion sing.
There was a deluge of rain on the night I made this, so I couldn't use the barbecue, but was able to cook everything to perfection in the oven (I used a frying pan to crisp up the burgers). What I love about The Green Barbecue is that you can pull these recipes off indoors or outdoors - just the kind flexibility we need in this unpredictable climate!