David and Stephen Flynn, otherwise known as The Happy Pear, share their top tips for a successful vegetarian barbecue. From what type of barbecue is best, to how to get the most from your veggies, you'll be grilling up a vegetarian feast in no time. David and Stephen's book, The World of The Happy Pear, is filled with more delicious recipes and inspiration.
We’ve both been veggies since 2002, and only recently discovered the fun of barbecuing vegetables! Cooking outside, over fire (even if it is gas), you feel connected to the cooking process and really appreciate your food. And most veg cook wonderfully on a barbecue – it brings out their sweetness and the raw heat gives them a lovely charred edge.
WHAT TYPE OF BARBECUE IS BEST?
A charcoal barbecue will add the extra flavour of the wood and smoke to your food that you won’t get with gas, and it’s our preference. However, we use gas most of the time ourselves, as it’s more convenient.
When cooking vegetables on a barbecue, a big grilling area is best. You’ll need more space than when cooking meat. Ideally, the bigger the barbecue the better.
OUR FIVE FAVOURITE VEGGIES TO BARBECUE
AUBERGINES: One of Steve’s favourite veg on the barbecue. Slice them lengthwise about ½cm thick, brush with a little oil and sprinkle with salt, then grill until they go soft and gooey and stripy. They normally take about 5 minutes to cook. They are super versatile and can be used to make wonderful canapes and rolls.
COURGETTES: These can be a little watery, bland and uninteresting, but on a barbecue they really come into their own. The heat seems to release their potential and you get a crispy charred exterior and a warm gooey juicy centre! They take about 5 minutes to cook. They add an extra dimension to a veggie burger, and roll up really well to make fancy canapes.
PEPPERS: Sweet bell peppers can often get a bad rep, but like courgettes, when charred and barbecued, they really are at their best. Just slice off the bottom and cut the pepper into 4 sections – giving 4 sides and the bottom. Brush each piece with a little oil, sprinkle with salt and cook on the grill until they start to char and blister. They normally take 6–7 minutes, provided the barbecue is hot. Alternatively, if you are using charcoal, peppers cook wonderfully right inside the coals, where the skin blisters and chars beautifully while the insides remain juicy, sweet and soft. Just put them whole into the charcoal until the skin starts to blister, then brush off the charcoal, rinse and get stuck in!
ASPARAGUS, FRENCH BEANS, SUGAR SNAPS, MANGETOUT, FLAT BEANS: Not obvious barbecue vegetables, but they all work brilliantly – crispy on the outside and soft, sweet and juicy inside! Just toss with a little oil and salt and cook until they start to char and get grill marks.
CHERRY VINE TOMATOES: Put a whole vine on the barbecue and leave until the tomatoes pop – our dad loves to do this. They make any plate they are on look prettier and are warm balls of sweet juiciness . . . nice one, Dad!
Get the recipe for The Happy Pear's Grilled Halloumi Burgers with Chilli Ketchup and Tahini Mayo pictured above.