When the sun comes out people in the UK seem to skip around with big smiles on their faces, warm hearts, and sometimes, shock horror, even talk to strangers on the tube. Okay, maybe the last part is going a bit too far, but people are definitely happier when the sun comes out as it can be a rare occurance.
Having a baking hot Sunday last weekend was a big relief (and almost made up for the few days of torrential rain that followed). It was a cue for everyone to go a bit BBQ crazy. As an Australian I felt it was my duty to follow suit and partake in the first BBQ of the year in our little back garden.
Our BBQ has been an important fixture since we bought our house, and not just because of my Aussie roots. When we moved in a few years back we didn’t have an oven so cooked everything on the BBQ for the first few months. It was a bit of a novelty initially, but after a few weeks it did get a bit tedious. We were craving stir fries and other dishes that the little hob ring on the BBQ couldn’t quite manage.
We therefore invested £6 in an ancient electric oven from eBay. I’m not joking when I say it was life changing. I could even bake again – though the temperature was a little variable which meant the results were sometimes ‘interesting’ until we bought a proper oven. Still, it was better than trying to BBQ everything in sight. Though I never did try making a cake in the BBQ. Maybe that’s a challenge for this summer…
Fortunately our BBQ overdose didn’t dampen my love of a good garden grilling session. And I still have so many fond memories of all the BBQs we had growing up. In those days I ate meat, and we would have plates of big juicy sausages and steaks that glistened in the sunshine. One of my favourite things was the bread that my mum would butter on both sides and then cook on the BBQ hot plate to soak up all the meat juices. It was truly delicious.
Meat doesn’t feature in my diet now, but I never feel deprived as there are so many other things you can cook on the BBQ (as I discovered in our BBQ-bound cooking times). I also get excited about the accompaniments; every BBQ needs fresh crunchy salads to accompany all the hot barbecued meats, seafood, halloumi, or whatever you like to heat up on the grill. Ideally there should be lots of colour and a bit of refreshing creaminess to balance out the other rich BBQ flavours.
I particularly like a nice coleslaw, so I thought this would be perfect side to our Sunday afternoon BBQ. However when I checked out the ingredients in my fridge I realised I had a sad little celeriac sitting there all alone waiting to be eaten. It just called out ‘remoulade’ to me. But I also had carrots that were saying coleslaw. Not wanting to leave either out, I thought a combination of the two might just work. And so I created a ‘remou-slaw’ (see what I did there?).
I also had just the thing to make the salad with. Joseph Joseph kindly sent me a ‘Peeling Perfectionist‘ kit of three peelers a couple of weeks back and I’ve been playing around with different ways of creating strips of vegetables and zest. I particularly love the julienne peeler as it’s much quicker than using my little handheld spiralizer and neater than my chopping. I also found julienning a surprisingly satisfying and relaxing task – but that might just be me!
This week’s recipe is therefore a zesty mix of vegetable strips tossed with a fresh creamy dressing made from sheep’s milk yoghurt. The dressing is a bit less rich than mayonnaise and takes seconds to mix up. To my mind it tastes a lot fresher and more lively than that jar of mayonnaise that’s been sitting in the fridge door for the last 3 months.
This is definitely a very easy salad that you can throw together in 15 minutes, using whatever vegetables you have in the fridge, so feel free to experiment. For the dressing, you can also play around with herbs and spices you have in the kitchen. You really want to be spending time chatting around the BBQ with a glass of wine or a nice cool beer rather than being stuck in the kitchen cooking, so make things easy for yourself!
I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a nice summer so I’ll have the chance to make a few more of these salads. And staying on the salad theme, I also have a special salad evening event coming very soon. There will be tasting meditation, flavour experiments and the chance to design your own special dressing. Keep an eye out for the details as they will be up on my site in the next week.
Extra tip: you might notice that the ingredients below suggest using half of some vegetables; feel free to use the whole thing if you want to bulk out the salad or alternatively just slice up the leftover pieces into strips, coat in olive oil and pop on the BBQ.
Simple Summer Remou-slaw
Serves 3-4 as a side, 1-2 as a main
2 medium carrots, skin peeled off
1/4 celeriac, tough outside skin removed
1/2 medium courgette
2 spring onions, finely chopped
Zest of 1/2 lemon
50g sheep’s milk natural yoghurt (you can substitute regular natural yoghurt)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tspn Dijon mustard
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1 tspn zatar (if you don’t have zatar you can substitute oregano or mixed Italian herbs)
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
Season with salt & pepper
1. Either cut or peel the carrot, celeriac and courgette into thin strips. Mix together in a bowl before adding the spring onions and lemon zest. Toss everything together.
2. Next make the dressing. Whip the yoghurt, oil and lemon juice together. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir so that everything is well combined.
3. Cover the vegetables with the dressing and mix everything together so that the vegetables are well coated. I love doing this with my hands as it’s the best way of completely combining the salad and dressing, but if you really don’t want to get your hands dirty you can use a spoon (though it’s nowhere near as fun).
4. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for about an hour or so before eating. The salad will keep for a couple of days in the fridge if you don’t eat it all straight away.
Some other options to consider:
– If eating this as a main, stir through half a tin of chickpeas and add a handful of chopped cherry tomatoes
– Add crunch with a tablepoon of sesame, poppy, pumpkin or sunflower seeds
– Dry toast a couple of teaspoons of cumin seeds in a frying pan and sprinkle over the top
– Spice the dressing up with a tablespoon of Sriracha
– Chop up 50g of strong mature cheddar or light goat’s cheese and mix through
– Depending on the time of year you can swap in other vegetables, including parsnip (surprisingly tasty when raw and cut into thin strips) and cucumber
Happy BBQ-ing – and here’s hoping for a nice warm UK summer!