Delicious meat-free barbecue meals
Proof that a feast of vegetables can satisfy even the most voracious carnivore
Roast squash platter with spiced herb dressing
Although our days of summer are somewhat numbered, there is still time for lighter food eaten alfresco. At this stage many meat eaters may have had their fill of summer barbecue feasts and instead might be looking towards lighter options. I certainly am and have found many of my everyday meals based more around vegetables and grains than ever before. Someone recently pointed out that this all sounds a lot like a movement that is gathering pace with a new wave of environmentally and health-conscious folk who want to reduce the amount of meat and animal products they eat, known as “reducetarians”. The term was coined by Brian Kateman, cofounder of the Reducetarian movement, whose website is filled with recipes, books, Ted talks and information on an annual summit held in New York. Eye-rolling aside, they aim to bridge the gap between vegetarians, vegans and everybody else, with a mission to protect the environment, improve human health and reduce the consumption of animal products.
In a world of spiralisers and superfood moon dusts, I understand the need to scoff at this point, but scoff as you may, I find the concept interesting and the argument compelling. There does seem to be a dramatic divide between vegans, vegetarians and the rest of the world, with an all-or-nothing approach to eating. Perhaps there is more room to experiment should we adopt the values of the reducetarians.
A nice starting point may be the two meat-free dishes I share today. One of the best ways I can think of treating courgettes is to slice them thinly and cook them on a griddle pan or over a barbecue – it makes them tender, sweet and smoky, making for a simple and fresh summer grain salad peppered with feta cheese and fresh peas. It deserves a spicy bite, which is delivered in the form of a fresh mint and chilli salsa.
Many of my regular meat-free suppers include roast squash, and with good reason. The sweetness provided from roasting squash makes it worth the wait as it cooks in the oven. It’s a luscious dinner served with a spiced herb dressing and creamy yogurt.
Both recipes are wonderful as a main meal and proof to even the most dedicated carnivore that a feast of vegetables can satisfy even the most voracious hunger.
GRIDDLED COURGETTE SALAD WITH CHILLI AND MINT SALSA
A light summer supper that makes the most of the season’s finest ingredients. The mint salsa is best made just before you are ready to serve, as the leaves have a tendency to turn black. Use frozen peas if you can’t find fresh, and you can swap the wholegrain farro with grains such as couscous or bulgar wheat, depending on what you have in the cupboard.
4 large courgettes
3tbs olive oil
Juice and zest of one lemon
200g fresh peas, blanched
200g farro, cooked
Sea salt and black pepper
For the chilli mint salsa:
1 red chilli, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, finely sliced
A small handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped, plus extra leaves to garnish
3tbs extra virgin olive oil
In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Using a vegetable peeler, thinly slice the courgettes into strips, add to the bowl and toss through.
Heat a large griddle pan over a high heat and griddle the courgette strips in batches until charred on both sides. Or you can cook them on a barbecue. Transfer to a plate.
Whisk the ingredients for the chilli mint salsa together in a bowl. Squeeze in any remaining juice from the lemons.
Combine the farro, feta, fresh peas and lemon zest and half the chilli mint salsa. Transfer to a platter and arrange the griddled courgette on top. Scatter with mint leaves and drizzle over the remaining chilli mint salsa.
ROAST SQUASH PLATTER WITH SPICED HERB DRESSING
This is a simple vegetarian meal that requires very little preparation but delivers big on the flavour front. Try and track down different summer squash varieties, or use courgettes, roughly chopped; but orange-fleshed squash should also be available in shops too. Serve with lentils.
2-3 squash, cut into rough 10cm pieces
1tsp red chilli flakes
3tbs olive oil
6 spring onions, finely sliced
Sea salt and ground black pepper
For the spiced herb dressing:
2tbs olive oil
Handful of coriander, plus extra to garnish
½ green chilli
Juice and zest from one lime
Sprinkle of sea salt|
For the spicy yoghurt:
6tbs natural yoghurt
1 tsp of hot sauce
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red chilli flakes, salt and pepper. Add the squash pieces and toss to combine.
Place on a large roasting tray and roast in the oven for 40 minutes until tender and slightly charred.
For the spiced herb dressing, blitz the oil, coriander, chilli and lime together in a food processor or combine in a pestle and mortar and set aside.
Stir together the yogurt and hot sauce and season with salt and pepper.
Arrange the squash on a platter, drizzle with the spiced yogurt and coriander salsa, and garnish with extra coriander leaves and sliced spring onions.