The Alternative BBQ…

DBCauliflowerWrap300With the recent hot, barmy weather and the up and coming British Burger Day, maybe it’s time to reflect on how great it is to eat al fresco. The waft of charcoal, onions, and sizzling food, the sound of laughter, music and popping bottle tops in the air from neighbours and gardens in faraway streets. And then...cutting through the chilled-out ambience of the social gathering and family mutterings, there’s the “how do you cook this veggie stuff then?”.

The BBQ is a lot of fun but when you a have a visiting vegan or vegetarian or if you are one yourself, you may feel a little awkward and on the outside at BBQs and al fresco occasions. You may force a smile for the cold pasta salad that has been provided, with a tomato sauce that has been expertly poured from a glass bottle or you may feel a little hard done by with the supply of veggie dips and raw vegetables that languish in the sun, but there are more choices available!

So, here are some facts about our favourite summer, leisure activity to get you well polished on the event. So many of us have such a lot of fun preparing and attending them, maybe it’s worth taking a moment to consider the bigger picture.

• 3 out of 4 households now own a BBQ of some sort.
• We are Europe’s leading BBQ nation, with the German’s coming 2nd to us.
• In 1997, the BBQ market was worth £150million, which is quite a lot. However, in 2017, this was set at being worth just over £7.6billion!
• Gas and charcoal are both as popular as each other when we choose our preferred cooking fuel.
• The “hooded” BBQ is the most popular model of BBQ, followed closely by the “flatbed”.
• Over the past few years, there has been a slight increase of 4% of women “manning” the BBQ.
• On average 33% of us will attend at least 8-9 BBQs this year.
• 5% of us enjoy BBQs all year round.
• The average amount spent on a BBQ meal is £41, which was £19 only 5 years ago.
• There are a bigger assortment of ingredients and more exotic dishes being prepared on the BBQ nowadays, with duck, fish, halloumi and brochettes being consumed by more of us.

So, as a vegetarian or vegan, how can you approach the great British BBQ, when the main choice of food still appears to be sausages, burgers and chicken drummers at most al fresco gatherings?

Here are some fab BBQ tips to help you through the season, whether you eat alternatives yourself or you have visitors that do:
• Make a decision whether you are going to have space to cook vegetarian/vegan foods separately and safely on your BBQ right at the beginning. Use a frying pan or separate grill away from sizzling meat fats or use the oven inside and cook.
• Forget pasta salads, and provide some colourful and tasty kebabs with mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines and onions.
• Pre-pare some red peppers or large mushrooms. Mix some vegan soft cheese with a huge handful of mixed herbs to create a tasty mix and stuff in to half a pepper or the top of a de-stalked mushroom. Bake/BBQ when required.
• Yes, get a pack of halloumi but don’t just cook it – quickly rub some olive oil over it, sprinkle over garlic powder, polenta and some fresh mint, the taste and crunch are lovely!
• Pitta pockets are great for Vegetarians and Vegans. Stuff some pittas with sliced jarred peppers, sundried tomatoes and artichokes, spinach, rocket, sunflower seeds or any fresh vegetables you have. Make ahead and BBQ or bake as required.
• Provide salads that everyone can eat, but make sure there is a protein on them, so these can be used as main event for vegetarians and vegans. Add seeds or nuts, beans or lentils, ready cooked from tins.
• Ok, yes, do make it easy – there are a huge choice of vegetarian burgers and sausages out there now, pre-made and really tasty. Have a look and try them out if you know your prep time is really limited.

With a summer of outside eating and long, hot evenings on the cards, be adventurous. Use fresh fruit to make cocktails, fresh vegetables, spices and herbs, homemade breads, grilled fruits and iced desserts, all fresh and seasonal. Don’t succumb to the usual meats and burgers when there is such a wide choice of ingredients available to us all, they should be celebrated along with the summer and an alternative al fresco living.DBFetaOrzo300

*Try our cauliflower wraps recipe that you can make ahead if you have a gluten free guest – see the recipes
* An alternative vegetarian orzo salad can be found in the recipes to add to your al fresco dining table for everyone.

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