Summer is all about being outdoors, and one of life’s simplest pleasures is to be at home in your own garden, surrounded by your own best efforts on the grill, spending time with your closest friends and family.
The hot sun beating down. The smell of sizzling sausages and roasting peppers. Cold beers and bottles of bubbly, just out of the ice bucket. Music, friends, family, laughter… that’s right, it’s BBQ season.
With a barbecue you can turn your own garden into a top class eatery. The dream is to build one to your own spec, perhaps constructing it alongside built-in benches around the perimeter of your patio, which will provide additional seating when entertaining. Add scatter cushions and a fire pit for toasting marshmallows and it’ll instantly become a cosy outdoor entertaining space!
Garden gluts are great ingredients for side dishes too, so if you’ve got your own veggie patch then here are a few great ideas for how you can use your freshly picked produce to reinvent some classic BBQ recipes.
Must-haves are a classic potato salad and couscous with Mediterranean vegetables like sweet peppers, courgettes and aubergines.
For that all-important coleslaw, add fresh Granny Smith apples to your regular recipe and replace the mayo with zingy Greek yogurt and finish with a sprinkling of poppy seed.
Leafy salads, which are being grown as ‘cut and come again’ crops, can be improved with the addition of garden peas, broad beans, summer-ripe corn, basil and even berries.
Edible blooms like pansies and pot marigolds can also be used for colouring and adding flavour.
Make kebab skewers from woody rosemary stems and a basting brush by tying together sprigs of rosemary, thyme and other herbs and attach it to a wooden spoon to avoid burning your fingers.
And serve the grilled kebabs with zesty chimichurri, a thick fresh-herb sauce made from parsley, oregano, minced garlic, shallots and chilli peppers.
When grilling on the bbq, aim to give classic recipes a fresh twist too.
For example, instead of using rosemary try adding sprigs of lavender to the white-ash coals for the last 15 minutes when cooking lamb, pork or salmon steaks.
The aromatic oils of the lavender add a wonderful herbal smoke flavour to the finished meat or fish.
Don’t let an abundance of herbs go to waste.
Pluck leaves off several types and use them to flavour basic sugar syrup for making refreshing herbal sodas and cocktails.
Juicy soft fruit will also transform a cheap bottle of plonk into a crowd pleaser.
Borage blooms, which have a distinct cucumber taste, are best frozen in ice cubes to add a bit of sparkle to Pimms summer cups.
For the finishing touch, decorate your table with fresh flowers, cut straight from the garden. And to prevent rain from ruining things, always have a parasol to hand. You’ll also find one really useful for hanging a roll of paper kitchen towel in the spokes for those sticky fingers!
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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