I used to be rather terrified of BBQs. I think this is mostly because I am an enthusiastic but fretful hostess – always wondering whether there’s enough tasty food to please everyone, always preparing too many dishes and always being in a state of near exhaustion by the time guests sit down to eat. So for many years I avoided BBQs (we didn’t even own one) cooking stuff on the stove instead. Having a food blog and preparing/sharing recipes constantly has taken some of that worry away and this year we FINALLY have a working barbecue /firepit*. And since this summer has had more challenging weather than most, even by British standards, we have been taking advantage of every single sunny weekend.
It helps to have to have a range of sauces and marinades in your pantry to pull out on such occasions – especially if the BBQ is a spur-of-the-moment one! My favourite, and most versatile, is the Heinz Classic Barbecue sauce which works both for marinating and as a dipping sauce. It is rich and smokey but not so spicy as to put off my notoriously fussy children. It worked an absolute treat as a ribs / chicken marinade – easiest BBQ dish I ever had to prepare by far. Simply cover the ribs or chicken with a generous amount of the sauce, cover, and chill for up to an hour before grilling. For those who like a spicy kick there’s Heinz Peri Peri sauce which is pretty fiery – I must admit I am a bit of wimp when it comes to really spicy foods!
When it comes to BBQ side dishes I have simplified my repertoire to a couple of truly crowd-pleasing recipes which are easy to prepare before the barbecuing begins. The first is my mum’s Greek potato salad which always disappears without a trace no matter how big a bowl of it I prepare. But if I have no time to boil potatoes, I simply wrap a few large ones in foil and bake them right in the coals (remember to prick some holes in them first!). You can also bake aubergines (eggplants) in the same way but I think I will keep this recipe up my sleeve to publish on another post. If you are serving ribs, burgers or any kind of grilled meat, a coleslaw is practically mandatory. This Asian slaw recipe, tweaked from a Jo Pratt book*, is totally addictive but super easy. The secret weapon is the dressing which combines smooth peanut butter, Heinz [Seriously Good] mayonnaise, fish sauce, vinegar and honey. If you really want to push the boat out, add some crushed roasted peanuts over the top.
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Half a small white cabbage, core and outer leaves removed
2-3 large carrots, peeled
1 red onion, peeled and very finely sliced
For the dressing
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
1-2 tbsp runny honey
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
a little toasted sesame oil (optional)
handful crushed roasted peanuts to garnish (optional)
pinch chilli flakes to garnish (optional)
2. Grate the carrot on a box grater (or use your food processor).
3. Slice the onion into thin strips with a sharp knife, or use a mandoline.
4. Mix all the vegetables together in a large bowl.
5. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl until smooth and well combined. Pour over the vegetables and toss together to coat. Cover and chill until needed or serve straight away.
6. Add a handful of crushed peanuts and chilli flakes before serving, if you like.