Theres something extremely irritating about the pitying look people give you on hot summer barbeque days when you say you dont eat meat. Its like they feel theres nothing even vaguely enjoyable about a barbeque if you cant pig out on a ton of meat.
Of course Ive learned, that I must cook triple what I plan to eat because everyone always wants to try just a little bit. And I cant blame them. This is so easy to do and its different to the standard incinerated vegetarian alternative. The key is in the preparation.
In my kitchen I have a large bottle of what I call my Barbeque oil. It takes an ordinary griddled/barbequed dish and turns it into something extraordinary. That said, theres often an intake of breath when I say I use oil. What about low fat!? The truth of the matter is that oil is essential for our diets. It keeps our skin healthier, our joints supple and enables the absorption of various vitamins and minerals, not least of all the crucial vitamin A.
To make the basting oil take 1 litre of mild olive oil and add three sticks of cinnamon, 3 bay leaves, a table spoon of pink or black peppercorns, 3 lightly crushed cloves of garlic and a good sized sprig of rosemary. Let these sit in the oil for at least a month, gently infusing.
For this particular barbeque I took a bringal (eggplant) and sliced it length ways into chunks about 2cm thick. Sprinkle these with some fine salt and let them sit for at least ten minutes to half an hour. While the salt is drawing out the bitterness from the bringal prepare your other vegetables. Courgettes halved, carrots, peeled and sliced into quarters, peppers broken into thirds, onions halved or cut into thirds (too big and the outsides burn before the inside cooks).
Pat the bringal slices dry and then brush all the vegetables with the basting oil being relatively generous. Sprinkle with salt if desired and put on a hot but not blistering barbeque, turning periodically until cooked.
(Tip: If you dislike the skins on the peppers or if theyve gone to black, the minute they come off the coals slip them into a plastic bag for about a minute. As they sweat the flesh separates from the skin and makes them far easier to peel.)
Serves: two as a main meal
Vegan, gluten free
1 Bringal (eggplant)
1 courgette (halved)
1 carrot (quartered)
1 onion (halved or cut into thirds, depending on the size)
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
Brush all with aromatic oil and cook over gentle coals (or use a hot skillet)