My memory bank when it comes to my childhood is heavily saturated with memories of summer, the annual two months off school hosting some of my favorite moments of every year. There were two things in my childhood that annually announced like signal fire that summer had indeed arrived, that being: pink skies (which I referred to as “barbie sky” up until about age 10) and Dad scrubbing down the grill in preparation for the first barbecue of the year. Living in the city, I’ve had a “first barbecue of the year” shaped void in my life, and although I could probably have chucked a few burgers on a disposable BBQ in Glasgow green, it just wouldn’t have been the same. So, as with every time I come home, I took this as the perfect opportunity to cook something for the family. When it comes to eating habits, I’m very much a “a little bit of everything, please” kind of girl. I like to nibble at lots of different foods, combining different flavors and textures- a big bowl of pasta could practically bore me to death half way through, for example. So barbecuing is one of my favourite things, and I like to be creative with it. It doesn’t take a genius to grill some meat, so I’m not going to patronize you with recipes for that, but one of the best ways to make a BBQ a little more exciting, and also to give it a nutritional boost, is with sides! When we decided that piri-piri prawns were going to be a feature of the barbecue, it all turned into a bit of a tropical feast. If you like the sound of grilled garlic courgette and chilli-lime pineapple, keep reading!
GRILLED LEMON & GARLIC COURGETTE
Courgette is one of my favourite vegetables. These courgette slices are so light and refreshing with a buttery coating that literally melts in your mouth. First combine 1/4 slab of butter, 4 crushed garlic cloves, the juice of 1 lemon and Italian seasoning. Mix until it forms into a small paste (feel free to heat for a few seconds in the microwave if the butter is being stubborn). Cut courgette into slices, as seen above, and rub with the garlic butter mix. Grill and serve with grilled lemon slices.
CRUSHED CHILLI & LIME PINEAPPLE WEDGES
Cooked-pineapple critics, look away now. There is nothing I love more with seafood or chicken than grilled pineapple. It takes on a delicious, almost savory quality and these pineapple wedges can easily replace potato ones for a delicious side that counts as one of your five a day, what’s not to love? For these, I bought a whole pineapple and cut it into slices, then quartered them. In a bowl, I mixed the juice of a lime with crushed chilli flakes and a little sprinkle of ginger. How simple is that? Brush the pineapple with the chilli-lime mix and grill. This is best enjoyed with piri-piri or cajun style seafood.
Those from Ballymena may be familiar with sweetcorn salad, a “Milano’s” ( a little Italian restaraunt in the town centre) classic that my family has collectively been a fanatic of since I was a child. I’ll give my sister credit for perfectly recreating it. Again, this is probably one of the easiest, tastiest and healthier sides you could make with a barbecue. Simply combine a tin of sweetcorn, salted peanuts, light mayo and plenty of paprika for a smoky, nutty salad that is perfect with chicken, and is seriously addictive.
PIRI-PIRI SEAFOOD SKEWERS
We found a 2 for £7 deal on frozen seafood in Tesco, so we bought a big bag of king prawns, and a bag of mixed seafood which included calamari rings, muscles and more prawns. I drizzled the seafood with both garlic infused and chilli infused oil and shallow fried. Seperately, I put the king prawns on skewers and coated them with Nando’s medium piri-piri rub. This seafood really brings all the above recipes to life, the fiery spices complementing the zesty sides perfectly.
Much like the grilled pineapple, I feel like a few people will grimace at the thought of this. If you are a fan of banana at all, I urge you to try this. My dad used to make this when I was a kid and it has been the crème de la crème of summer desserts for me ever since. With the skin still on, slice a banana down the middle so it forms a sort of middle pouch. You can use whatever chocolate you like, for me it always has to be Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Slot squares of the chocolate into the banana and wrap in tinfoil. These are also delicious spiked with a drizzle of Tia Maria (or any other similar coffee liquear), which I learned from my best friend’s family in a recent trip down to Ayr. Set on the barbecue for about five minutes with the lid down until all the chocolate has begun to melt. Serve with ice-cream. Admittedly, I forgot to photograph these, so here’s one from Google Images.
AND SOMETHING TO WASH IT DOWN WITH…
Because a standard can of cider just wouldn’t suffice (I’m eyerolling at myself too, trust me), we enjoyed Rekorderlig strawberry and lime with fresh mint (which my mum grows herself), strawberrys and slices of lime.