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Three quick and easy vegan recipes for your springtime barbecue

Whether you’re entertaining veggie guests or preparing a flexitarian feast, Roasting Tin queen Rukmini Iyer’s new meat-free barbecue cookbook has something for everyone, writes Hannah Twiggs

Tuesday 27 April 2021 16:08
<p>Crispy gnocchi on a stick – Iyer’s favourite barbecue creation</p>

Crispy gnocchi on a stick – Iyer’s favourite barbecue creation

Barbecues are traditionally associated with hunks of meat and skewered vegetables charred on the grill for hours on end. There’s cleaning the grill, marinating the meat, fiddling about with the temperature and getting the timings just right to worry about. Well, no more.

Enter, the master of hassle-free, one-pot cooking, Rukmini Iyer. You may know her from her bestselling – and beloved – The Roasting Tin series. And if you don’t, where have you been since 2017? Now she’s turning her attention to barbecues, and specifically how to do them faster and better to maximise on your time outdoors. There are even alternative indoor cooking instructions for “inclement” weather, so you can still enjoy the recipes year-round or when you live in a flat with no outdoor space.

Her new book The Green Barbecue moves her from the roasting tin to the grill, but retains everything we loved about the series: quick and easy to make recipes that are great for all the family and completely fuss-free. The collection of 75 flavour-packed, mouth-watering recipes are completely meat-free (over half are plant-based), but whether you’re entertaining veggie guests or preparing a flexitarian feast, there’s plenty here for all persuasions and occasions. Carnivores, don’t turn your noses up yet.

Here’s three recipes to start warming up your grill for.

Crispy gnocci – on a stick! – with charred peppers and basil pesto

Could I write a book without featuring crispy gnocchi? Of course not. So I give you my proudest barbecue creation. Forget about threading just plain old vegetables on a stick – here, you intersperse veg of your choice (I’ve done peppers here, but see the note below) on skewers with just-blanched gnocchi. The result is crisp perfection like you wouldn’t believe.

Makes: 3-4 servings

Prep time: 15 mins | Cook: under 10 mins


1 x 500g packet of gnocchi

3 mixed peppers, chopped into gnocchi-size pieces (don’t use green peppers)

2 tbsp vegan basil pesto

3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing

A pinch of sea salt flakes

A good amount of freshly ground black peppercorns

8-12 skewers, soaked if wooden

For the dressing:

½ lemon, juice only

4 tbsp vegan basil pesto

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

A pinch of sea salt flakes


1. Tip the gnocchi into a bowl of just-boiled water, and leave to blanch for 2 minutes, then drain and run under cold water to cool. Put the gnocchi into a large bowl with the chopped peppers, vegan pesto, olive oil, sea salt flakes and freshly ground black peppercorns, and mix well to coat. At this point you could refrigerate the gnocchi until you're ready to barbecue.

2. Thread the gnocchi and pepper alternately onto the skewers. Once your barbecue is good and hot, brush one side of the skewers with oil, then lay them over the barbecue at a slight angle (this stops them falling through) and cook for 4-5 minutes, until the gnocchi are crisp and brown. Brush the tops with oil, then turn over and repeat with the other side.

3. Meanwhile, mix the lemon juice, pesto and extra virgin olive oil with a pinch of sea salt flakes to taste. Once the skewers are cooked through, serve immediately, with the basil dressing alongside.

Note: There’s really no limit to the number of things you could pair with gnocchi on a stick – try cherry tomatoes and halloumi or tofu, or cubes of fresh fennel and halved figs. And you could use red pesto or harissa or mustard mixed through with olive oil as a marinade.

Read more:

Chipotle mushroom and black bean burgers with peanuts and lime

Make your life easier by cooking these in the oven first

These burgers are ridiculously moreish – I like to serve them in buns with mayonnaise and pickles. Make life easier for yourself by cooking them in the oven first, then finishing them off with a quick warm-through on the barbecue before serving.

Makes: 4 servings

Prep time: 20 mins | Cook times: 25 mins


50g smooth peanut butter

1 x 400g tin of black beans, drained, but not rinsed

2 small cloves of garlic, peeled

2 tsp chipotle chilli flakes

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp olive oil

1 heaped tbsp rye flour

1 lime, zest only

1 tsp sea salt flakes

250g chestnut mushrooms

To serve:

1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

A handful of chopped salted peanuts

A handful of chopped fresh coriander

4 burger buns


1. Put the peanut butter into a food processor with 60g of the black beans, the garlic, chilli flakes, cumin, olive oil, rye flour, lime zest and sea salt flakes, and blitz until you have a very thick paste. Tip it into a large bowl and stir in the rest of the black beans.

2. Tip the mushrooms into the processor – no need to wash it – and pulse until you have a dry mushroom mince. Stir this into the black bean mixture. With damp hands, form it into four thick burgers and arrange them on a lined baking tray.

3. Bake in the oven at 180C fan/200C/gas 6 for 25-30 minutes. When they’ve got 10 minutes left, gently flip them over so they can crisp up on the other side.

4. They’re ready to serve straight from the oven, but for a nice bit of smokiness you can let them cool down, then finish them on a medium barbecue for a couple of minutes per side.

5. Squeeze over the lime wedges and top with a handful of chopped peanuts and coriander, then sandwich them into lightly grilled burger buns.

Squash with charred carrots, red onions, coriander seeds, pistachios and lime

A substantial and moreish main dish

A substantial and moreish main dish. The natural sugars in squash and carrots caramelise beautifully on the barbecue and work perfectly against the aromatic lime and spices.

Makes: 4 servings

Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 50 mins


600g squash, cut into 2cm slices (no need to peel)

150g baby carrots, whole and unpeeled (or 3 medium carrots, peeled and halved)

1 red onion, quartered, core intact

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp sea salt flakes

50g pistachios, roughly chopped

For the dressing:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 lime, zest and juice

2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed

1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed

1 tsp sea salt flakes


The ultimate vegetarian and vegan cookbook

1. Tip the squash, carrots and red onion into a large bowl, and mix with the oil, spices and sea salt flakes.

2. In a separate bowl, mix the extra virgin olive oil, lime zest and juice, coriander seeds, crushed black pepper and sea salt flakes. Taste and adjust the salt as needed, and set aside.

3. Once your barbecue is ready, lay the squash slices on the grill, and cook for 25 minutes on each side, covered if you can. The carrots and the onions should only take about 15 minutes per side, so pop them on 10 minutes after the squash and take them off 10 minutes before the squash.

4. Once the vegetables are all cooked through, transfer them to a platter and gently mix with the lime and coriander-seed dressing. Scatter with the pistachios, and serve hot or warm.

‘The Green Barbecue: Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes to Cook Outdoors and In’ by Rukmini Iyer (Square Peg, £17.99; photography by David Loftus) is available now.

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