Brits love a smashing barbeque. In fact, we love it so much that according to nationalbbqweek.co.uk, the UK was Europe’s leading BBQ nation in 2017. Alfresco eating has long been a summer favourite and with an eclectic range of food options to cater for all manner of tastes on the market nowadays, preparing for your own backyard soirée has never been more simple.
Barbeques do not discriminate: whether you’re an avid meat-eater or veggie, there are plenty of tasty options that can be easily grilled. For a more traditional BBQ, choose classic meaty mains like sausages, burgers, chicken fillets or fish, like salmon and hefty tuna steaks.
A steadily rising number of people in the UK are swapping the meat for vegetarian and vegan lifestyles (Compare the Market tells us that 3.5 million Brits now identify as vegan), and supermarkets have responded. It’s now commonplace to find meat-free alternatives to burgers and sausages on store shelves, as well as inventive—and more importantly, easily grilled—bean, lentil and (actual) veggie patties to cater for your guests. For less traditional mains, opt for large Portobello mushrooms or halloumi slices to replace beef burgers and grill avocado halves to satiate the taste for smoky BBQ sans meat.
Bold, sweet and spicy marinades truly bring out the flavour of meats and veggie options alike.
If possible, let your food marinate in a Ziploc bag or mixing bowl covered with cling film the day before the BBQ to allow spices and flavours to permeate through for a delicious finish.
For a classic but easy-to-make honey-mustard marinade—which is great slathered on pork or chicken—combine three tablespoons mustard (we love wholegrain or Dijon), two tablespoons olive oil, one tablespoon honey, one tablespoon white wine vinegar and the juice of one lemon.
Strapped for time and looking for an all-purpose marinade to coat meat and vegetables? Mix 230 millilitres olive oil with 230 millilitres soy sauce. Stir in two tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, one minced garlic clove and the juice of half a lemon—add two tablespoons water if the consistency is too thick for your liking.
Salads & sides
Shake up the boring go-to lettuce salad with something adventurous that guests can sink their teeth into. Toss together warm wilted spinach, cooked chickpeas, quinoa, cherry tomatoes, cubes of cooked sweet potato and garnish with pomegranate seeds for a pop of sweet, juicy flavour. For an easy vinaigrette dressing, combine one tablespoon white wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar with three tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
Give guests a choice of two or three tasty side dishes so as not to overwhelm the palate. Choose from garlic sautéed potatoes, broad bean and pea salad, grilled corn on the cob, falafel bites, coleslaw, wild rice salad, hasselback new potatoes brushed in melted garlic butter, flatbreads (great for soaking up marinades) or simply slide chunks of pepper, onions and button mushrooms onto skewers for grilling.
Take a Seat
All of the effort that goes into preparing for a barbeque wouldn’t be worth anything without, you know, an ‘actual’ barbeque to cook with and a comfy seating arrangement for guests. Choose a barbeque grill to suit both the size of your garden and the number of guests you will realistically cook for at any one event.
For seating, a simple circular outdoor table and chairs arrangement not only proves to be a practical addition to the garden throughout the summer but also emphasises the social aspect of alfresco dining—facing inward to each other is a great way to get the conversation flowing. A few colourful bean bags and throws for when the cool evenings draw in are great for the kids, too.
Before the big day
- Buy all food (meats, veggie options and snacks)
- Marinate meats, mushrooms and vegetables and store in the fridge the night before
On the day
- Prepare side dishes such as salads and coleslaw
- Pull meats out of fridge up to three hours prior to guests arriving
- Set the table with dishes, cutlery and dips
- Put snacks like crisps, nuts and veggie batons into bowls
- Fire up the barbeque and get ready to host!
Make your own BBQ sauce
Whisk together 170ml ketchup, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce and 2 tsp brown sugar
Crunchy Rainbow Slaw
Excellent as a side, dip or burger filling, coleslaw is a staple in the BBQ scene. Throw this simple crunchy rainbow slaw together to wow your guests; add or remove ingredients depending on the number of guests and preference.
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
- 1/4 head white cabbage, coarsely shredded
- 1/4 head medium red cabbage, coarsely shredded
- 1 beetroot, shredded
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, to taste
- Cayenne pepper, to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Mayonnaise (as much as desired)
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except mayonnaise together. Season as desired then combine mayonnaise. Store in the fridge before serving.