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Barbecued gnocchi? - Kebabs for vegetarians

"With a little imagination ... the meat-free barbecue can be an exciting proposal. The essential point is not to try to replicate meaty barbecue favourites such as burgers and sausages and instead attempt a different way of cooking altogether." Laura Barton/The Guardian

Each week I get a newsletter from Penguin, called The Happy Foodie. It's fundamentally advertisements for their latest cookbooks, but each edition has a selection of recipes. Since they have several big names on their list, as well as the up and comers, it's worth a look, and this week's featured this somewhat tantalising - and different - vegetarian kebab - Crispy gnocchi on a stick (with roasted peppers and basil pesto) from Rukmini Iyer's latest book, The Green Barbecue. I don't know whether it's available over here, but the author writes regularly in The Guardian.

I'm pretty sure you all have a vegetarian friend or family member for whom you have to cook every now and then. As I have said before I now have one vegetarian grandchild so vegetarian food has become of more interest to me - and her mother - of late. Simultaneously many of the most interesting cooks around these days are either actually vegan or vegetarian or flexitarian with a distinct leaning towards vegetarian. We all know about Ottolenghi and his cohort but even Jamie and Nigel Slater are becoming increasingly vegetable minded. So spurred on by the gnocchi skewers I thought I'd have a look at what else you can cook over flames or on a griddle on some kind of skewer.

Of course you can just griddle or barbecue vegetables, and I have to say that this Barbecued sweetcorn with flavoured butters from Levi Roots in the same newsletter is wonderful example. How gorgeous and a complete meal in itself. Boost with a green salad of some kind and some bread and you've probably covered all the food groups. Not a proper kebab though. However, do bear in mind for your next barbecue that most vegetables become even tastier when grilled or griddled and when a tasty dressing or garnish is added you have something amazing.

The same goes for all the kebabs you could devise, as Rukmini Iyer comments at the end of her recipe for those barbecued gnocchi.

"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." Rukmini Iyer

I wonder if somehow you could thread pasta onto a skewer and barbecue that? I think the risk is burning it just too far although maybe if you mixed it with cheese and tomato which cook pretty quickly you would be OK.

Last thought about vegetarian barbecuing. You somehow need to keep it separate from the meat - a separate barbecue or griddle plate. I'm also not going to mention vegan - just too hard.

So here comes another list of delicious and different recipes from here there and everywhere. Most of them are worth trying anyway - even if you are not a vegetarian, because I'm completely ignoring all the artificial meat products. I've also ignored the kind of skewered patties that you could make from things like mashed legumes. I'm sure there are plenty of recipes out there, but it's actually more difficult than you would think to find vegetarian kebab/skewer recipes, as they are often indexed under the vegetable's name rather than the type of food that it is.

In no particular order but in three groups - including some kind of cheese; including some kind of soy, and pure vegetable. So first come the cheesy ones - and do note that other cheeses that don't just melt all over the place are also suitable - like feta for example: Halloumi and watermelon skewers with tamarind dip - Nadiya Hussain; Tamarind squash and halloumi skewers - Georgina Fuggle/BBC Good Food; Harissa marinated paneer kebabs - Ottolenghi; Sticky mango paneer skewers - Jim Pizer/Meera Sodha; Zucchini and halloumi skewers with mint dressing - Lisa Featherby/Gourmet Traveller

The soy group has just two representatives here, mostly because I myself don't much like tofu and tempeh, but there are heaps of examples on the net: Sriracha and honey tofu skewers - Coles; Almond satay tempeh skewers - Donna Hay

And finally pure vegetable, though really you could make this up yourself - choose your vegetables - thinking about how quickly each one will cook - marinade them, cook and serve with a salad or a dip or on a bed of something: Tandoori eggplant skewers - Valli Little/delicious.; Spiced mushroom skewers - Coles; Crispy oyster mushroom skewers with crushed chickpeas - Ixta Belfrage.

I know the British seem to think that barbecues are a summer thing but here in Australia I think it's any season but summer - far too dangerous in summer - except for a gas-fired one I suppose, but they're not real barbecues are they? So think about a barbecue with friends and/or family next weekend the sun is shining.


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