5 easy barbecue sides to add to your recipe repertoire

    Published:27 August 2021. Written by: Nadine Brown. 

    It doesn’t matter how many shrimps you toss on the barbie, your plate won’t be complete without these accompaniments 

    Larger gatherings and the hope of a late sunny summer bring to mind one thing – impromptu barbecues and lazy garden parties. Thing is, getting used to cooking for more than your immediate family again might seem a little daunting. Let’s face it, after months of social distancing, your mum, dad, friends and their kids aren’t going to be happy with just a few token sausages and drumsticks to see them through. And some limp lettuce leaves to serve on the side aren’t going to cut it either. 

    What you need are well-thought-out side dishes, using seasonal ingredients and flavour combos that will please all your guests whatever their tastes. It just so happens, we have the 5 most perfect salads, slaws and everything in between. We’ve even got a recipe for the host who’d rather spend more time in the garden than the kitchen. 

    Heroes don’t just come in capes… they come bearing a winning salad recipe, too!


    For the plant-based warrior: Watermelon and ‘feta’ platter

    Plant-based cheese, packed with flavour and rigged up easily with a handful of store cupboard ingredients? There’s no ‘feta’ way for you and your vegan guests to enjoy tofu than with this fresh, juicy, Mediterranean-inspired salad. Plus, this will make more ‘feta’ than you’ll need for the salad. Keep it in an airtight container in your fridge for up to a week and use in other salads, to liven up some avocado toast or as a snack.


    Prepare: 25 minutes, plus 30 minutes pressing and time to marinate overnight  

    For the tofu ‘feta’:

    • 1 x 390g extra-firm tofu 
    • 425ml olive oil 
    • 75ml cider vinegar 
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 tsp flaky sea salt
    • 2 tsp dried mixed herbs
    • 1 tsp caster sugar 
    • ½ tsp chilli flakes 

    For the salad:

    • 450g watermelon, cut into bite-size chunks
    • 1 cucumber (approx 400g), trimmed and cut roughly into bite-size chunks 
    • 7g fresh mint leaves 
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice 
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    1. Start off by pressing the tofu. Wrap in a few sheets of kitchen paper and place on a plate. Top with another plate followed by a few heavy cans of tinned food. Leave to sit for approximately 30 minutes. By doing this, you’ll remove excess moisture, allowing the tofu to soak up more flavour later on. 
    2. Combine all the remaining ingredients for the tofu ‘feta’ in a very large jar or bowl, giving it a good stir so the salt and sugar dissolve. Completely drain the tofu of water on the plate, remove the kitchen paper and crumble the ‘feta’ into bite-size chunks, making sure they’re not too small. Add the chunks to the jar or bowl, making sure they’re all completely covered by the oil/vinegar mix. Seal/cover, then leave to marinate at room temperature overnight. 
    3. To make the salad, arrange the watermelon, cucumber and most of the mint leaves on a serving platter. Combine the lemon juice and tbsp of olive oil, drizzle over the salad and season lightly. Crumble over half the marinated ‘feta’ and scatter over the remaining mint leaves to garnish. Season with more black pepper and serve.


     For the classic BBQ lover: Crispy smashed potato salad

    Leave boiled potatoes in the past and opt for this crispy, roast spud salad – guaranteed to keep old-school eaters happy, but with a deliciously modern twist.


    Prepare: 25 minutes 

    Cook: 55 minutes

    • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
    • 80ml cider vinegar 
    • Pinch of sugar
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1kg baby potatoes 
    • 2 tbsp olive oil 
    • 80g soured cream 
    • 2 tsp lemon juice
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
    • 1 tsp honey
    • 1 tbsp capers, well drained 
    • 1 tbsp chopped chives
    1. Combine the red onion, cider vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
    2. Add the potatoes to a large pot of salted water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until just tender – you want to be able to pierce them with a fork but not have them fall apart. Drain the potatoes and let them cool in a colander until completely dry. 
    3. Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas mark 7. Add the potatoes to a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil, tossing until all the potatoes are coated. Using the clean flat bottom of a glass or tumbler, press each potato down lightly until crushed. Season well, then transfer to the oven to roast for 20 minutes or until the tops are golden. Carefully flip each potato over and transfer back to the oven to roast for a further 20 minutes, or until deeply golden and crispy. Remove from the oven and leave to cool until room temperature.  
    4. Meanwhile, combine the soured cream, lemon juice, garlic and honey in a small bowl. Season to taste. 
    5. Arrange the potatoes on a serving platter. Drizzle with the soured cream and scatter over the pickled red onions, capers and chives. Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve. 


    For the kids’ table: Pizza pasta

    Take the taste of pizza that children (and adults) love, mix it with an easy pasta salad and just like that, you have a speedy side your kids will tuck into without question. Well, maybe one question… ‘Please can I have some more?’


    Prepare: 20 minutes

    Cook: 10 minutes

    • 30ml red wine vinegar 
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
    • ½ tsp Dijon mustard 
    • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
    • 75ml extra virgin olive oil
    • 300g wholemeal fusilli pasta
    • 200g cherry tomatoes, halved 
    • 150g mozzarella, torn into bite-size strips 
    • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced 
    • 100g pitted black olives, roughly chopped 
    • 100g pepperoni slices, roughly chopped
    • Small handful fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced 
    1. Start with the dressing. Combine the vinegar, garlic, mustard and oregano in a large bowl. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly until all the oil is incorporated and the dressing has emulsified. Season and set aside. 
    2. Cook the pasta for a minute longer than the package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water until it’s cool – at this point the pasta will firm up considerably so it’s important not to undercook at the start. Drain thoroughly, then transfer to a large bowl. 
    3. Add the tomatoes, mozzarella, red onion, olives, pepperoni and basil to the bowl with the pasta. Toss together. Drizzle the dressing over the pasta and toss again. Season to taste and serve. 


    For the retro fan: Bombay carrot slaw 

    This retro recipe is given a spicy twist by adding warming curry powder, ground cumin and turmeric. Bright and bold with the addition of juicy citrus-infused raisins, it’s the slaw that’ll please everyone from granddad to the grandkids. 


    Prepare: 25 minutes, plus 30 minutes standing time 

    Cook: Under 5 minutes

    • 50g raisins
    • Juice and zest of 1 orange
    • Juice of 1 lemon 
    • 2 tsp honey
    • 2 garlic cloves, grated 
    • 10g fresh ginger, grated 
    • 1 tsp curry powder 
    • ¼ tsp ground cumin
    • ¼ tsp ground turmeric 
    • 50ml light olive oil or other neutral oil
    • 7 carrots, peeled and grated (approx 425g) 
    • 1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 
    • 2 tbsp chopped chives 
    • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander 
    1. Add the raisins to a small saucepan with the orange juice. Bring to a gentle boil, then immediately remove from the heat, cover and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Drain the raisins and set aside until completely cool. 
    2. Make the dressing by whisking the orange zest, lemon juice, honey, garlic, ginger, curry powder, cumin and turmeric together in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking as you go until emulsified. Season and set aside. 
    3. Add the cooled raisins, grated carrots and chickpeas to a large bowl. Pour over the dressing, tossing together. Cover and leave to sit for 20 minutes at room temperature. Add the chives and coriander, giving the salad a final stir to combine. Serve. 


    For the kitchen dodger: Summer couscous

    Couscous is the non-cook’s best friend – ready to eat in 10 minutes with no need for an oven, just some hot water. Make it special by tossing with flavour-packed seasonal salad ingredients and a citrusy dressing to pull it all together. 


    Prepare: 20 minutes, plus 10 minutes standing time

    • Juice and zest of 1 lemon 
    • 1 garlic clove, minced 
    • 1 tsp Dijon mustard 
    • 1 tsp honey 
    • 75ml extra virgin olive oil 
    • 250g wholewheat couscous 
    • 200g cherry tomatoes, halved 
    • 1 red onion, finely diced 
    • 350g cucumber, core removed, finely diced 
    • 1 yellow pepper, finely diced 
    • 3 tbsp roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
    1. Combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, mustard and honey in a large bowl. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly until all the oil is incorporated and the dressing has emulsified. Season and set aside. 
    2. Tip the couscous into a large bowl and cover with 400ml freshly boiled water. Cover bowl, then leave for 10 minutes until the couscous has swollen up and all the water has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork and leave, slightly uncovered, to cool.
    3. Once the couscous is cool, add the tomatoes, onion, cucumber, pepper and parsley, mixing everything together. Drizzle with the dressing and toss together. Season to taste and serve. 


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