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Roasted summer vegetables

Roasted vegetables are great as a light lunch or dinner. Try roasted asparagus with basil and sea salt pesto, baby artichokes with feta dip and round courgettes with cherry tomato sauce.

Surely, they would be even greater, if grilled and consumed in a garden, by the lake or in a park. Unfortunately, that is not always possible. For instance, one might not have a garden, a lake or a grill. Unexpected rain can also disrupt an al fresco dinner. Another reason could be a group of wasps.

It was during my sailing holidays in Croatia. I have spend the entire day gutting fish, squid and octopus that I'd bought on a market, geatting ready for a BBQ evening. When we'd finally managed to find a picturesque little bay and tie up the boat, we realised there were countless wasps coming to our yacht and we had to run away. We ended up staying in a marina where barbecueing was not permitted and I had to make the squid and octopus in the oven.

What lesson can be learned from this story? Probably the fact that anything that you might want to barbecue, you can also make in the oven. It doesn't always work the other way around, but in this case it does - I have prepare these recipes for the oven, but you can make the vegetables on the grill too.

Recipe: Roasted asparagus with basil and sea salt pesto

Serves: 4
  • a bunch asparagus
  • one tsp. olive oil

Recipe: Basil and sea salt pesto

  • one cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Blend basil with olive oil.
  • Add salt, combine.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Trim asparagus' ends. Coat asparagus with olive oil.
  • Roast at 180C for about 20 minutes.
  • Serve with pesto.

Recipe: Roasted artichokes with sizzling feta dip

Serves: 4
  • 4-6 baby artichokes
  • one tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • one tsp lemon zest

Recipe: Sizzling feta dip

  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Prepare a bowl with cold water with lemon juice. To prevent artichokes from discoloration, keep the cut ones in the bow before you're ready to roast them.
  • Cut the stalks off the artichoke. Pull off the tough leaves. Cut the artichoke in half. Spoon out the inner leaves and the fuzzy choke. Very young artichokes might not have the choke.
  • Combine oil and lemon juice, coast artichokes with the mixture. Place them in a baking dish and top with lemon zest.
  • Roast at 200C for aboit 25 mintes.
  • Combine feta with oil and lemon juice.
  • Place in a ramekin and bake with the artichokes for 20 minutes.

Recipe: Roasted round courgettes with roasted tomatoes sauce

Serves: 4
  • 4 round courgettes
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • tsp olive oil

Recipe: Roasted tomatoes sauce

  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • tsp brown sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • Cut the tomatoes in halves and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and sugar.
  • Roast at 150C for about 45 minutes.
  • Cool down and blend.
  • Cut the courgettes in halves and coat with oil. Place them in a baking dish and top with chili flakes.
  • Roast at 200C for about 35 minut.
  • Serve with tomato sauce.

Grilled salade nicoise

You probably have all heard about , right? And most of you have tried it at least once. So have I. But while I can easily evoke a mouthwatering image of a colourful salad, naming its ingredients comes up as quite a challenge. And this time it’s not me to cause the problem, it’s the salad. Finding the ultimate recipe seems impossible. Ok, so I didn’t verify this, but I’m willing to make a bet that ordering in each bistro on the French coast, you will end up eating a different meal every time.

The first version of the salad was limited to tomatoes, anchovies and a few drops of olive oil. We will find tomatoes in most of the contemporary variations of the salad - either cherry tomatoes, or thick slices of the larger ones. Anchovies either go together with tuna or substitute it. Personally, I cannot imagine a Niçoise salad without tuna, which is also the reason why I have avoided this particular salad for years. My aversion to canned tuna comes from the time when I was starting my culinary adventures at the age of 10. In one of the food magazines I found a recipe for tomatoes stuffed with tuna salad. Needless to say, this fancy presentation seemed like the essence of elegance and good taste (I was a huge fan of mini skewers at that time too), so I tortured my whole family with this dish on every occasion. I haven’t had the courage to ever try stuffed tomatoes again.

Luckily I have discovered that you can substitute canned tuna with slices of delicious, pink tuna steaks. Most recipes include haricot verts (or other beans), olives (black, Niçoise) and hard boiled eggs. Other add potatoes, artichokes, broad beans, slices of cucumber or radish, bell peppers, crunchy lettuce, capers, red onion or scallions. When it comes to dressing, different variations of vinaigrette are the most popular (with garlic, with red wine vinegar, with herbs), followed by olive oil mixed with fresh herbs, like parsley or basil.

The good new is that you can make whatever you want and still call it . I didn’t care for eggs, went with fresh tuna, grilled everything that was grillable and opted for traditional vinaigrette. You can do something similar. Or something completely different.

Recipe: Grilled salade niçoise

Serves: 2
  • 2 tuna fillets (about 150 g each)
  • a few baby potatoes
  • a handful of green beans
  • a few cherry tomatoes
  • a handful of olives
  • 1/2 of red onion, cut in half
  • Whisk all the ingredients together.
  • Parboil the potatoes so that they're mostly cooked, but not perfectly soft (about 15 minutes). Let them cool and slice in halves.
  • Blanch green beans (about 5 minutes).
  • Grill potato halves, beans, onion quarters and tomatoes. The time depends on your grill, ingredients and individual preferences. Potatoes should be tender and golden, beans should remain crunchy, onion should be browned and tomato skins should start wrinkling. Place grilled vegetables on a plate, together with olives.
  • Grill tuna fillets for about 30 seconds each side (or longer, if you prefer the tuna well done).
  • Slice the tuna and place on the salad. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with lemon juice. Top the salad with vinaigrette.
  • Serve with bread and white wine.

summer bbq

A barbecue doesn't have to be limited to burgers and beers. Not that I have anything against burgers, let alone beer.

This is a menu for a simple, yet creative BBQ dinner. All the recipes are easy and quick, which gives you plenty of time to chat with your guests. You can substitute flounder with other fish. Add some grilled summer squash, thick slices of raspberry tomato with freshly chopped chives, a crispy baguette and a bottle of crisp white wine. Unless you really cannot imagine a barbie without beer.

Recipe: Grilled flounder

Serves: 2
  • 2 flounders, washed and cleaned
  • juice of one lemon
  • one tsp. of sea salt
  • one tsp. of freshly ground pepper
  • Sprinkle flounders with lemon juice and rub with salt and pepper.
  • Refrigerate for at least half an hour.
  • Grill for about 7-8 each side.

Recipe: Purple turnip fries

Serves: 2
  • one purple turnip
  • one tbsp. of olive oil
  • a pinch of coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. of freshly ground pepper
  • Peel the turnip and cut it into wedges
  • Transfer them to a baking dish, sprinkle with oil, season with salt and pepper.
  • Bake at 180C for about 30 minutes.

Recipe: Turnip greens dip

Serves: 2
  • greens of one turnip
  • 1/2 cup of Greek yoghurt
  • one garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Chop the turnip greens.
  • Combine with yoghurt and garlic, season with salt and pepper.
  • Refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Recipe: Grilled asparagus

Serves: 2
  • 1/2 bunch of white asparagus
  • a few slices of Parma ham
  • one tbsp. of olive oil
  • Remove tough ends of asparagus. Peel them.
  • Grease the asparagus with olive oil. Wrap 1/2 slice of ham around each asparagus.
  • Grill for about 15 minutes, turning every now and then. The ham must be browned and the asparagus crispy.

grilled trout with lemon

Recipe: Grilled trout

  • 2 whole fresh trouts, gutted
  • one lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • 3 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. of sea salt
  • 1 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper
  • Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Season both the inside and outside of the fish with the mixture. Set aside for a few hours, preferably the whole night.
  • Grill for about 10 minutes each side.
  • Cut lemon in half, place on the grill cut-side down, grill for about 3 minutes.
  • Serve the trout with lemon.

grilled pineapple

Recipe: Grilled pineapple