Outdoor grilling is messy, hot and can be difficult to do well over charcoal and/or wood (electric or gas grills are easier because the heat is more even). But if you are going to the effort of lighting up the barbecue, make it worth your while and cook as much as possible.
Grilled lamb chops with watermelon and mint salsa (pictured)
8 lamb chops, each one about 125 grams and
about 1.5cm thick
50ml olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
The finely grated zest of one lemon
The leaves of one rosemary sprig
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the salsa:
450 grams watermelon flesh
A small handful of fresh mint
1-2 red bird's-eye chillies
80 grams red onion
About 30ml lime juice
Sprinkle salt lightly over the lamb chops. Mix the olive oil with the garlic, lemon zest and rosemary leaves. Rub the mixture over the lamb chops and leave at room temperature for an hour (or refrigerate for longer).
Cut the watermelon into 8mm cubes. Stack several mint leaves, then roll them tightly. Use a very sharp knife to cut the mint roll into fine chiffonade. After cutting all the mint leaves, mix them with the watermelon. Remove the seeds and stem from the chilli, then finely mince the flesh. Chop the onion and put the pieces into a small sieve. Rinse with cold water then drain. Mix the chilli and red onion with the watermelon and mint.
Start the fire for the grill - if you're making the babaganoush (the following recipe) now's the time to char the eggplants.
Sprinkle pepper over the lamb chops then cook them on the grill rack set about 5cm away from a medium-hot part of the fire. Cook them for a few minutes on each side for medium-rare or until done to your liking (if you cook them longer, you might have to move them to a cooler part of the fire, so the exterior doesn't burn). Put the chops on a platter to rest for about five minutes.
Just before serving, season the watermelon-mint salsa with salt and lime juice (if you add salt earlier, it will suck the moisture out of the fruit). Serve the lamb chops with the salsa.
Usually when I make babaganoush, I char the eggplant by putting it directly on the open flame of a gas burner, but if it's cooked over coals or wood, it has a more delicious, smokier flavour.
2 Chinese or Japanese eggplants, about 500 grams in total
2 medium-sized garlic cloves
About 30ml fresh lemon juice
About 30 grams tahini
¼ tsp ground cumin
45ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
A small handful of fresh parsley
Fine sea salt
Paprika, for sprinkling
Pita bread, for serving
Char the eggplants over the hottest part of the fire, as close as you can get to the coals. Turn them as needed so the skin blackens evenly. When the skin is completely charred, put the eggplants in a colander set over a bowl. When they're cool enough to handle, strip off and discard the skin and stem. Put the flesh on a double layer of paper towels and squeeze gently to remove the excess liquid.
Put the eggplant, garlic, lemon juice, tahini and cumin in a food processor and pulse to combine. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Add the parsley and pulse until chopped. Season to taste with salt. Add more lemon juice, tahini and cumin, if desired. Put the mixture in a bowl, sprinkle with paprika and drizzle with olive oil.
Brush the pita bread very lightly with olive oil, then quickly heat it on the grill.
Grilled portobello mushrooms with soy and garlic butter
10-12 portobello mushrooms (about 10cm in diameter)
150 grams unsalted butter
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
60ml soy sauce
20 grams granulated sugar
Chopped parsley, for sprinkling
Briefly rinse the mushrooms, then dry them with paper towels. Trim off and finely chop the stems. Melt the butter in a small pan then add the garlic and mushroom stems and heat for a few minutes. Stir in the soy sauce and sugar, then remove from the heat.
Brush the mixture over the bottom of the mushrooms, then put them cap-side up over the medium-hot part of the grill set about 5cm from the coals. Brush the caps with the butter mixture. Spoon the solids (the garlic and mushroom stems) from the butter and divide this between the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are tender, about 15 minutes. If they char too much, move them to a cooler part of the grill. As they cook, brush the mushrooms with any remaining butter mixture. Remove the mushrooms from the heat, sprinkle with parsley, then serve.
Grilled nectarines and raspberries
Cook this dessert after taking the lamb chops and other savoury ingredients from the grill.
30 grams unsalted butter
4 ripe but firm nectarines
About 50 grams light muscovado sugar
¼ tsp fine sea salt
15ml fresh lemon juice
1 punnet of fresh raspberries
Double cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving
Put the butter in a large skillet and set it over the fire. While it's melting, cut each nectarine into eight wedges. Put them into a bowl, add the sugar, salt and lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Spread the mixture into the pan, then add the raspberries. Scrape the coals so they are around the perimeter of the grill, leaving a cool-ish spot in the centre. Put the skillet over the centre of the grill, with the rack about 8cm over the heat. Cover the grill with the lid and cook the fruit until tender but not mushy, stirring frequently. Serve with double cream or vanilla ice cream.
For more recipes, go to scmp.com/topics/recipes