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The Perfect Vegan Barbecue - Strawberry Vanilla Lemonade, Potato Salad and More!

In my opinion, a barbecue should be a relaxed way of cooking and eating. And so it defeats the object entirely if you spend hours slaving in the kitchen before the coals are even lit, preparing and cooking sides.

In my opinion, a barbecue should be a relaxed way of cooking and eating. And so it defeats the object entirely if you spend hours slaving in the kitchen before the coals are even lit, preparing and cooking sides. I have two solutions to this; if I am entertaining with a barbecue or just want to make more of an effort, then I simply use shortcuts and select prepared products to enhance my sides so they are homemade but using cheats like prepared dressings in salads and store bought mayo for potato salad. If I am wanting a really relaxed barbecue - sometimes Rob and I will simply light the coals for just the two of us on a balmy weekend evening - then the only time I spend in the kitchen is in opening the fridge to collect ingredients; everything is cooked on the barbecue.

I give you a couple of shortcut, 'semi-homemade' classic side dish recipes below, but for the latter scenario, there really is not a recipe to share. I will simply grab a whole bunch of grill-able veggies from the fridge including small potatoes, mushrooms, peppers, courgettes, aubergine, tomatoes and so on and they all cook alongside veggie burgers and sausages.

It really is the simplest affair and a much healthier approach in fact yet bursting with smoky, intense flavour. Soft veggies like spinach and kale don't have any place but any sturdy veg like broccoli and cauliflower and even asparagus are fantastic cooked this way.

Drinks are also an important addition to the spread in my book. Especially if hosting guests, a nice selection of drinks is a must. I love refreshing, fruity numbers to sip in the sunshine. Some guests may love a cold beer or a wine spritzer, but for the non alcohol drinkers, alternatives such as Fizzics and Lemonaid & ChariTea are great grab and go options but my current favourite is to whizz up a sweet pink strawberry vanilla lemonade which is so unbelievably easy and so delicious!

Newton's appl fizzics is a golden amber apple juice blended with lightly sparkling water, producing a delightfully crisp and curiously refreshing taste.

It's completely natural, with no artificial preservatives, colours, or flavours and absolutely no added sugar or sweeteners. What's more, it contains no e numbers, hence no 'e' in the appl of appl fizzics! It's a great beer alternative, it even looks like beer and I love the single serve glass crown cap bottles.

Lemonaid & ChariTea have an incredible range of delicious, fairtrade and organic drinks in really interesting and exciting flavours. The ChariTea iced teas are seriously refreshing and taste so perfectly balanced unlike the mega sweet bottles of supposed ice tea that taste just like sugar water!

They are also a seriously socially inspiring company, supporting the non-profit organisation arm of their enterprise with the sale of their products, used for a whole host of charitable causes.

The Lemonade comes in vibrant, beautifully presented bottles in Lime, Passionfruit or, my favourite, Blood Orange. The ChariTea is sweetened with agave and fruit juice and comes in 4 delicious flavours (one contains honey), my favourite being the 'red' - Rooibos tea and passionfruit. Perfect summer refreshment and for such good cause, why not?!

The empty bottles make wonderful little vases or reusable vessels for all kinds of drinks, I love to fill them with water for on the go.

For the strawberry lemonade, it pays to use the best strawberries you can find and avoid making this out of season with those tasteless, hard, sorry excuses for strawberries in the middle of winter.

If you really must make it out of strawberry season, use frozen strawberries instead. I love to use local strawberries, grown just a few miles from my house, but I am very lucky. The riper the better here also, even really soft, almost mushy fruits. As long as they have don't have mould or smell bad, go for it, they will be sweeter.

Similarly, only real vanilla will do here. I cannot stand that artificial 'flavouring' or 'essence' trying to pass as creamy fragrant vanilla with it's sickly sweet, chemical stench. Use real 'extract', paste or the seeds from half of a vanilla pod.

Makes approx. 2 litres/8 cups


  • 1 punnet strawberries (about 400g), rinsed and hulled
  • 1/2 tsp best quality vanilla extract or paste or the seeds from half a vanilla pod
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • Lemonade - diet or regular, up to 2 litres/8 cups


  1. Add the strawberries, vanilla and lime juice to a blender and blend until smooth, adding a little of the lemonade if needed to help it along.
  2. When completely smooth, pour into a large pitcher or bottles and add lemonade to taste, stirring well. Alternatively, pour a little into individual glasses and top up with lemonade.

Pasta salad is such a summertime classic. It's cheap, easy to prepare in bulk and a great dish open to adaptation to various pastas, vegetables and dressings.

I love to use pretty tricolor pasta, but this of course is not essential. I prefer fusilli for it's grooves to catch all the herby flavour and dressing. Use this recipe as a base but mix up the ingredients to suit what you have laying about in your fridge.

Makes a lot, will serve at least 8 as part of a larger spread.


  • 500g/18 oz dried fusilli pasta (I love the tricolor kind for pasta salad. Use GF if necessary)
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • A handful of fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • A handful of cooked green beans, halved
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup light, vegan friendly French or Italian dressing
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt plus more for cooking pasta
  • A few grinds of black pepper


  1. Start by cooking the pasta, bring a very large pan of water to a boil with a generous amount of salt. Cook the pasta until no more than al dente, usually 9-10 minutes. Drain then rinse under a cold tap until completely cold.
  2. Once cooled, add the remaining ingredients and toss really well to ensure every piece of pasta is coated in herbs and dressing and the vegetables are evenly distributed.
  3. Chill until ready to serve.

Luscious, creamy, herb and onion potato salad. This is a lightened up version of my mothers potato salad which I absolutely adored and ate by the bucket load as a kid. It used a ton of mayo smothering unpeeled new potatoes and spring onions.

This is not health food by any means, but much less fattening than that which calls for 2 cups of mayo for the same amount of potatoes. The yoghurt really enhances the creaminess and adds a nice subtle fresh acidity.

I love the sweetness of shallots in potato salad, but you can really use any type of onion you like or have available, spring onions and red onions would work best, use less if using strong white onions.

The best bit? No peeling! Tinned potatoes are my current cupboard staple of choice. They are simply new potatoes cooked and canned in water, nothing else added and they really make life easier when there just isn't time or want to prepare fresh potatoes. Sometimes even peeling a potato can feel like too much work.

Makes a lot, will serve at least 8 as part of a larger spread.


  • 2 x 560g cans of new potatoes in (only!) water, drained, rinsed and halved or quartered if large
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayo (I adore vegenaise here)
  • 1/4 cup plain, unsweetened soya yoghurt
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt, or to taste
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped


  1. Add the potatoes to a large bowl. Whisk together the mayo, yoghurt and salt until well blended then stir gently into the potatoes.
  2. Add the chopped shallots and parsley and combine.
  3. Chill until ready to serve.

So there you have it, the perfect vegan barbecue. Now all we need is some sunshine!

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