Al fresco cooking

By at home

alfrescooooMake the most of a warm summer’s day with a barbecue and dish up some delicious food. We’ve got four seriously tasty recipes for you to try at home and enjoy with your family and friends – plus, make sure you check out our very special book offer exclusively for all our lovely readers!



Cumin-flavoured lamb kebabs with hot hoummus
These minced lamb kebabs are typical fodder at the street grills or kebab houses, and are enjoyed throughout the Middle East and North Africa. To prepare them successfully, you will need large metal skewers with wide, flat blades to hold the meat.


Serves 4–6


  • 500g finely minced lean lamb
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 2tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp paprika
  • ½tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1tsp sea salt
  • A small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • A small bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • Leafy herb salad, to serve
  • Flatbreads, to serve
  • 2 metal skewers with wide, flat blades

Hot hoummus

  • 225g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked in plenty of water until tender, or a 410g can cooked chickpeas, drained
  • 50ml olive oil
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 2tbsp light tahini
  • 4tbsp thick, strained natural yoghurt
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 40g butter


  1. Mix the minced lamb with the other ingredients and knead well. Pound the meat to a smooth consistency
  2. in a large mortar and pestle, or whizz in a food processor. Leave to sit for an hour to let the flavours mingle.
  3. Meanwhile, make the hoummus. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6. In a food processor, whizz the chickpeas with the olive oil, lemon juice, cumin seeds, tahini and yoghurt. Season to taste, tip the mixture into an ovenproof dish, cover with foil and put in the preheated oven to warm through.
  4. Wet your hands to make the meat mixture easier to handle. Mould portions of the mixture around the skewers, squeezing and flattening it, so it looks like the sheath to a sword.
  5. Preheat the barbecue. Cook the kebabs for 4–5 minutes on each side. Quickly melt the butter in a saucepan or in the microwave and pour it over the hoummus. When the kebabs are cooked on both sides, slip the meat off the skewers, cut into bite-sized pieces and serve with the hot hoummus, with a leafy herb salad and some lightly grilled flatbreads on the side.

Tasty tabbouleh with chickpeas and spring salad
It’s fun to hand-pick salad leaves, making up your own mix. You will find big barrels or bags of lovely tender spring salad leaves at your local market. When buying leaves, keep in mind you will need about two large handfuls per person. Avoid limp-looking greens. If they do wilt a little on the way home on warmer days, give them a quick bath in a bowl of cold water with a pinch or two of sugar thrown in. This will freshen them up. The spring fresh ingredients are combined here with bulghur. Simply cover with boiling water to soften and add to your favourite salad ingredients.


Serves 4



  • 90g fine bulghur (cracked wheat)
  • 2tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 60ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 2tbsp finely chopped dill
  • 1 small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 400g canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 120-150g spring salad mix
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Toasted Turkish flat bread, to serve


  1. Put the bulghur in a heatproof bowl and pour over 125ml boiling water. Stir once, cover tightly with clingfilm and set aside for 8–10 minutes. Put the lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl and whisk. Pour over the bulghur and stir well with a fork, fluffing up the bulghur and separating the grains.
  2. Put the bulghur in a large bowl with the tomatoes, mint, dill, parsley, chickpeas and salad leaves. Use your hands to toss everything together. Season well with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving plate and serve with toasted Turkish flat bread.

Mushroom burgers with caramelised garlic aïoli
With their meaty texture and earthy flavour, mushrooms provide vegetarians with a great meat-free alternative to hamburgers. You can also serve these traditionally with mustard, salad, cheese and gherkins.


Serves 4


  • 8 large portobello mushrooms
  • 4-6tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large burger buns, halved
  • 4tbsp chilli relish
  • A handful of rocket
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Caramelised garlic aïoli

  • 1 large head garlic
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 200ml olive oil


  1. To make the aïoli, wrap the garlic head in foil and bake in a preheated oven at 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 for 45-50 minutes until the garlic is really soft. Let cool, then squeeze the garlic purée out of each clove into a bowl.
  2. Put the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, salt and the garlic purée in a food processor and blend briefly until frothy. With the blade running, gradually pour in the oil through the funnel until the sauce is thickened and all the oil incorporated. Transfer the aïoli to a bowl, cover the surface with clingfilm and chill until required.
  3. Peel the mushroom caps and trim the stalks. Brush with olive oil, season and barbecue or grill for 4-5 minutes on each side until softened and cooked through.
  4. Toast the buns and fill with the mushrooms, aïoli, chilli relish and some rocket.

Harissa chicken kebabs with oranges and preserved lemon
With a taste of North Africa, this recipe is quick and easy and best eaten with fingers. The oranges are there to suck on after an explosion of fire on the tongue. They can be cooked separately, or threaded alternately on metal skewers. The fiery kick in this dish comes  from the harissa, which is a fiery chilli paste that is used throughout North African cuisine. It is made from a blend of chillis, garlic, coriander, caraway and olive oil. Ingredients and types of chilli may vary between different countries and harissa brands.


Serves 4


  • 16-20 chicken wings
  • 4 oranges (blood oranges if available), cut into quarters
  • About 30g icing sugar
  • ½ a preserved lemon*, finely shredded or chopped
  • A small bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 4 long, thin metal skewers


  • 4tbsp harissa paste
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt


  1. Mix the harissa with the olive oil to form a looser paste and add a little salt. Brush the oily mixture over the chicken wings and make sure that they’re well coated. Then leave the coated chicken wings to one side in order to marinate for at least 2 hours.
  2. Thread the marinated chicken wings onto the skewers. Preheat the barbecue. Cook on both sides for about 5 minutes. Once the chicken wings begin to cook, dip the orange quarters lightly in the icing sugar and thread the segments onto the metal skewers and grill them for a few minutes. You need to keep checking that they are slightly charred but not burnt.
  3. Serve the chicken wings and orange skewers together as one dish and scatter the preserved lemon pieces and chopped coriander over the top so that all of the wings have a good covering.
  4. *Preserved lemons are used extensively in North African cooking and are whole lemons packed in jars with salt. The interesting thing is that you eat only the rind, which contains the essential flavour of the lemon. They are available from most supermarkets and online retailers.


Extract from Easy Barbecue, published by Ryland Peters & Small. Easy Barbeque will be available to at home readers for the special price of £6.99 including postage & packaging (RRP £8.99) by telephoning Macmillan Direct on 01256 302 699 and quoting the reference ‘GLR 4AX’.


This article was first published in at home with Lorraine Kelly in May 2011. [Read the digital edition here]

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