Summer sizzle

Teena Burgess | VOLUME 22, ISSUE 1

There’s nothing quite like the smell of a sizzling barbecue to signal the start of summer.

No longer a primitive pile of burning sticks surrounded by a couple of rocks and covered by an old rack, the barbecue has certainly come a long way in the past few decades. These days you can buy a barbecue that is constructed from stainless steel, has an infra-red burner and uses a turbo manifold system! What this means, of course, is that your barbecue pre-heats faster and cooks evenly, giving even greater versatility to this iconic cooking machine.

So why not try a different take on the good ol’ barbie, like a chicken roll skewered for easy handling, a tasty little lamb cutlet wrapped in prosciutto or perhaps a chilli and lime prawn skewer? We’ve put together a collection of recipes that are delicious and easy to make – so fire up the barbie and enjoy!

Chilli Lime Prawn Skewers

This is an extremely simple dish. Leave the prawns unshelled for a casual meal, but don’t forget the finger bowls. You can, of course, peel them for a more formal occasion. This dish can be served as a starter or a main – simply adjust the number of prawns accordingly.

bamboo skewers

4 red chillies, chopped (and deseeded if you prefer a mild, rather than hot dish)

4 garlic cloves finely chopped

juice and zest of 3 limes

1 teaspoon caster sugar

1 teaspoon freshly ground salt

1 tablespoon peanut oil

3-4 large or 5-6 medium uncooked prawns per person lime wedges

Soak the skewers in water for at least 30 minutes. Mix the chillies, garlic, lime juice and zest, sugar, salt and oil together. Put the prawns in a bowl and pour over the chilli and lime mixture. Refrigerate between 2-24 hours.

Thread the prawns on the skewer by piercing the tail, then adding a lime wedge and curling the head around the lime and onto the skewer. Place 1-3 prawns on each skewer, depending on size. Brush with the marinade and barbecue for 3-5 minutes per side or until cooked through. Serves 4.

To accompany this dish, we recommend a glass of Tasmanian Riesling or a Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio. We chose T’Gallant Juliet Pinot Grigio. RRP$18.49.

Vine leaf-wrapped Lamb Kebabs with Tatziki Dip

These little mouthfuls are great to nibble on while the main course is cooking. The lamb is flavoured with souvlaki seasoning, wrapped in vine leaves and skewered for easy handling. Preserved vine leaves can be found in continental delicatessens and larger supermarkets.

25 preserved vine leaves

500g lean lamb roughly cubed

2 tablespoons olive oil

zest of 1 lemon

2 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons fresh oregano

2 fresh bay leaves

short skewers*

tatziki dip

Rinse the vine leaves in warm water and drain. Rinse again in cold water to remove excess saltiness, then drain and set aside. Put all the remaining ingredients in a food processor and pulse to form a rough paste.

Place a vine leaf on a chopping board, add a tablespoon of the meat mixture on the side nearest to you and roll up, tucking the sides in as you go. Place seam-side down on a platter and continue using the remaining leaves and mixture. Thread three rolls on to each skewer, making sure you catch the end of the leaf.

Cook on a well-oiled grill for 5-6 minutes each side or until cooked through. Serve with tatziki dip. Makes about 25.

*If you are using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking

This dish is best served with a light- to medium-bodied red wine, such as a Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon or a Yarra Valley Pinot Noir. We chose Yerring Station Pinot Noir. RRP $23.99.

Salmon with Coriander Chimchirri

Chimchirri is an Argentinean pesto-like sauce and, in this instance, is made with coriander rather than parsley or basil.

4 salmon cutlets or fillets

1 tablespoon olive oil freshly ground salt and pepper


2 lime leaves

1 fresh or 2 dried bay leaves

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon juniper berries* (optional)

4 spring onions, chopped roughly

½ cup virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon freshly ground sea salt

1 bunch coriander, chopped

½ cup of white wine vinegar

For the chimchirri, combine the lime leaves, bay leaves, garlic, juniper berries (if using), spring onions, half the oil and salt in a food processor and grind to a smooth paste. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Brush the fish with some olive oil and season with pepper and salt. Place on a greased hot grill and cook for 3-4 minutes each side. Serve the fish on a bed of salad greens, with a generous spoonful or so of the chimchirri poured over the top. Serves 4.

Note: A hinged wire rack (available from barbecue stores) is handy for cooking fish as it eliminates the problem of the fish sticking and tearing when turning. Another hint to prevent sticking is to rub the freshly cut side of a piece of stem ginger on the grill just prior to cooking.

Pop open a bottle of bubbly and enjoy it with this dish. Try a sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay such as the 2003 Yarra Burn Rose. RRP$18.99.

Grilled Vegetable Salad

The slightly smoky flavour the vegetables take on as they grill makes this a tasty and unusual salad. Grill the vegetables before the meat, set aside to cool a little and absorb the dressing until you are ready to eat.

2 Lebanese (slim) eggplants

2 small zucchini, cut into halves or thirds lengthwise

2 red onions, cut into thick slices

2 red capsicum, cut into length wise pieces(same size as the zucchini)

8 medium mushrooms, stems trimmed level with cap

2 cups baby spinach leaves


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

½ teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped

Put the dressing ingredients into a screw topped jar and shake until well combined. Peel half the eggplant skin off in lengthwise strips and cut lengthwise into similar-sized pieces as the zucchini. Place all the vegetables, except the spinach leaves, in a large bowl and pour over the dressing, retaining a third for later. Allow to stand for 10 minutes.

Place the vegetable slices on a hot grill or wire rack for about 5-10 minutes or until tender. Return the cooked vegetables to the bowl and toss with the remaining dressing. Allow to cool until just warm before folding through the spinach leaves. Season with freshly ground salt and pepper. Serves 4-6.

Try something a little rustic with this dish, like a nice Italian red such as a Sangiovese or Nebbiolo. We chose a 2001 Peve di Spaltenna Chianti Classic. RRP: $24.99.

Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.

Remove chicken from the refrigerator and plastic film and cut into slices about 2.5 centimetres thick. Thread 2-3 rolls onto metal skewers, catching the ends of the slices to keep them secure. Grill for about 15-20 minutes, turning once, basting with olive oil every 5 minutes. The length of the cooking time will depend on the heat of your barbecue.

Place the may on naise and roasted red capsicum pieces into a food processor and pulse until combined. Serve the chicken with the capsicum mayonnaise and a simple green salad. Serves 4.

A nice cold beer, such as a Stella, Becks or Asahi complements this dish well. We chose Stella Artois, RRP$18.99(six-pack).

Chicken Rolls with Spinach and Bacon with Red Capsicum Mayonnaise

These are a very pretty way of presenting barbecued chicken and are relatively easy to do. The bacon bastes the chicken, resulting in a moist and tender dish.

1kg skinless chicken breasts, preferably large ones

250g streaky rindless bacon

2 cups baby spinach leaves

metal skewers

olive oil

1 cup good quality mayonnaise

1 red capsicum, roasted, peeled and cut into chunks

Place a chicken breast inside a plastic bag with the skinned side facing down (the shiny side of the chicken breast that has a thin film of membrane covering it). Flatten out to an even thickness (about 1-2 cm) with a rolling pin. Remove from the plastic bag and again place skinned side down on a chopping board. Cover with bacon (cut to fit if necessary) and spinach leaves. Roll up Swiss rollstyle and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour or preferably overnight.

Lamb Cutlets with Prosciutto and Sage

Get in quick for one of these tasty little morsels because they won’t be around for long!

2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves

2 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

12 lamb cutlets

½ cup shaved parmesan

12 slices shaved prosciutto

Put the sage leaves, garlic and olive oil into a food processor and pulse until they form a rough paste. Spread a little paste on each side of the cutlets, then press on a few shavings of parmesan and roll up in a slice of prosciutto. Barbecue for 15 minutes, turning once or until cooked to your liking. Serves 4.

Partner this with a young Cab Sav from Coonawara or perhaps a Sangiovese. We suggest the 2004 Katnook Founder’s Block Cabernet Sauvignon. RRP $21.99.

Cherry Tomato and Haloumi Brochettes

These simple and colourful brochettes are surprisingly tasty and can be served either as a vegetable dish or as a starter.

180g haloumi cheese

1 punnet cherry tomatoes

bay or basil leaves

short pre-soaked bamboo skewers

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh herbs(rose mary, thyme, oregano, basil etc), finely chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cut the haloumi cheese into 1.5cm cubes. Thread these and the tomatoes alternately onto the skewers, separating them with bay or basil leaves. Put the remaining ingredients into a screw top jar and shake until well combined.

Put the skewers into a long, flat bowl and pour over the dressing. Set aside for 30 minutes and then grill for 5-10 minutes. Brush with the excess dressing in the bowl every few minutes. Serves 4.

A nicely aged red such as a 1997 Lilydale Estate Cabernet Merlot goes well with these tasty little starters. RRP: $38.99.