Burn­ing bright

Cook­ing over wood or coals im­parts the same en­tic­ing smok­i­ness to veg and cheese as it does to meat. Here a mari­nade of harissa and lime turns grilled hal­loumi up a notch, while home­made lo­vage oil con­jures a ver­dant sum­mer from charred cour­gettes and moz

The Guardian - Cook - - The Modern Cook - Anna Jones Anna Jones is a chef, writer and au­thor of A Mod­ern Way to Eat and A Mod­ern Way to Cook. (Fourth Es­tate); an­na­jones.co.uk; @we_are_­food

No longer the do­main of Satur­day af­ter­noon bar­be­cues, cook­ing over wood and coals – in­ten­tion­ally char­ring and burn­ing – has be­come quite a trend. Bearded men in waxed aprons fill ev­ery Nordic res­tau­rant worth its salt and the tech­nique has been cel­e­brated at restau­rants such as the won­der­ful Kitty Fisher’s and Black Axe Man­gal. Though the grill masters of Lon­don’s Turk­ish ocak­basi restau­rants will tell you it’s noth­ing new.

You’d be for­given for as­sum­ing that this cave­manesque cook­ing is all about meat, but in fact veg­eta­bles sit cen­tre stage at most of these kitchens. At home, we’ve over­looked how much a bit of char and smoke can com­pli­ment a beloved veg­etable or boost a neu­tral cheese, such as hal­loumi or feta. An aubergine is an ob­vi­ous pair­ing with a bit of smoke – babaganoush is a friendly blend of veg­eta­bles and smoke, as is a halved aubergine grilled and basted in white miso on ev­ery turn. Onions too, work well grilled slowly and tossed through plump pearl bar­ley grains. Even halved lit­tle gems are trans­formed when quickly charred and sim­ply dressed in oil, vine­gar and chopped herbs.

This char­ring is, of course, pos­si­ble on a grid­dle pan or even a good heavy-based fry­ing pan, but its nat­u­ral habi­tat is on the bar­be­cue. The res­o­lu­tion to cook out­side to me seems most wel­come on a week­night, when tak­ing the kitchen out­side brings a hol­i­day feel­ing to an oth­er­wise nor­mal Tues­day or Wed­nes­day. These have been the char-edged sup­pers we’ve cooked quickly this sum­mer.

Harissa and lime hal­loumi with flat­breads

Hal­loumi is a real crowd-pleaser when it comes to bar­be­cues. It does need some help on the flavour front; a quick mari­nade will boost your squeaky cheese out of its sim­ple milky pro­file. It pairs well with a hit of hot chilli and a lit­tle bit of sweet­ness.

Here, it has a quick dip in a harissa, lime and rose mari­nade, which is backed up by a grilled rel­ish that com­bines smoke from charred red onions, some pi­quancy from a good driz­zle of pome­gran­ate mo­lasses, sweet­ness from red pep­pers and a salty olive kick. It’s also great in flat­breads, burgers and toasted sand­wiches. The cool­ing yo­ghurt damp­ens down the chilli as well as pro­vid­ing a pleas­ing tem­per­a­ture con­trast be­tween the fridge-cold yo­ghurt and the grill-hot hal­loumi.

If you can find it, use rose harissa. If not, nor­mal harissa will do fine. If you like, you could stir a few crushed dried rose petals into your harissa to make it rosy. By all means, use jarred roasted red pep­pers to speed things up.

Serves 6

2 x 250g pack of hal­loumi, cut into

2cm slices Juice and zest of 1 lime

1 tbsp harissa

A hand­ful of dried crushed rose petals (op­tional)

For the rel­ish

2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced

2 red pep­pers

A hand­ful of pit­ted green olives

2 tbsp pome­gran­ate mo­lasses

Salt and black pep­per, to taste

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