A Vegan Main for the BBQ

I’m always in search of a vegan main to serve at a barbecue — something that is actually smoky and grilled, not a separate meal that has been prepared at the boring old stove earlier on in the day. So I was drawn to the cover recipe in Rukmini Iyer’s The Green Barbecue coming out in a few weeks. Here, the Guardian food writer threads skewers with blanched gnocchi and vegetables and serves them with a basil-y pesto. How clever is that? And I know this is the opposite of the point, but how good would this whole thing be in a skillet too?

Gnocchi Skewers with Peppers and Lemon-Basil Sauce
Serves 3-4
Reprinted from The Green Barbecue with Permission

1-pound package gnocchi
3 mixed bell peppers, chopped into gnocchi-sized pieces* (don’t use green peppers)
2 tablespoons vegan basil pesto
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
A pinch of sea salt flakes
A good amount of freshly ground black pepper
8-12 skewers, soaked if wooden

For the dressing:
1/2 lemon, juice only
4 tablespoons vegan basil pesto
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A pinch of sea salt

Place the gnocchi into a bowl of just boiled water and leave to blanch for 2 minutes, then drain and run under cold water to cool.

Put the gnocchi into a very large bowl with the chopped bell peppers, vegan basil pesto, olive oil, sea salt flakes, and freshly ground black pepper, and mix well to coat. At this point you could refrigerate the gnocchi until you’re ready to grill.

Thread the gnocchi and pepper alternately onto the skewers. Once your barbecue is good and hot, brush one side of the skewers with oil, then lay them over the barbecue at a slight angle (this stops them from falling through) and cook for 4-5 minutes, until the gnocchi are crisp and brown. Brush the tops with oil, then turn over and repeat with the other side.

Meanwhile, mix the lemon juice, pesto, and olive oil with a pinch of sea salt flakes to taste. Once the skewers are cooked through, serve immediately with the basil dressing

*Note: you could also thread skewers with cherry tomatoes and fennel. And you could use red pesto, harissa, or mustard mixed with olive oil as a marinade.

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You asked about food-related podcasts to listen to – have you tried The Storied Recipe with Becky Hadeed? Fascinating look at culture and life through a food lens…. https://thestoriedrecipe.com/category/podcast-episodes/ She has such a wide variety of guests from a huge diversity of backgrounds, and food is the thread that ties the stories together.


I made this last night and it was delicious! Just a note–the gnocchi broke off the skewers before grilling so I put all the boiled gnocchi in a grill basket and then took that to the grill which worked well. I love a good vegetarian grilled main!


The veggies turned out well but many of the gnocchi broke off and fell into the grill. Perhaps we shouldn’t have cooked them at all ahead of time? When I do sheet pan gnocchi we don’t parboil them at all and they taste fine.