An Effortless Summer Soirée: Mediterranean-Inspired Barbecue with Elegant Pairings

There’s nothing quite like a balmy summer evening, the air filled with the sizzle of a fired-up barbecue and the tinkling of laughter and glassware. As a connoisseur of the good life, I’ve always found pleasure in the art of alfresco dining. The fusion of sun-kissed weather and Mediterranean cuisine is a recipe for memorable moments spent in the company of good food, fine wine, and exceptional company.

This summer, I’ve turned my hand to creating an ultimate guide for a Mediterranean BBQ soirée – a guide inspired by my passion for making good food great and my philosophy that food, just like life, should be greater than just the sum of its parts. You see, these dishes aren’t mere food, they are experiences, hand-picked and tailored to transport you to the sun-soaked coasts of the Mediterranean, right from your backyard.

So, if you’re ready to dazzle your guests and turn a simple dinner party into an event to remember, join me on this culinary journey. From succulent artichokes and lamb kebabs to mouth-watering sides and refreshing cocktails, every dish is expertly crafted to be a star of the show. And because a Mediterranean BBQ is nothing without the perfect wine pairings, I’ve made sure to include my top picks to complement each course – all readily available from your local supermarket.

Now, with your apron tied and tongs at the ready, let’s fire up that grill and embark on a Mediterranean adventure that promises to turn every summer evening into a gourmet experience.

The Appetiser: Grilled Marinated Artichokes with Lemon Aioli

Artichokes may seem intimidating, but this simple, flavour-packed recipe will turn you into a convert.

Ingredients for Grilled Marinated Artichokes:

  • 6 whole artichokes
  • 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 lemon, cut into 4 slices
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for Lemon Aioli:

  • 180 ml mayonnaise
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Trim the tops and stems of the artichokes, then cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the fuzzy choke in the centre with a spoon. Place in cold water with 2 lemon slices (squeezed). This will stop them from going brown.
  2. Blanch the artichokes in boiling salted water, again with the other 2 lemon slices (squeezed), for about 15 minutes, or until the base can be easily pierced with a knife.
  3. While the artichokes are blanching, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
  4. Drain the artichokes and marinate them in the olive oil mixture for at least an hour.
  5. Heat your grill to medium-high heat. Grill the artichokes cut-side down for about 5-7 minutes, until they’re nicely charred.
  6. To make the aioli, combine the mayonnaise, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Serve alongside the grilled artichokes.

Wine Pairing:

To kick off our soirée, we suggest serving these delightful morsels with Mâcon-Villages, Louis Jadot. This white Burgundy with its fresh and floral notes pairs excellently with the tangy flavors of the artichokes.

The Main Course: Marinated Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Tzatziki

Lamb and tzatziki, a classic pairing, evoke the heart of Mediterranean cuisine.

Ingredients for Marinated Grilled Lamb Kebabs:

  • 900 g lamb leg, cut into chunks
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pita or Flatbreads

Ingredients for Tzatziki:

  • 500 g Greek yogurt
  • 1 medium cucumber, deseeded and finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Combine the olive oil, garlic, oregano, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Add the lamb chunks and marinate for at least an hour, or overnight if possible.
  2. Thread the lamb onto skewers and grill on medium-high heat for about 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally, until they’re nicely charred and cooked to your liking.
  3. To make the tzatziki, combine the Greek yogurt, cucumber, dill, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Serve alongside the grilled lamb kebabs and Pita/Flatbreads.

Wine Pairing:

Pair your flavourful lamb kebabs with Rocca Di Montemassi Calasole Vermentino. This Italian white wine offers a crisp and citrusy character that complements the rich, savoury notes of the lamb.

The Side: Grilled Aubergine and Pepper Salad with Fresh Mint

This side dish brings freshness and brightness to your Mediterranean BBQ.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Aubergines
  • 3 Peppers
  • 1 Red onion, thinly sliced
  • Bunch of fresh mint, chopped
  • 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Slice the aubergines and peppers into halves.
  2. Grill on medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes, turning occasionally, until they’re nicely charred, then slice.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the grilled vegetables, red onion, mint, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Wine Pairing:

This versatile salad pairs well with both the appetizer and main dish, creating a harmonious blend of flavours across your dinner table. The recommended Rocca Di Montemassi Calasole Vermentino serves as an excellent accompaniment to this salad as well.

The Dessert: Lemon and Olive Oil Cake with a Fresh Berry Compote

Round off your BBQ soirée with a light, citrusy dessert.

Ingredients for Lemon and Olive Oil Cake:

  • 150 g all-purpose flour
  • 150 g granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 120 ml olive oil
  • 120 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

Ingredients for Fresh Berry Compote:

  • 450 g mixed berries
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  3. Pour the batter into a greased cake pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool before serving.
  4. To make the compote, combine the berries, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until the berries have broken down and the mixture has thickened, about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Serve the cake with a spoonful of the berry compote on top.

Wine Pairing:

Paired with a Moscatel de Valencia, a sweet yet balanced dessert wine, this light cake is the perfect finish to your Mediterranean BBQ.

Hosting a Mediterranean BBQ is not just about putting together a dinner. It’s about curating an experience – one that delights the senses and fosters connections. With our straightforward recipes and carefully selected pairings, we believe that you’re well on your way to hosting a summer soirée that will be remembered for years to come. After all, aren’t the best memories those that are forged over great food and wine?

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