Barbecued squid with a salad of fregola, grilled vegetables and basil, potatoes and fennel in a bag. Photograph: Jason Lowe for the Guardian
This humble cephalopod takes happily to the barbecue: its pearly white flesh charring perfectly to become an ideal vehicle for a piquant dressing. Serve with grilled veg salad and potatoes and fennel en papillote. Who needs hotdogs?
I spent the first week of August staying, with our three children, in a tiny cottage near Polegate in Sussex " the mobility scooter capital of the South East, incidentally. With no proper cooking equipment to play with, I rustled up every lunch and dinner on a barbecue, like some kind of suburban Bear Grylls.
First there were sausages. So many sausages that I became unreasonably fascinated by the way bubbles of steam form under the skin and skid upwards through the curls of mince, before coalescing in elongated pockets on top.
Then there was steak, of course (of which more next week); pink fir apple potatoes from the garden, sliced into lozenges and lightly coated with oil; leeks slit down the middle and dressed in mustard; the last of the broad beans cooked in their pods and then popped out like edamame between the lips; and an ox tongue, served with a robust salsa verde of garden parsley, sage and red wine vinegar.
But the biggest hit of all was the squid. They are strange beasts, these prehistoric cephalopods with their three green hearts, jet propulsion, and colour-shifting ways. They also happen to be delicious cooked simply over an open fire, and since there is currently an over-abundance of squid " perhaps due to the overfishing of their predators " you can eat them with a clear conscience. Even better than sausages.
Note: When cooking squid on a barbecue it is important to get the coals as hot as you can, and to cook the squid quickly. If you cook it for too long, it will be tough. A minute on either side should be fine and patches of a nice tan char should appear. You can leave the tentacles on for longer until they are crispy. Be careful though: I find it almost impossible not to lose half of them between the bars.
Serves 6 600g cleaned squid 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 100g rocket, to serve Lemon wedges, to serve
For the chilli parsley garlic sauce 3 red chillies, finely chopped 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil Juice of ½ lemon 2 tbsp parsley, chopped 2 garlic cloves, crushed Salt and black pepper
1 Ask your fishmonger to gut and clean the squid. When you get home, separate the tentacles from the body. Cut the body on one side and open it up. Score the inside doing a criss-cross pattern lightly with a knife but without cutting through the squid. Rinse well and allow to dry in a colander.
2 Mix together all of the sauce ingredients and season well.
3 Toss the squid in a little oil and season. Preheat your barbecue or griddle pan until very hot. Place the tentacles on the barbecue first followed by the squid bodies cut side down. The squid should curl up into a roll. Cook for a minute before turning the tentacles over. The squid should only take a couple of minutes to cook but this does depend on the temperature of the barbecue and size of the squid.
4 Remove from the grill on to a plate with the rocket, drizzle with the sauce and serve with the lemon wedges.
Salad of fregola, grilled vegetables and basil
You can use Israeli couscous in place of fregola if you prefer. 150g fregola 2 red peppers 4 courgettes 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 200g cherry tomatoes
For the basil dressing 1 garlic clove, crushed Leaves from 1 small bunch basil, shredded 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil Salt and black pepper
1 Cook the fregola in boiling water for about 8 minutes (or as per the instructions on the packet). Drain well and toss in a little olive oil with seasoning.
2 Place the red peppers on a grill (if you are confident with the amount of heat your barbecue will produce over time, you can do the courgettes and peppers on that before the squid). Leave on the grill for a few minutes on each side until the skin is charred.
3 Remove to a bowl and cover with clingfilm (or pop them into a clean plastic bag and tie up the handles). This will allow the peppers to sweat and will make the removal of the skin easier. When cool enough to handle, skin the peppers and remove the core and seeds. Slice into thick strips.
4 Cut the courgettes into strips about ½ cm thick. Toss in a little oil, season and grill for a few minutes each side. Add the peppers and courgette strips to the cooked fregola.
5 Cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters and add to the salad. Make the dressing by blitzing together the garlic, basil and oil. Stir through the salad.
Potatoes and fennel in a bag
750g salad potatoes 2 heads fennel 2 branches rosemary 1 head of garlic, cloves separated 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil Salt and black pepper
1 Preheat the oven to 170C/340F/gas mark 3½
2 Cut the potatoes into halves or quarters " try to make them roughly the same size. Cut the fennel into 8 wedges.
3 Mix the potatoes and fennel together in a large bowl. Add the rosemary, garlic and season well.
4 Spread out a large piece of baking parchment on a baking tray, roll out extra so that it will fold over an area that the potatoes will fit in. Gently scoop the potatoes and fennel on to the baking parchment. Fold over the parchment to make a large package and seal the edges by pleating or folding.
5 Place in the oven and cook for about 50 minutes. After that time the package should puff up and the potatoes be perfectly cooked inside with the fennel, herbs and garlic.