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Bits on the side: The nibbles

While you’re busy cooking the meat, make sure there’s stuff to snack on so that your guests don’t get too drunk, too quickly. Stock up on posh crisps, such as Fairfields Farm Crisps’ new butter and mint flavour, and TorTyrrells, the English take on Mexican tortillas from from Tyrells – and add a few dips on the side. When it comes to the salad, don’t opt for a bag of pre-washed leaves, do something more stylish. Chop beef tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, red onions and basil leaves, then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

For another, mix baby spinach with a wholegrain mustard dressing, then add cherry tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, chunks of avocado and parmesan cheese. “Don’t take your salad leaves out of the fridge until just before everything else is ready to serve, otherwise they will wilt,” Cottam says. “Also avoid putting your salad dressing on your leafy salad in advance as this will also cause the leaves to wilt and go soggy.” If all else fails, just make sure you buy enough booze and grub. “No one remembers there being too much food in a bad way, however if you run out and people are hungry you will hear about it for ages!” Cottam adds.

Veggie options

Don’t break out in a cold sweat if you’ve got some non-meat-eaters tagging along to the party. Here are some tips of what to cook for the veggies, and it’ll be so good, the carnivores will want to
get involved as well.

Kebabs
Thread halloumi, cherry tomatoes, courgettes and onions on to skewers. You can make these the day before, taking them out of the fridge just before grilling. Then brush them with a thyme and lemon dressing mixed with olive oil and mustard. Cook for about five minutes.

The ‘meat’
Don’t just buy any old bean burger – if they’re the cheap ones, they’ll fall apart while cooking. Instead, look out for Fry’s products (frysvegetarian.co.uk), which has everything from braai flavoured sausages to spiced burgers. The veggies will be impressed.

Spicy corn
Wrap whole corn on the cobs in foil, before cooking, add garlic butter with a dash of fresh chili. Then grill until tender.

Keep it sweet
Chop a few sweet potatoes into chunky wedges and throw them on the barbie after brushing with olive oil and dusting with cajun spice. They’ll take around 15-20 minutes to cook, or about seven if you boil for five minutes first.

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