Lockdown restrictions are (hopefully) finally starting to ease, just in time for lighter evenings and warmer weather! With people allowed to meet up to six other people in outdoor settings like parks and gardens from the 29th March, there’s never been a better time for alfresco dining.
We’ve put together a roundup of fantastic recipes made for eating outdoors – featuring everything from portable salads to BBQ delights!
Alfresco dining – BBQ Mexican Sweet Potatoes with British Asparagus
Serves: 2. Preparation time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: up to an hour, depending on the size of your sweet potatoes
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 1x 250g bundle asparagus
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 tsp hot, smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
- 1 small tin sweetcorn, drained
- 3 tbsp chopped coriander
Prick the sweet potatoes all over, rub each potato with a little oil and salt, then wrap in a double layer of foil. As soon as the barbecue coals are glowing red, put the potatoes directly on them. Cook for 15 mins, turn with tongs, then cook for 15 mins more. Remove one, unwrap and check it is cooked. Keep turning on the coals until the potatoes are soft and cooked through. Cooking time will depend upon the size of the sweet potatoes.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan on the BBQ. Add the red onion and sauté for five minutes or so. Add the spices and cook for a further minute. Cut the asparagus into 5 cm lengths. Add the red pepper and asparagus to the pan and cook for a further five minutes. Add the sweetcorn for the last two minutes to heat it through.
To assemble, split the sweet potatoes lengthways, fill with the mixture from the pan. Top with the roasted asparagus tips and drizzle with a little sriracha and tahini. Add coriander on top.
Alfresco dining – Celery Matchstick Caesar Salad
Serves 2. Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 40 minutes
- 2 large chicken breasts
- 1 lemon
- 1 French baguette, torn into bite-sized pieces
- 6 celery stalks, cut into matchsticks
- 50g parmesan, shaved
For the dressing:
- 8 tablespoons of Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 3 anchovy fillets
- (makes a jar of dressing which can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days)
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
Wrap the chicken breasts in tin foil along with the juice of half a lemon. Season well with salt and pepper and cook in the oven until cooked through and the juices are running clear. Once cooked, set aside to cool.
Place the torn French baguette on a baking tray, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and crisp.
To make the Caesar dressing, blend the egg yolk, garlic clove and anchovies until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the rest of the olive oil while you continue to whisk, until the dressing becomes creamy and smooth. Stir in the juice of the remaining half a lemon.
Cut the celery stalks into matchsticks and arrange on a plate with the croutons and parmesan shavings.
Slice the chicken breast and place on top of the celery. Finally, finish with a drizzle of the Caesar dressing.
Alfresco dining – Cheese, Celery and Walnut Scones with Parsley Butter
Tasty and very moreish these savoury scones should be served warm with the butter gently melting so you can swirl in a nutty-sweet stick of celery. It makes a perfect combination ideal for a light lunch or teatime treat.
Makes: 15. Preparation time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 10-12 minutes
- 225g self-raising flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 50g butter
- 125g mature cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 head celery, finely chop 2 of the stalks
- 50g walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 large free range egg
- 6 tbsp Milk (approx.)
- for the parsley butter
- 50g butter, softened
- 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
Pre heat oven 220c /200c fan/ gas 7 and grease a baking tray.
Place the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs and then stir in the finely chopped Fenland celery, 100g of the grated cheese and the chopped walnuts.
Break the egg into a measuring jug, lightly beat and make up to 150ml with the milk, add all but a small amount, reserve to brush the tops with. Mix gently until you have a soft dough.
Knead lightly on a floured surface and roll out to approx. 2 cm thick, cut into 6 cm rounds and place on the baking tray, re roll any trimmings.
Brush the tops with a little of the reserved egg mix and sprinkle with the remaining cheese, bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack.
Mix together the softened butter and parsley, serve the scones warm, split in half and topped with the butter with the remaining celery to crunch along with.
This quick and easy vegan salad combines loads of delicious flavours. Use a variety of tomatoes in different colours, shapes and sizes for a dazzling finish.
Serves: 2. Preparation time: 15 minutes
- For the dressing:
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the salad:
- 1 handful salad leaves
- 300g mixed variety tomatoes, quartered or sliced
- 1 avocado, peeled and destoned
- 1 shallot, peeled and finely sliced
- ¼ pack chives chopped
In a small pot mix the lime juice, olive oil and chilli, season with salt and pepper and mix well. Set aside whilst you make the salad.
On a large serving plate place, the salad leaves, tomatoes, avocado and shallots. Sprinkle over the chives and drizzle over the dressing.
Alfresco dining – Paysan Breton pancetta and vegetable frittata
An indulgent, cheesy frittata packed with bacon and vegetables. Enjoy warm, for a light lunch, or cold for a picnic or in a packed lunch.
Serves: 4. Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes
- 100g cubed pancetta
- Half a red pepper, chopped into small cubes
- 100g frozen peas
- Two large handfuls baby spinach
- 4 eggs, beaten (use more eggs if you want your frittata to be a little deeper)
- 1 carton Paysan Breton French Garlic and Herb cream cheese, at room temperature
- Salt & pepper
Preheat the grill to a medium heat.
In a medium sized frying pan on the hob, fry the pancetta until crispy. Add the red pepper and cook for a couple of minutes until it starts to soften. Add the peas and spinach and once the spinach has wilted, add the whisked eggs to the mixture and season with salt and pepper.
Next, pop the pan under the grill and cook the frittata for five minutes on a medium heat until it has started to come away from the sides of the pan. Halfway through cooking, carefully pull the pan out of the oven and spoon the cream cheese onto it in blobs. Finish under the grill for a few more minutes until it is golden
Alfresco dining – Spicy Beetroot & Goats Cheese Tart
Serves 4. Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes
- 1 packet ready rolled puff pastry
- 180g sweetfire/chilli marinaded beetroot
- 150g cream cheese (we like Paysan Breton)
- 100g firm goats cheese (or any cheese you fancy!)
- 3 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
- Salt and pepper
- A little beaten egg
- Preheat the oven to 200⁰c
- Unroll the pastry and place it on a baking sheet. Score a border around the edge of about 1cm and prick the base with a fork
- Cut the beetroot into halves or quarters, so that the pieces are roughly the same size
- Mix the cream cheese and the goats’ cheese and spread the mixture on the pastry base
- Top with the pieces of beetroot and sprinkle with thyme leaves and salt & pepper. Brush the edge of the tart with a little beaten egg.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes