Posted 31st May 2013 by Celia Lacy
There’s something rather special about the first little al fresco gathering at home spent entertaining guests and eating delicious food. The opportunity to cook and enjoy fresher, lighter meals with a more relaxed feel is a welcome change to the carb-filled comforts of a long winter!
Here’s 5 ideas for getting your al fresco entertaining revved up for an exciting summer ahead...
1 Pulled pork
A relaxed meal with a cooking time to match; it may take hours to prepare, but pulled pork is most definitely worth the wait. As the meat falls effortlessly off the bone and melts in your mouth, you’ll be glad you made time for this rewarding meal. It’s best to serve this lovely dish on suitably grand platter, accompanied with your favourite choice of sides. Try barbecued corn on the cobs, chunky coleslaw, a garlic dip or a lentil salad. We rather like this aromatic, fruity pulled pork idea, Cajun Pulled Pork with Mojo Sauce and Orange Salad.
2 Couscous salad
After a splash of boiling water, a few minutes in a bowl and a forking through, couscous becomes a versatile and satisfying staple fast food. Although these tiny granules of durum wheat (which is used to make pasta too) are often associated with Middle-Eastern cuisine, couscous can be paired with all manner of non-spicy ingredients. This simple Couscous Salad is the perfect al fresco side dish, packed with flavours to take you and your guests straight to an ocean view restaurant in the Mediterranean.
3 Fresh strawberries
The quintessential taste of the British summer, Strawberries are wonderfully aromatic, juicy fruits that make for lots of happy al fresco dessert ideas. Douse them in sugar and serve simply with fresh double cream (anyone for tennis?), add them into a pretty tart or gooey pavlova or, extract the juices and turn them into a delicious summer preserve. This Buttermilk Pudding with Cardamom Strawberries idea is easy to make and looks quite the star pud after a night chilling in the fridge.
4 Picnic Tart
One of the simple pleasures of summer is the exciting freedom to pack yourself a delicious picnic and disappear off to a peaceful al fresco spot to tuck in. Picnic foods should ideally be transportable, bite-size and easily shared. A smart summer tart can be baked the night before and cut into slices ready for wrapping in foil or placing in an airtight container. This colourful Roasted Cherry Tomato Tart made with goat’s cheese and basil is a picnic basket must-have and will have everyone diving in for a slice.
5 Spicy burgers
A pleasing handheld package of meat, salad and sauce, the humble burger is the ultimate in laid-back al fresco food. Not only are they easy to make yourself, but the results are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. You could even let your guests ‘build their own’ burger with pretty plates of fillings - including different types of cheese (Monteray Jack and Stilton are both great with meat), salads (try sliced beef tomatoes, crisp lettuce leaves, slivers of cornichons) and meaty extras (go for slices of chorizo or crispy bacon). This spicy Beef Burger with Onions and Jalapeños is deliciously fiery and can be on the table in 20 minutes.
What will you be cooking for your guests this summer? We’d love to hear your ideas. Leave us a comment below or tweet the team @TescoFood