I love the summer, don’t you? Especially when the sun’s shining and there isn’t a cloud in the sky (yes, this does happen occasionally in the UK!). That’s when you know it’s time to dust off the table and chairs and eat out in the garden.
Having a get-together in the garden this weekend? Take advantage of the sunshine and bring your dinner parties outdoors with my much-loved al fresco dining recipes. Plus, eating outdoors is good for you!
Homemade Sausages with Spiced Mint Yoghurt
When it comes to eating outdoors, you can never go wrong with a tasty sausage – particularly one you’ve made yourself. The spicy smokiness of the sausages go really well with the spiced mint yoghurt.
And, rather than serving the bangers up with mash, consider plating them up with McCain oven baked jacket potatoes. Because they’re pre-oven baked, they’re ready to eat in just five minutes. Simply add your favourite topping and you’re good to go.
• 500g lamb mince
• 2tsp ground cumin
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 1tsp fennel seeds
• 2½ tsp smoked paprika
• 1tsp ground coriander
• 2-3 tsp harissa paste (to taste)
• 1 heaped tsp dried thyme
• lemon wedges, to serve
For the spiced mint yoghurt
• 2 tsp whole cumin seeds
• 350ml whole milk Greek yoghurt
• 3 large garlic cloves
• zest of 1 medium lemon
• 2 tbsp lemon juice
• 1 tsp fine sea salt
• 15g mint leaves, chopped
• Mix everything up in a bowl and add a little sea salt. Mould into eight small, fat sausage shapes and pop in the fridge for an hour – or overnight if you can.
• Meanwhile, make the mint yoghurt. Place the cumin seeds in a small pan and toast over a medium flame, tossing frequently, until aromatic and slightly darkened in colour. Cool, then grind in a mortar and pestle.
• Pour the yoghurt in a medium-sized bowl. Crush the garlic cloves through a garlic press and straight into the yoghurt.
• Mix in the lemon zest and juice, salt, and mint until combined. Serve right away, or cover and chill. The dip will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.
• Fire up the barbecue or grill, coat the sausages with a touch of oil and cook until browned all over.
• Dish up with lemon wedges, spiced mint yoghurt and jacket potatoes.
Chicken Salad with Cannellini Beans and Courgettes
Tired of the everyday chicken salad? Swap it for this courgette recipe – I promise you’ll love this dish’s refreshing taste.
Packed with green vegetables – like courgette and green beans – together with cannellini beans, this salad is loaded with vitamins and minerals. It’s also really satisfying, courtesy of the protein-rich beans.
• 2 free-range chicken breasts, cut lengthways into thin strips
• 1 bunch fresh oregano, leaves removed and roughly chopped
• 5 garlic cloves
• 1 lemon, sliced, plus juice ½ lemon
• 4 tbsp olive oil
• 3 large courgettes, cut lengthways into very thin strips
• 200g green beans, trimmed, then blanched and cooled
• 1 x 400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
• Empty the chicken strips into a bowl with half the oregano, four of the garlic cloves, the sliced lemon and three tablespoons of the olive oil.
• Cover the mixture with a plate, pop in the fridge and leave to soak for a couple of hours, or, better still, overnight.
• To make the dressing, stir in the remaining oregano leaves with the crushed garlic clove, lemon juice and olive oil. Add some salt and pepper and put to one side.
• Warm up a griddle pan, oil and add a pinch of salt and pepper to the courgette slices. Griddle in batches until they’re soft and tender. Put to one side.
• Take the chicken out of the marinade, sprinkle on some salt and pepper and griddle in batches, until the chicken is cooked through.
• Pour into a serving bowl with the courgettes, green beans and cannellini beans, and drizzle with the dressing.
• Serve with crusty bread. You can keep the salad in the fridge for four hours without going soggy.
Sweet Chilli Chicken Kebabs with Pickled Slaw
These chunky sweet chilli skewers served with healthy slaw are wonderful for last-minute barbecues, or for when you fancy eating al fresco.
What’s more, they’re easily enjoyed outside with no mess in sight. Serve the kebabs in warmed pittas with crunchy salad leaves and mint and cucumber yoghurt, or on a bed of lemon-and-garlic couscous.
For the chicken
• 8 free-range chicken thighs, sliced
• 200ml sweet chilli sauce
• juice 1 lime
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
For the pickled slaw
• ¼ each red and white cabbage, shredded
• 3 carrots, grated
• 75ml rice vinegar
• 1.5 tbsp sugar
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 tbsp chopped coriander
• It’s best to make the pickled slaw first. Mix all the slaw ingredients together – except the coriander – in a shallow bowl, so the liquid can touch most of the veg. Set aside for roughly 30 minutes, stirring intermittently, then squeeze out the leftover liquid and combine the coriander.
• Tip in the chicken thighs as well as the sweet chilli, lime and garlic. Fire up the grill to high.
• Thread onto skewers then grill on an oiled sheet on each side, until charred and cooked through. Serve right away alongside the slaw.
My super-simple recipes are great for your al fresco dining menu. So, get the garden table and chairs out and soak up some rays while tucking into my favourite dishes for outdoor dining!