Dining al Fresco
Written by: Amberley Kennish
There’s something undeniably magical about dining al fresco – the gentle breeze, sun-kissed skin, and a carefree ambiance that can only be found in the great outdoors. Whether it’s a quaint picnic for two or a family gathering in the park, there’s no better way to celebrate the joys of the season than with a beautifully curated spread of delectable dishes. So, why not take your outdoor dining experience to the next level and elevate your picnic game with some creative recipes that will leave your taste buds singing?
When it comes to planning the perfect outdoor picnic, the key is to strike the right balance between delicious food and ease of preparation. After all, the goal is to enjoy the outdoors and not spend hours slaving away in the kitchen. Below are three of my favourite recipes that are sure to impress your guests, while still leaving you with plenty of time to relax and soak up the sun! But first, here are some steps to consider to curate your next al fresco dining experience as one to remember.
A Good Tipple
No outdoor picnic is complete without a few refreshing drinks. While classic lemonade and iced tea are always crowd pleasers, why not mix things up with some creative cocktails? A fruity Pimm’s Cup made with fresh berries and cucumber is the perfect complement to a warm day, while a refreshing cucumber gin and tonic will keep your taste buds tingling all evening long. For non-alcoholic options, consider crafting a batch of hibiscus iced tea or a refreshing strawberry basil lemonade for a taste of summer in every sip.
When it comes to al fresco dining, presentation is just as important as taste. After all, the ambiance and aesthetic of the setting can make or break the entire experience. Add a touch of elegance to your outdoor picnic by bringing along some chic tableware. From woven placemats and linen napkins to vintage glassware and sleek cutlery, the right accessories can elevate your dining experience to a whole new level. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different colors and textures, and always pack a cozy blanket or two for lounging in style. With a little bit of creativity and a lot of delicious food, your next outdoor picnic is sure to be an unforgettable affair.
Incorporating seasonal ingredients and flavours into your recipes will take your outdoor dining experience to the next level. Think fresh berries, juicy peaches, and crisp cucumbers for a taste of summer, or roasted pumpkin, hearty squash and warm spices for a cozy autumnal picnic. Not only will these ingredients add a burst of flavor and color to your dishes, but they’ll also help you connect with nature and appreciate the beauty of the season.
Consider A Theme
If you’re looking to add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your outdoor picnic, consider hosting a themed event. Whether it’s a chic Parisian-inspired picnic complete with baguettes and wine, or a whimsical garden party with floral arrangements and tea sandwiches, a well-executed theme can take your dining experience to the next level. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your decor and attire, and encourage your guests to join in on the fun.
Be in the Moment
Finally, don’t forget to savor the moment and enjoy the company of your loved ones. After all, the beauty of dining al fresco is the opportunity to slow down, disconnect from technology, and simply bask in the simple pleasures of life. So take a deep breath, soak in the scenery, and savor every delicious bite. With a little bit of creativity and a lot of love, your outdoor picnic is sure to be a memory that lasts a lifetime.
Now that we’ve covered all the essential elements for your al fresco experience, without further ado, here are three recipes to make it shine!
Seared Steak, Caramelised Onions, Feta and Rocket Baguette
- 1 baguette
- 500g sirloin steak
- 1 large brown onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 oz. crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tbsp garlic aioli
- 1 cup rocket (arugula) leaves
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
- Season the steak with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Grill the steak for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until it reaches your desired level of doneness.
- Allow the steak to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing it thinly.
- In a pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15-20 minutes or until they are caramelized.
- Cut the baguette into individual portions and slice open each piece. Spread the garlic aioli on one side.
- Layer the steak slices, caramelized onions, crumbled feta, and rocket leaves on top of one half of the baguette.
- Top with the other half of the baguette and serve.
Crispy Fried Chicken Sliders with Tangy Slaw
- 500g boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 6 slider buns
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups shredded cabbage and carrot coleslaw mix
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Cut the chicken breasts into small slider-sized pieces.
- In a shallow dish, mix together the flour, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- In another shallow dish, beat the egg.
- In a third shallow dish, place the panko breadcrumbs.
- Dip each piece of chicken into the flour mixture, then the egg, and then the breadcrumbs, making sure to coat well.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the breaded chicken pieces to the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crispy.
- Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet and bake in the oven for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until fully cooked.
- In a bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper.
- Toss the coleslaw mix in the dressing until fully coated.
- Assemble the sliders by placing a piece of chicken on the bottom bun, followed by a spoonful of the tangy slaw. Top with the other half of the bun and serve.
Refreshing Watermelon Gazpacho with Crumbled Feta and Herbs
- 4 cups watermelon, chopped
- 1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1/4 red onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ¼ block crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tbsp. chopped fresh herbs (such as coriander, basil, or mint)
- In a blender or food processor, puree the watermelon, cucumber, red bell pepper, and red onion until smooth.
- Add the lime juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper to the blender and pulse until well combined.
- Chill the gazpacho in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.
- To serve, ladle the gazpacho into bowls or glasses.
- Top each serving with crumbled feta cheese and chopped fresh herbs.
- Serve chilled and enjoy the refreshing and flavorful taste of this unique watermelon gazpacho.