Al fresco dining dishes for you to enjoy

Long summer days are often spent barbequing with friends and family, and there’s nothing quite as refreshing as a seasonal salad alongside it, followed by delicious fruity afters — try these four easy-to-make summer dishes that you can enjoy outdoors with friends, family, or in your own company. 

A healthy and balanced diet is important for all of us no matter what stage of life we’re in, however ensuring you have plenty of nutritious foods in your diet throughout later life will help you stay active and healthy for longer. It’s important to ensure you’re eating a variety of the right foods all year around but with highs of 30 degrees in the summer, cooking can become laborious. These BBC Good Food recipes have little to no cooking involved, perfect for those long, hot days when you're not feeling up to cooking a big meal. 

Ham & Piccalilli Salad Image

Ham & Piccalilli Salad

Make this ham, cheddar & piccalilli salad on days when it’s too hot to turn the oven on. It's quick to prep in 15 minutes and is low in calories and fat.

4 tbsp piccalilli
3 tbsp natural yogurt
12 silverskin pickled onions, halved
130g pea shoots
180g pulled ham hock or shredded cooked ham
½ cucumber, halved and thickly sliced
100g fresh peas
40g mature cheddar, shaved
crusty bread, to serve

Mix the piccalilli, yogurt, onions and 4 tbsp water together to make a dressing. Season and set aside.

Toss the pea shoots, ham, cucumber and peas together. Pile onto a serving plate, then drizzle over the dressing. Top with the cheese and serve with crusty bread.

Smashed Mini Jackets Image

Smashed Mini Jackets

Serve these smashed mini jacket potatoes with our creamy chicken stew for a crowd-pleasing dinner. Prep in 5 minutes, leave to cook for 1 hour, 15 minutes.

12 small (not baby) potatoes, scrubbed
4 garlic cloves, lightly bashed in their skins
4 tbsp olive oil

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put the potatoes in a large pan filled with cold salted water. Bring to the boil and cook for 15 mins until a cutlery knife can be inserted into the centre of a potato with only a little resistance, then drain and leave to steam-dry.

Arrange the potatoes in a large shallow roasting tin, leaving enough space between each one so they have room to spread once smashed. Using the back of a large spoon or a fish slice, push down on each of the potatoes to make them crack open, then season. Heat the garlic and oil in a small pan and pour it over the potatoes. Roast for 1 hr, turning once, until golden and crisp, and serve with dressed salad.

Eton Mess Cheesecake Image

Eton Mess Cheesecake

If you’re after a summer dessert to impress, try this decadent Eton mess cheesecake filled with creamy mascarpone, topped with meringues and strawberries. Prep for 20 minutes, chill for 4 hours, then enjoy!

100g butter, plus extra for the tin
200g digestive biscuits
375g mascarpone
420g full-fat cream cheese
150g icing sugar, plus 2 tbsp for the strawberries
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped, pod reserved
225ml double cream
600g strawberries, hulled, larger ones cut in half
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
10 shop-bought mini meringues
edible flowers to decorate (optional)

Butter a 20cm springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment. Put the biscuits in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to bash them into crumbs – or blitz in a food processor. Melt the butter, then stir it into the biscuit crumbs, mixing thoroughly. Tip into the tin, press down to create a firm layer and put in the fridge for 1 hr to set.

Using an electric whisk, beat the cheeses, sugar, vanilla seeds and a pinch of salt until thick and smooth. Pour in the double cream and whisk until only just combined. Spoon the filling onto the base, smooth the top and return to the fridge for at least 4 hrs or overnight.

Half an hour before serving, put the strawberries in a bowl with 2 tbsp icing sugar, the balsamic vinegar and scraped vanilla pod. Mix once, then leave the strawberries to soften slightly and release their juices. Push 1/4 of the strawberries through a sieve along with the juices to create a thick purée – or blitz in a food processor.

To serve, run a knife around the outside of the cheesecake, release it from the tin, then top with the strawberries dotted with the meringues, crushing some as you go. Drizzle over the purée and decorate with flowers, if using.

Cider & Blackberry Ice Lollies Image

Cider & Blackberry Ice Lollies

Tangy blackberries give these classic boozy ice lollies a fruity kick - a fun alternative to frozen cocktails. Recipe makes 8x 80ml lollies, prep in 15 minutes, cook in 15 minutes, and finally freeze for 6-8 hours.

1l dry cider
2 tsp lemon juice
100ml apple juice
150g pack blackberries
1 tbsp Crème de Cassis
4 tbsp caster sugar

Put the blackberries, in a small pan with 2 tbsp caster sugar and 50ml water. Simmer gently for 10 mins until the blackberries have softened and collapsed.

Pour through a sieve into a jug, pressing all the juices out of the berries with the back of a spoon. Stir in the cassis. Divide the blackberry syrup between the lolly moulds and put in the freezer.

Meanwhile, put the cider in a pan over a medium heat and bubble for 5-10 mins until the cider has reduced to 425ml. Add 2 tbsp caster sugar and stir to dissolve. Add the apple juice and lemon juice then stir and leave to cool.

Once cooled pour into the lolly moulds leaving 1/2 cm at the top for the lollies to expand as they freeze. Return to the freezer for 1 hr until the mixture is solid enough to hold a lolly stick upright. Push each stick 3/4 of the way into the mixture and freeze for another 6-8 hrs until completely solid.

To unmould the lollies, dip the mould in hot water for 10 seconds and pull firmly on the lolly sticks to remove.

Either serve immediately or wrap individually in baking parchment and store in the freezer in airtight freezer bags.

The lollies are best served as soon as possible but they will keep in the freezer for up to 1 week.