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The ultimate guide to summer feasting

Our favourite recipes for summer feasting

by Great British Chefs 29 July 2019

We only get a brief window during the British summer to celebrate the sunshine with friends and family, and enjoy some al fresco dining. We've pulled together a heap of starters, mains, salads and desserts so you can build your own summer feast.

The long, balmy summer days are when we finally have an opportunity to kick back, relax and spend quality time with friends and family. Whether it be a smoky barbecue, a relaxing picnic, a hearty Sunday lunch, or splendid dinner party, nothing brings people together like great food in the summer.

When you’re dealing with large numbers, it can be tough to decide what to make. Nobody wants to slave away at the stove and spend all day in the kitchen when the sun is shining outside, and then you have dietaries and intolerances to consider. We know it can be a minefield, and that’s why we’ve assembled an all-star cast of recipes to cater to your every need when hosting a summer celebration.

All the recipes below have been selected to offer you and your guests maximum taste, with minimal fuss. The dishes are designed for sharing, and can be scaled up or down with ease. Our starters feature cheerful cheese courses, fabulous fritters and soups. The mains offer you a diverse range of flavour-packed meat and fish to feed your hungry guests and leave them totally satisfied. A collection of fresh, vibrant salads will bring some much-needed crunch and refreshing textures to any meal, and we’ve rounded things off with some classic dessert choices that never fail to impress. So fill up your glass and raise a toast to the glories of summer, a time for feasting, fun, and outstanding dishes!

Starters

Pappa pomodoro

Tuscan bread soup has its roots in traditional peasant cuisine, using cheap ingredients and simple techniques. A rich tomato soup is reinforced with bread to add body and texture. This dish a great way of using up leftover bread, and can be made from scratch in less than an hour.

Burrata with summer salad and chickpea fritters

Silky, milky burrata is balanced with the crunch of peas, broad beans, radish and artichokes to make a gorgeous summer salad. Golden, crispy chickpea fritters add some earthy bite, and are a superb accompaniment which unites the cheese and greens together in seamless harmony.

Easy courgette fritters

Roasted radishes with whipped feta, brown butter leeks and poppy seeds

Salty feta cheese is whipped with garlic, olive oil, yoghurt and lemon juice to take it to the next level. The Greek flavours pair beautifully with roasted radishes and a generous serving of melt in the mouth brown butter leeks to make a show-stopping salad or starter for your summer feast.

Grilled sardines on ciabatta with tomato confit, basil and tapenade

Sardines are packed with nutrients, and are a great way of loading up on vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. By grilling or barbecuing your sardines, you crisp up the skin and release their intensely flavoursome oils. Serve them on ciabatta with plump confit tomatoes and homemade tapenade for healthy and satisfying snack.

Mains

Barbecued goat chops with smoky aubergine sauce

Goat is not always a first-choice meat, as it can be intimidating. Nonetheless, by marinating the meat and barbecuing it to a rosy pink medium-rare, you will have the most tender, succulent chops imaginable. Serve the chops with aubergine sauce and a sweet pomegranate dressing for a showstopper at your next summer barbecue.

Roast turbot with fennel, tarragon and lemon

Turbot is a king amongst fish, and by roasting it whole you achieve a dish that is simple to cook while boasting theatrical presentation. All the fish needs is some fennel, lemon and tarragon to heighten its natural fragrance and introduce subtle herbaceous notes.

Organic Mexican roast pork shoulder with grapefruit and scotch bonnet chilli

Sunday lunch just got upgraded! Bring the heat of Mexico to your roast pork shoulder with the fruity, warming spice of scotch bonnet chillies. A complex rub forms a delicious crust around the succulent meat, infused with earthy aromas. Sweet and zesty grapefruit dressing cuts through the richness for a mind-blowing main course.

Green Tabasco and coriander butter roasted poussin

Leg of lamb with braised celeriac, fennel and bitter leaves

A roast leg of lamb is a classic yet classy option for your Sunday meal. The natural sweetness of the lamb is harmoniously paired with earthy celeriac and braised bitter greens such as puntarelle, chicory and dandelion, which balance out the fatty richness of the meat.

Salads

Salade Niçoise

Salade Niçoise is one of the world’s most well-known, traditional French salads. Hailing from Nice, the dish features local ingredients such as olives, anchovies and soft-boiled eggs. The salad is wonderfully quick and simple to assemble, so it gives you the opportunity to present it with your own personal flair.

Chicken paillard with caper berries and roasted plum tomatoes

Pounding out and marinating chicken breasts ensures thin, tender cuts of meat which are perfect for grilling. Plum tomatoes, bursting with sweet and savoury juices, are a great way to add a refreshing touch. Vibrant rocket, salty capers and umami-laden Parmesan are all you need to complete this stunning salad.

Ensaladilla rusa

Ensaladilla rusa, or Russian salad, is a ubiquitous tapas dish in Spain. The fish, potato and hard-boiled egg-based dish blends an ensemble of fresh and cooked ingredients together to form a delectable mixture, eaten cold. Best served with some crunchy croutons, this is a summer dish that’s sure to please.

Persian-style rice salad with cherries

Wholegrain rice forms the healthy, substantial base of this salad, which is brought to life by the bold, Persian-style flavours. The cherries and pomegranate molasses make it sweet and tangy, whilst the cucumber and fresh herbs add a healthy freshness. Tart, zesty sumac brings together the ingredients of this all-round winning dish.

Tomato, borlotti bean and Provençal goat’s cheese salad

Simplicity is a dish best served cold. There is nothing intricate or complex about this goat’s cheese and heirloom tomato salad, so make sure that you are using the freshest, highest-quality ingredients. That way, every element can truly shine.

Desserts

Deep-filled cherry pie with polenta pastry

Cherry pie is a comfort dessert that never fails to deliver. Oozing, sticky cherries are encased in a buttery, flaky crust which locks in their tart, sweet flavour as it bakes. The pastry crust contains polenta, which adds another layer of satisfying crunch.

Mini Pavlova with lime curd and fresh fruit

The key to any great pavlova is a crisp outer shell and a gooey centre – these two textural elements form a sophisticated dessert which will go down a treat at any dinner party. The addition of a zesty lime curd complements the sweetness, and fresh fruits are a visually appealing topping for this elegant dish.

Strawberry and almond tart

A strawberry tart is a versatile dessert, which can be eaten hot or cold at any time of day. Strawberries and almonds are a match made in heaven, as they sit amongst a sweet, flaky shortcrust pastry. The tart is free-form, which makes it super simple to make at home.

Glazed lemon tart with crème fraiche

Lemon tart is a classic dessert – a benchmark for pastry chefs going back centuries. It seems simple enough, but a good lemon tart takes serious skill and attention to detail. Robert Thompson brûlées the top of his tart with sugar and a blowtorch for extra crunch, and finishes with a quenelle of crème fraîche.

Churros with chocolate sauce and almonds

These sticks of fried pastry dough are a Spanish staple. A simple paste is piped into oil and fried until golden and crispy, then dusted with cinnamon sugar. Best enjoyed with a generous drizzle of hot chocolate ganache and a sprinkling of crisp almonds, this is a dessert fit for any summer feast.

Gluten-free strawberries and cream cake

Whether Wimbledon's on or not, this cake is a celebration of Britain's incredible strawberries and is a must-bake when they're at the height of their season. It's gluten-free, but don't assume that means a crumbly, dry sponge – the rice flour results in a light, fluffy texture, which is the perfect base for plenty of cream and sweet, juicy fruit.

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