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Everyone is familiar with the trusty BBQ and the refreshing zing that comes with eating outdoors, but there is much more to the pleasure of al fresco dining. Our easy outdoor food is simply delicious and we’ve thrown in some top tips for al fresco dining too. So whether you’re entertaining guests late into the summer nights, or just enjoying a quick break off work and eating lunch al fresco, we’ve got something for you. Try an afternoon tea in your garden, or a charcuterie board as a snack with outdoor drinks as easy options to get you started, before you know it you'll be cooking on a fire pit, barbequing on the beach or just toasting marshmallows long into the evening.  

What is Al Fresco Dining?

The Italian expression ‘al fresco’ translates to ‘in the chill’ or ‘in the cool’. Al fresco refers to doing (especially with reference to eating) in the open air. Put simply, to dine al fresco is to eat outside!

Easy Outdoor Food Inspiration

Need something to spark your foodie imagination? Check out these al fresco recipes and whip up a tasty meal for your guests.

Cheesy Sharing Bread

Take a roll of crusty bread (we recommend sourdough or tiger bread for this one!) and make scoring marks diagonally down the roll. Then score down the length of the bread in the opposite direction, leaving a criss-cross pattern. Pour butter (with garlic, if you prefer) into the crevices and sprinkle with cheddar, Red Leicester and mozzarella cheese. Cover in foil and bake in the oven until the cheese is melted. Serve with a selection of dips including ranch, hummus, aioli and guacamole.

Curried Pasta Salad

Boil pasta to your desired firmness. Mix mayo, curry paste, yoghurt, lime juice and chutney into a thick sauce. Add a pinch of salt, pepper and garlic salt to taste. Add the pasta and sauce to chopped cucumber, celery and fresh coriander. As this dish is best served cold, it’s ideal for al fresco dining.

Prawn Skewers

No BBQ? No problem. Soak wooden skewers in water for roughly an hour prior to use. Thread prawns, peppers and mushrooms onto each skewer. Drizzle with olive oil and top with garlic, chopped chives and a pinch of salt. Fry on a low heat until the prawns are cooked. Squeeze lemon over the skewer before topping with parsley. This dish is quick and easy, perfect for al fresco dining.

Bonus: these prawns are low in fat and are perfect with a crisp summer wine. 

Lemon and Herb Roasted Potatoes

Score the potatoes several times, ensuring you don’t cut the whole way through. Mix butter, garlic, lemon, thyme and rosemary. Coat the potatoes in the mix, pushing the butter into the slices. Roast as normal and serve up as a light, summery side dish.

Need more? Check out our summer recipes for brilliant BBQs, perfect picnics and seasonal salads. 

Outdoor Food Tips and Tricks

Got the food prepped? Next, make sure you’ve got everything you need for your outdoor meals. Here are some top tips for al fresco dining.

Citronella candles

If you’ve ever eaten outside before, you’ll know that sometimes bugs pose a potential threat to your meal. But eating al fresco doesn’t mean you need to be joined by every flying critter within a mile, so burning citronella candles helps to keep them at bay. This is a bonus for those who enjoy the sweet scent of citronella while the candles create a lovely ambience at dusk and into the evening. Top tip: Remember a lighter or matches for the candles. 

Pack food carefully

If you’re travelling for your outdoor meal, pack the food wisely. Make sure warm food is kept next to other warm food if possible, and double check that lids and zips are shut tight. For extra security, keep dry food in different bags to wet food in case of any leaks. Top Tip: Have you thought about cutlery, plates & plastic glasses? Don't forget a corkscrew or bottle opener! 

Don’t dress the salad until you’re ready to eat

Salad wilts quickly, especially in the heat. To make sure that it stays crispy and fresh, wait as long as possible to add dressing – and don’t add the dressing until you arrive at your destination if you’re not eating at home. Top tip: If you don't have any suitable bottles, transport your dressing in an old jam jar. Just make sure the lid is screwed on tightly! 

Be prepared for spills

No matter what happens, it’s likely that something will end up being spilled, especially if you’re eating with little ones. Keep something to mop up handy (like napkins, or kitchen roll) just in case. You don’t want to entice the ants any more than necessary!

Expect rain

We’re no strangers to rain in the UK and even through the summer we may be treated to the occasional downpour. So regardless of the forecast, make sure you have a back-up in case of inclement weather. If possible, eat under a gazebo or parasol so your meal won’t be interrupted by an impromptu shower.

Pick up Your Outdoor Food Ingredients from SPAR

Ready to take on the great outdoors? Grab all the ingredients for your big night out from your local SPAR. Love our outdoor food inspiration? For recipes, competitions and more, sign up to our newsletter.