Four fast al fresco dining dishes for those glorious sunny days

Dust off the patio furniture and try these easy and delicious summer sizzlers

When the sun finally makes an appearance in Ireland, I always feel the mad scramble to slap on the factor 50, dig out that old reliable sun dress and make the most of the garden patio dining set.

Let’s be honest, hazy sunny days are few and far between in this country, so it’s always great to have a few quick and delicious al fresco dining dishes to fall back on when the temperatures heat up.

When it comes to family meals in summer, al fresco has to be one of our favourite ways to dine. A quick wipe down of the patio set, new batteries in the outdoor fairy lights for that mini festival vibe and Elbow’s One Day Like This drifting gently from Alexa — perfect.

Gather together your favourite nibbles or cheeseboard to serve as a grazing side dish to these tasty summer sizzlers.

Mini Brie and walnut pastries

  • 1 Preheat the oven to 180 degrees fan or gas mark 6.
  • 2 Take a 12-hole muffin tin and oil it well.
  • 3 Using a 6-inch cookie cutter, cut 12 rounds from a sheet of ready-rolled shortcrust pastry.
  • 4 Put the rounds in the fridge to chill while you make the filling.
  • 5 Sauté 1 diced red onion and 100g of bacon lardons in 1 tsp of butter and a drizzle of honey. When cooked, allow to cool.
  • 6 Mix together 2 free range eggs and 200ml of single cream. Season with black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.
  • 7 Place a pastry round into each hole of the muffin tin.
  • 8 Divide the cooled onion mix between the 12 holes, then carefully top up each one with the egg mixture.
  • 9 Divide 200g of creamy Irish Brie into 12 pieces, pop 1 piece gently into each pastry and finish off by adding a walnut half to each.
  • 10 Bake for 15 minutes until set and the pastry is golden.
  • 11 Serve in the garden with a large bowl of dressed, leafy greens.

15-minute halloumi burgers

  • 1 Heat a drizzle of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
  • 2 Slice 2 250g halloumi blocks in half along the centre so you end up with 4 square “burgers”.
  • 3 In a bowl combine 200g of cornflour, 1 tbs of smoked paprika, 1 tsp of cayenne pepper, 1 tsp of oregano and a good shake of salt and pepper.
  • 4 Brush each halloumi piece all over with rapeseed oil and coat both sides with the cornflour and spice mix.
  • 5 Fry on your heated pan for 5 minutes on each side, trying not to move them around the pan so they don’t lose their crispy coating.
  • 6 Serve on brioche buns with a dab of sweet chilli sauce and thinly sliced, crunchy iceberg lettuce.

Pan-fried garlic prawns in a creamy sauce

  • 1 Cook 400g of pasta (tagliatelle/spaghetti) in a pot of salted water according to the package directions.
  • 2 Place a large frying pan over a medium heat and add a drizzle of rapeseed oil.
  • 3 Sauté 1 diced medium white onion and 2 crushed garlic cloves.
  • 4 Add 450g of uncooked, pre-prepared prawns — you will find these in most supermarkets.
  • 5 Season with salt and pepper and sizzle for 5 minutes until the prawns are pink.
  • 6 Mix 3 tbs of your pasta water with 200g of crème fraîche (this brings your crème fraîche up to room temperature, preventing it from splitting when it hits the pan) and add to the prawns.
  • 7 When the pasta is cooked, drain and add it to the pan giving it a good mix to cover it in that delicious creamy sauce.
  • 8 Top with grated Parmesan, a good handful of freshly snipped parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • 9 Finish with a final flourish of chilli flakes to serve.

Sticky Chinese chicken kebabs

  • 1 Preheat your oven to 180 degrees fan.
  • 2 Slice 4 free-range chicken breasts into bite-sized chunks.
  • 3 Make a marinade by mixing 2 tbs of soy sauce, 2 tbs of honey and 1 tbs of Chinese 5 spice.
  • 4 Add the chicken to the marinade.
  • 5 Boil 3 nests of noodles according to the packet instructions.
  • 6 Slice 1 red onion and a 3 pack of coloured peppers into wedges.
  • 7 Build your skewers up by adding a wedge of onion, a chunk of chicken then a wedge of pepper and repeating until full.
  • 8 Oven bake for 20-25 minutes.
  • 9 In the meantime, crush 1 garlic clove and grate 1 finger of ginger.
  • 10 Fry in a drizzle of oil in a hot wok for 2 minutes along with any leftover onion or pepper.
  • 11 Drain the noodles, add to the wok and drizzle in 1 tbsof soy and 1 tbs of honey.
  • 12 Season with salt and pepper.
  • 11 When the skewers are cooked, serve immediately on a bed of those delicious noodles.