Recipes for three al fresco lunches to brighten up your bank holiday weekend

As Europe swelters in roasting temperatures, the UK is facing an upcoming heatwave that is expected to last till September.

Brits are expecting to enjoy a warmer bank holiday and supermarkets are already stocking up on summery, BBQ-ready food.

A bank holiday feels special, where you want to eat dishes that put a smile on your face. What do you do, when you want inspiration for a bank holiday menu?

Here are three dishes that are filling, wholesome, delicious and guaranteed to whet your appetite.

1. Pulled jackfruit tortillas draped with pickled pink onion

Fiery jackfruit tortillas topped with cooling sour cream and a sprinkling of pretty red chilli flakes (pul biber) are quick to put together and a substantial meal. The pink onions are super fast and require zero cooking, just make sure you start their ‘pickling’ as soon as you can.

Makes 6 loaded tortillas for 2 hungry people



Pulled jackfruit tortilla draped with pickled pink onion
Pulled jackfruit tortilla draped with pickled pink onion

Ingredients

6 soft tortillas, 2x400g cans jackfruit in brine (yields 420g jackfruit), 1 small white onion, 4 fat cloves garlic thinly sliced, 1 tablespoon Cajun spice, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon ground coriander, 1 heaped teaspoon smoked paprika, large pinch salt, pul biber, glug vegetable oil for frying.

Filling: shredded lettuce, 2 sliced avocados, small tub sour cream, sprigs coriander (including stalks).

Pickled pink onion: 1 small red onion, 200ml white wine vinegar, sprinkling salt.

Recipe

  • Slice red onion into half moons slivers, sprinkle with salt, pour over white wine vinegar and set aside.
  • Dice and sauté 1 small onion till golden brown.
  • Add garlic, all spices and salt, frying until fragrant for 30 seconds.
  • Add drained jackfruit, fry for a minute till fully coated in the spicy oil. You can also use chicken instead of the jackfruit, in which case you would flatten four chicken breasts, chop into 5-inch pieces to speed up cooking time, and sauté for around five minutes until the meat is slightly golden. For chicken, make sure it is cooked through and no pink meat remains.
  • Use two forks to roughly shred the jackfruit or meat. You are looking for thick, thumb-length strands, which you can then pile onto tortillas and top with shredded lettuce, sliced avocado, sour cream, pickled pink onions, pul biber and a sprinkling of fresh coriander for an earthy punch.

Top tips

If you like tangy foods, make double the quantity of red onions, cover with vegetable oil and refrigerate in an airtight container, which will keep for two weeks in the fridge. Use these tangy tendrils in sandwiches and salads throughout the week, to brighten up dishes and liven any palate.

If using chicken, to speed up the shredding process, place the cooked chicken in a bowl and use a hand blender to shred the chicken in seconds. This works for any meat especially pork, if you have a large pork shoulder to shred.

If you like crispier food, pan-fry the jackfruit for 5 minutes before adding to the onion mix. This will give you some crispy edges to add texture to the dish.

If you can’t get hold of pul biber, crushed dried red chilli flakes will do.

Cut your avocado last, as this will start to brown and oxidise as soon as you expose the flesh to air.

2. Summery orzo salad with roast tomatoes, buried Padrón peppers, chargrilled lemon, garlicky mozzarella



Summery orzo salad with roast tomatoes, buried Padrón peppers, chargrilled lemon, garlicky mozzarella
Summery orzo salad with roast tomatoes, buried Padrón peppers, chargrilled lemon, garlicky mozzarella

This bright and summery dish is great if you can’t decide on pasta or rice. This warm pasta salad serves 2, however you will have some leftover, which is perfect for a light lunch the next day. The mozzarella is creamy and offset nicely by the chargrilled lemons that provide fragrance and a beautiful pop of colour to the dish.

Ingredients

200 grams orzo pasta, vegetable stock cube, small bunch basil (stalks separated from leaves), handful parsley, glug garlic-infused olive oil (for tomatoes), glug vegetable oil (for lemons), 2 large unwaxed lemons, 400g cherry tomatoes on the vine, 10 Padrón peppers, 1 mozzarella ball, sea salt, cracked black pepper.

Recipe

  • Preheat oven on 230° fan.
  • Place cherry tomatoes on the vine on a baking tray along with basil stalks, drizzle with garlic-infused olive oil, sprinkle sea salt and roast for 15 minutes in
  • Boil water, orzo pasta and stock cube for 10 minutes.
  • In a separate pan, pour in vegetable oil on a medium-high heat and tumble in the Padrón peppers. Fry for around 5 minutes until they’re blistered, then place onto plate with kitchen paper.
  • In the same pan used to fry the Padrón peppers, turn up the heat to the highest level until the oil is shimmering. Place 4 halves of lemons flesh side down and leave for 7 – 10 minutes. They will sputter, so cover if you can and don’t move them, as you want them to become wonderfully scorched.
  • Drain orzo (don’t discard the starchy water) and stir in roughly chopped basil and parsley. Remove tomatoes from the oven, which should be beautifully darkened and burst, plucking them from the vine and gently stirring them into the warm pasta.
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper. Tuck Padrón peppers and torn mozzarella into the pasta so they are lightly burrowed, then get the baking tin that you roasted your tomatoes in, and pour the garlicky, roast tomato and basil emulsion directly into the mozzarella. Using tongs, gather your beautifully chargrilled lemon halves and dot them around the pasta dish to display the burnt citrussy flesh.

Top tips

Don’t throw away your starchy pasta water. This emulsion will make any sauce silken and luxurious and will keep for up to a week in the fridge. I use ladle-fulls in pasta sauces, curries, casseroles and soups.

Always use basil stalks in cooking, they are just as flavoursome and provide extra flavour and crunch. When using basil leaves, rub a fistful of leaves between your hands and tear, instead of chopping. This releases more oils on the leaf surface and produces a more flavoursome dish.

These chargrilled lemons become squidgy and sweet, so they can easily be used in a dressing that will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

3. Asian inspired loaded chips and cheese



Asian inspired loaded chips and cheese with spiced yoghurt
Asian inspired loaded chips and cheese with spiced yoghurt

This take on cheesy chips using paneer is wonderfully satisfying. It can be used as lunch, match day food, or a fuss-free dish to tuck into whilst watching Netflix. Serve with a dollop of pickle spiced salad dressing.

Serves 2

Ingredients

5 large Maris Piper potatoes, 300g paneer, 3 glugs vegetable oil (1 for chips, 1 for paneer, 1 for tomato curry base), 400g passata, 1 small onion, 1 green chilli, 3 cloves sliced garlic, thumb-sized piece of finely chopped ginger, 2 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon garam masala, 1 pinch ground cloves, salt and black pepper, 5 large dollops of natural yoghurt, 1 heaped tablespoon Indian pickle (Pathaks or Geeta’s are good).

Recipe

  • Preheat oven 220°fan.
  • Chip the potatoes and parboil in salted water for 5 minutes. Drain then place into a roasting tin, drizzle generously with vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt and roast for 30 minutes, giving the tray a shuffle halfway through cooking.
  • Slice paneer into 3 inch cubes and fry till lightly golden for 5 minutes. Place browned paneer onto a plate with kitchen paper.
  • In the same pan, fry onion till translucent. Add sliced green chilli (discarding seeds to lower chilli heat if you prefer), garlic, ginger and all spices.
  • Fry for 30 seconds till fragrant, add passata, simmer for 15 minutes then stir in golden fried paneer.
  • Mix 5 large dollops of natural yoghurt with a tablespoon of Indian pickle (Pathaks or Geeta’s are good).
  • Once chips are cooked, serve in 2 deep bowls. Top with paneer curry and generous dollops of pickle spiced yoghurt.

Top tips

If you’re short on time, skip the browning paneer stage. Sure this adds a toasty depth to the dish, but it is not imperative.

If you’re cooking for people with varying preferences to chilli heat, cook the dish with whole, unsliced chillies. When dishing up, make sure the person with the preference for hot dishes gets more chillies. The chillies will be squidgy and soft, and can be torn apart and seeds mixed into the rest of the dish.

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