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5 Summer Al Fresco Dining Ideas

Estate - 12.08.21

Whatever the weather might be telling us, summer’s still here! It’s the perfect time to cook up some refreshing, easy and – most importantly – tasty meals to be eaten outdoors in the sunshine. Barbeques are the obvious route, but why not try something interesting and new? How about a picnic by the mere at Combermere Abbey – something truly loved by many of our cottage guests, especially in the summer months. There’s never been a better time to don the apron and try a fresh new recipe to dine al-fresco this summer.


The word al fresco comes from the Italian for “in the fresh air” which we thinks sums any experience at Combermere Abbey up perfectly… We’re all about getting back to nature. Below, our team have put together some suggestions on what you might like to rustle up – all ready for a lakeside date.


5 Summer Al Fresco Dining Ideas


  1. Salads


Salads don’t have to just be a boring accompaniment to the main event: they can be the showstopper all on their own! There’s no end of interesting combinations you can try out to make a salad that’s out of this world. Make sure it’s colourful and tasty, and the world’s your oyster! We love this roast chicken garden salad, with ciabatta pieces, and you can even make it a vegan option by replacing the roast chicken and prosciutto with meat substitutes. There’s also Jamie Oliver’s excellent wild rice salad, if you want to change it up a little. One of the wonderful things about staying at Combermere Abbey’s self-catering cottages, is that you can cook whatever you’d like in our fully equipped kitchens. If you’re holidaying here for a few days, why not make an event of a picnic down by the mere and pull out all the stops when it comes to your food choices? The perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon for friends, families, and couples alike.



  1. A Mezze platter


There’s a strong likelihood that you probably haven’t been to Greece this year. That’s okay – this is the perfect excuse to bring the Mediterranean to your back garden! Plus, it’s all about staycations at the moment anyway. A mezze platter is a fun, easy and family-friendly crowd pleaser. You’ll need an assortment of ingredients, but many of these – including hummus, cucumber and peppers – are all items you can buy at the local farmers markets nearby to Combermere Abbey. You’re supporting local businesses then too! Must-haves for your platter include feta cheese, olives, pita bread and cold meats like salami and prosciutto. Make it decorative and colourful and you can’t go wrong – plus, this’ll look really fancy on your Instagram or Facebook feed too, if that floats your boat. (Don’t forget to tag us in any Instagram snaps by adding @combermere_abbey to your post). According to The Mediterranean Dish, there’s no right or wrong way to mezze – except to not share it!


  1. Kebab skewers


Whether it’s halloumi, prawns, chicken or vegetables… Kebabs are the ultimate al fresco dining crowd-pleaser, and can be tailored to suit even the fussiest eaters. They’re relatively easy and make little mess, leaving you more time to chill with a piña colada… These salt and pepper tofu skewers from Jamie Oliver are perfect for the non-meat eaters, or if you’re feeling traditional (or feeding a lot of carnivores!) these Middle Eastern-style chicken kebabs spice up a classic.



  1. Tarts & Quiches


Tarts and quiches are extremely versatile and can be taken anywhere, perfect for if you fancy a spot of Saturday morning cooking in your cottage before heading out for a day exploring our grounds. A classic quiche Lorraine is guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser. Or, why not also try out this leek, mushroom and potato tart, paired with salad and rice?



  1. Desserts


So you’ve cooked up a storm for your al fresco main, but you can’t forget dessert! There are plenty of easy, refreshing summer puddings you could try your hand to. While some people might reach straight for the ice pops, why not alternate with a fruit salad, topped with cream? Opt for strawberries to bring Wimbledon right to your door! There are several classic British desserts that suit the sunny weather, like Eton mess, which is light and fruity, and doesn’t weigh too heavy after your delicious first course. This summer berry mousse cake is another stunning-looking dessert guaranteed to round off your lovely afternoon of relaxation nicely.


If you’re staying with us and find that you’re not in the mood for cooking, don’t worry – you still have plenty of options! Some of our favourite places to purchase fresh, locally sourced food from are:


Benjamin’s Café and the Cheese Shop both require collection after ordering over the phone. However, Graze (favoured by the Real Housewives of Cheshire!) and the Chestnut Grove both offer deliveries for their amazing platters. Perfect for outdoor snacking!


What are your favourite al fresco meals? We’d love to see your efforts – be sure to tag us on Instagram or Twitter! And don’t forget, if you’re planning a lakeside picnic during your time at Combermere Abbey’s cottages, make sure to tag us on social media so we can see you having a wonderful time.



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