|(Serves 8 to 10)
Don’t shy away from having the whole gang over just because it’s hot outside. Keep your cool and set the picnic table with a mix of easy stir-together entrees. The Crusty country sandwich is a breeze to prepare – just buy a big crunchy loaf and fill it with sliced deli meat and a few condiments. It can even be made a day ahead. Fast chicken tacos are also a surefire crowd-pleaser. Stuff the shells with slices of barbecued chicken from the supermarket, then raid the fridge for your favourite taco toppings.
Grab a bag of cooked frozen shrimp to make our Caribbean shrimp toss, then dress it up with the easy stir-together ginger-lime-soy dressing.
A Four-storey fiesta salad is the perfect wilt-proof choice for a large gathering and should be made a day ahead to taste its best.
Finish up your feast with Yogurt fruit swirls – they look like yummy ice cream parfaits, but yogurt and ripe raspberries and blueberries pack a healthy punch.
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Sweltering hot days can put a damper on our appetites, so keep dining on the light side. Bypass heavy foods and go for crisp, tangy flavours. Start off with a refreshing Passion-fruit sipper. The combination of tart passion-fruit juice, white wine and a splash of rum served over ice is sure to please.
Shredded fresh basil perks up deli barbecued chicken in our Bistro chicken sandwich, proving even sandwiches can be sophisticated. Pair them with Mediterranean lentil salad with feta – it’s a breeze to prepare.
Top off the evening with Raspberry meringue clouds – made up of a heady mix of tangy lemon-scented yogurt, crushed meringue, fresh raspberries and coconut flakes.
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10 no-cook staples
1. Deli barbecued chicken or sliced meats: Great as sandwich fillers, added to coleslaw or leafy green salads, or stirred into store-bought pasta salads.
2. Canned beans: A can of mixed beans, lentils or chickpeas can easily be turned into a healthy salad just by adding your favourite vinaigrette, chopped fresh or frozen cooked vegetables â even cooked chicken or pork. Finish with chopped fresh herbs and grated or cubed cheese.
3. Frozen cooked shrimp: Eat as is tossed with lemon juice, olive oil and snipped chives or add to store-bought vegetable, rice or couscous salads.
4. Canned tuna or salmon: Great as sandwich fillers, added to leafy green salads or stirred into store-bought pasta salads.
5. Lemons: A fresh squeeze of lemon juice perks up leftover grilled chicken or fish, is essential for homemade vinaigrette and dressings, and adds punch to cocktails.
6. Olives: Pit, then chop and add to salads, store-bought pasta or potato salads, or scatter over pizza.
7. Hot sauce: A splash adds instant flavour to everything. Stir into salad dressings, mix with mayo for a sandwich spread or add dashes to a platter of sliced tomatoes.
8. Almonds: They’re great for snacking, and a good alternative when you want to have a meatless meal but still get some protein. Add to leafy greens tossed with chopped peppers and tomatoes.
9. Summer fruit: A mixture of berries, watermelon and sliced stone fruit (nectarines, peaches, plums) tastes good au naturel, but can easily be turned into effortless desserts or drinks, or star as the summer ingredient in salads.