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14 excellent sharing dishes to make now it's al fresco dining season

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After the long, long winter, we are finally having a bit of heatwave. Or, at least, more sun and less cold. And in the UK that means one thing for sure - it’s time for dining in the garden.

But al fresco dining calls not only for sangria and chilled cider but for lighter and easier to cook meals. Hot dishes are allowed, but only if you used the barbeque to make them.

And if you’re already planning on having an al fresco night with the family, a barbeque with friends or just a birthday party in the garden, we have some food inspiration ready for you.

1.      1. The Caprese Salad

A personal favourite, this salad is more of an arrangement, rather than a mixed-veggie bowl. You only need three things to make it: mozzarella, tomatoes and green pesto. Cut the tomatoes and mozzarella in wheels and sprinkle pesto on top. Delicious!

          2. Avocado and tomato on toast 

          What, entertaining friends with a plate full of avocado sounds a little millennial cliche? We care not. Absorb your good fats whilst sticking up a middle-finger to judgy Telegraph-writers. Get the recipe here. 

2.       3. Gaspacho

The original Spanish cold soup has gone through many variations, and now the name is simply associated with any recipe that does not require boiling. Pick your favourite ingredients (no meat and egg, as they require cooking) and mix them in the blender. Who says tomato soup has to be hot?

3.       4. Mixed salad

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Unleash your creative side and mix a gigantic bowl of salad to accommodate all of your guests needs. Eaten as a side or a starter, who cares? The more salad the better.

          5. Fancy fish fingers 

          Embrace your inner child with this slightly-spicy twist on the traditional Birds Eye fish finger sandwich. We won't judge you for dunking in ketchup. Get the recipe here. 

4.       6. Skewers

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Again, absolutely up to your imagination. Mix meat and vegetables or make them all vegan. There are no rules at all and we all love them.

5.       7. Summer rolls

A not-so-popular alternative of spring rolls. No deep-frying needed here. Shrimp is a popular ingredient, but even all-vegetable feeling is going to be delicious. Just don’t forget to boil the filling first. The next step would be to boil the rice paper and roll them. A certain surprise for your guests, guaranteed to give you the “master chef” acclaim.

          8. Bacon burger dippers 

          Thought you could only create pigs in blankets at Christmas? Just call us mavericks. Learn how you can break with tradition here. 

6.      9. Bruschetta

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These ones are topped with a mix of tomato, cucumber, mango and avocado and we think they soundslike a delicacy.

7.       10. Hummus and dips

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Just go to your local Co-op Food and choose a selection of your favourite flavours. Warm up some pitta or toasted bread and add a little side dish of olives sprinkled with oil and herbs. Simplicity is key!

8.       11. Cheeseboard

The almighty king of every garden party. A well-presented cheeseboard is guaranteed to elevate the mood. Don’t forget the crackers, chutneys and fruit.

         12. Cheddar and spinach twists 

        The main ingredients in these delightful twists are all British (from the West Country, to be exact), so they're great if you're feeling patriotic. Royal wedding garden party, perhaps?        

     13. A watermelon arrangement

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Create a masterpiece of colours to grace the middle of your table. Watermelon slices and all kinds of colourful fruit - a light finish to a fresh meal.

           14. Cauliflower pizza 

          We couldn't end this delectable round-up of sharing foods without throwing in the original night-on-the-patio special. This pizza is full of cheesy goodness, and is veggie to boot. A winner for sure. Get the recipe. 

Students get 10% off at Co-op Food with an NUS extra card.

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