Ever wanted to take your al fresco dining a notch above the standard grilling fare?
Burgers and steaks are great and all, but sometimes a bit more refinement is called for when entertaining guests or simply enjoying a gorgeous summer evening. Whether you’re putting together a composed salad or trying your hand at tartare, two Alberta chefs chefs to weigh in with tips on where to get started.
Paul Shufelt, chef and proprietor of Workshop Eatery in Edmonton, is all about keeping things simple when it comes to dining al fresco.
“You don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen if the weather is nice out,” he laughs.
That couldn’t be more true in Alberta, where the threat of snow is viable virtually every month of the year!
Shufelt also points out that summer means working with the best ingredients at peak season, so you don’t need do to a lot to them. His go-to for enjoying the warmer weather is salad. Not necessarily lettuce and tomatoes, but salads that capture the freshness of summer’s bounty.
He also suggests making pestos, vinaigrettes, and marinades well in advance. Not only do they taste better if prepared a day or two ahead of time, it also leaves you more time to spend with your houseguests enjoying the warmth and sunshine.
Just because something is “light” doesn’t mean it can’t pack a lot of flavour. For Chef Rogelio Herrera at Alloy in Calgary, his go-to trick for al fresco dining is to use lots of spice.
“When you eat spicy food your body sweats and it cools you down,” he explains. “It’s the perfect strategy for balancing taste and practicality.”
He also suggests opting for raw dishes like tartares, or lightly cooked options like tataki. Going directly to the source and establishing a relationship with your fishmonger is the best way to source the freshest, tastiest ingredients. Rogelio also adds that you should keep your fish on ice and eat it pronto!
“You cool your beer on ice, and you have to cool fresh food on ice too,” he advises.
Finally, you can’t neglect a drink pairing to accompany whatever you’re making. A refreshing Caipirinha or caipiroska work wonderfully matched with Chef Rogelio’s watermelon and prawn salad. Here’s the recipe.