No matter what the season, there are times when only comfort food will do – but it needn't mean resorting to stodgy stews and heavy winter desserts. We've rounded up our top 20 summertime dishes that are full of flavour, packed with seasonal ingredients, and seriously comforting too.
1. Bacon nachos with cheese sauce
These fully loaded nachos are the ultimate comfort food – ideal for sharing with the family during a movie night or a sunny afternoon in the garden. Top crispy tortilla chips with smoked streaky bacon, spring onions, jalapenos and an oozy cheese sauce.
2. 15-minute chicken & halloumi burgers
These brilliant burgers are piled high with juicy chicken, halloumi, roasted red peppers and your choice of hummus, tzatziki or soured cream and chive dip. The best bit? They're on the table in just 15 minutes.
3. Spiced sweet potato burgers with avocado & basil salsa
Bite into these vegan burgers packed with flavour from cumin, chilli and ginger, plus a handful of sweet potato crisps for added crunch.
4. Chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches
For a seriously indulgent, super-comforting dessert, it's hard to beat an ice cream sandwich. Use chewy American-style chocolate chip cookies to sandwich your favourite vanilla ice cream, then get stuck in! Plates and napkins recommended.
5. Very-berry oat crumble
Crumbles are an irresistible dessert all year round, but this oaty bake really lets the flavour of summer shine through. Use up any fruit you have to hand, such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, redcurrants or blackcurrants – use frozen if you can't find fresh.
6. Clotted cream & raspberry ripple arctic roll
Tuck into a truly nostalgic treat with this retro arctic roll, filled with a rich home-churned clotted cream and berry filling. You can make it up to a week ahead, ready to slice and serve on the day.
7. Stickiest ever BBQ ribs with chive dip
These ribs are seriously sticky, smothered in a sweet, spicy sauce and slow-roasted before being finished on the barbecue. Serve with a homemade soured cream and chive dip to cut through the glaze.
8. BBQ pulled pork
Few dishes scream summer more than barbecued pulled pork. This classic American pork shoulder dish is slow cooked and shredded, before being piled into soft brioche buns. Add your choice of toppings – coleslaw and pickles will go down a treat – and finish with lashings of smoky BBQ sauce.
9. Black Forest pudding
Try a delicious twist on a classic summer pudding with this fruit-packed dessert, brimming with cherries, blackberries, black grapes, blueberries and blackcurrants and finished with a glug of crème de cassis. It's a great way to use up any leftover bread while being special enough to serve at a garden dinner party. Serve with a generous splash of single cream or a dollop of clotted cream.
10. Sausage, roasted veg & puy lentil one-pot
Pack three of your five-a-day into one dish with this filling one-pot, bulked out with Mediterranean vegetables and puy lentils. We opted for pork sausages but you could swap for your favourite vegetarian sausages for a meat-free meal.
11. Grilled salmon tacos with avocado salsa
These colourful fish tacos can be on the table in just 35 minutes. We've filled crisp shells with flaked salmon fillets, creamy avocado, tangy red onion and a garlicky yogurt sauce for a flavour-packed meal.
12. Aubergine & chickpea curry
Craving a curry? This vegan dish is sure to please. Fresh tomatoes and coconut milk simmer down into a satisfying, spiced sauce while chickpeas make it extra filling. Take it to the next level with a side of homemade naan and mango chutney.
13. Eton mess cheesecake
This incredible dessert is the epitome of summer decadence. The creamy cheesecake with a crumbly biscuit base is piled high with mini meringues, in-season strawberries and a scattering of edible flowers. Definitely one to Instagram!
14. Caramelised onion & thyme sausage rolls
These homemade sausage rolls may look impressive, but they're actually a doddle to make. Caramelised onion chutney and mustard adds a touch of heat and tang to the pork sausage filling. They're perfect finger food to enjoy al fresco in the garden or pack up as part of a picnic spread.
15. Tomato & courgette risotto
Use up a glut of summer vegetables in this classic Italian rice dish. We've added a touch of mascarpone for an extra creamy texture, and a generous sprinkle of grated cheese – go for parmesan or a vegetarian alternative.
16. Bacon, pea & basil macaroni
Serve up a bowl of this colourful pasta bake for a really comforting dinner. We've given the classic macaroni cheese a seasonal upgrade, adding peas, leeks and crisp streaky bacon – plus a scattering of fresh torn basil for a final hit of flavour.
17. Chicken Provençal with olives & artichokes
Chicken casserole has to be one of the most comforting meals there is, and we've created this summer-inspired one-pot to showcase ripe plum tomatoes in a herby, garlicky sauce. Serve with plenty of crusty bread to mop up the juices.
18. Baked ratatouille & goat’s cheese
Let late summer vegetables shine in this aubergine, pepper and courgette bake. This ratatouille-inspired dish is layered with a rich cheese sauce to create a luxurious vegetarian dinner. Serve alongside a crisp green salad, fluffy baked potatoes or crusty garlic bread.
19. Cannellini bean & fennel ragu
Cooking for two? Look no further than this hearty bean stew using in-season fennel and ripe cherry tomatoes. We've added pan-fried pancetta for extra flavour, but it's just as delicious without if you're after a vegetarian alternative.
20. Barbecued meatball kebabs
Make the most of sunny days and fire up the barbecue to make these Middle Eastern-style meatball kebabs. Harissa, mint, coriander and ras el hanout pack in plenty of spice to the lamb mince mixture, ready to be wrapped up in flatbreads with a generous drizzle of tahini sauce.
What are your favourite summer comfort food recipes? Let us know below...