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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Donal Skeen’s favorite summer salads are fennel with lemon chicken, halloumi and chorizo, bougie bacon, and egg frisee.

I don’t know about you, but I’m on a full summer regime right now, and my kitchen and cooking certainly reflects that. Salads, in one form or another, are always present on the dining table, outdoors and indoors. The leaves, simply dressed with a good sip of extra virgin olive oil and a dash of lemon or apple cider vinegar, well seasoned and mixed with whatever mild herbs I can pick from the garden, are the start of every good summer meal.

In its simplest form, table salad is often seen as a side dish, but this week I want to bring you three recipes that bring it to the fore. We’re not going to be total vegetarians here – rather, let’s call it reductionism. Less meat, more greens and rich taste.

The combination of fennel and orange pairs beautifully together – bitter, sweet and very fresh in taste. I would love to eat it on its own, but with thinly sliced ​​onions and herbs like dill and mint, it really shines in my Lemon Oregano Chicken Thigh recipe. I grill thighs to give them deep, smoky charred marks and crispy skin.

The marinade for chicken is incredibly simple, but very effective – olive oil, lemon and orange zest and lots of dried oregano. Look for dried oregano sprigs, not jarred jars. The leaves and buds crushed in this marinade will go a long way.

Next up is an obscenely simple salad that has become a classic in our home since the days when both halloumi and chorizo ​​were new to the island of Ireland. If you’ve ever needed proof that you can cook something incredibly delicious in a very short time, here it is! It’s filled with the savory heat of chorizo ​​and the salty sourness of halloumi, making it tasty and satisfying enough for a mid-week lunch. Speed ​​up this recipe by purchasing sun-reddened tomatoes instead of roasting them yourself.

Finally, for a French dinner experience, try the Bacon and Egg Frize Salad. It looks incredibly easy, and there’s something chic about the self-confidence to serve something so simple for dinner with a glass of wine.

Chicken Lemon Oregano with Fennel Salad


Chicken with lemon and oregano with fennel salad. Picture: Donal Skehan

Time: 1 hour + marinating time Servings: 4

For chicken:
Juice and zest of ½ lemon
Juice of 1 orange
4 garlic cloves
50 ml olive oil
1 tbsp sea salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tbsp thyme leaves
8 free-range chicken thighs with skin and bones

For salad:
2 oranges, peeled and segmented, juice reserved
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 head chicory, leaves divided
Small handful of dill, coarsely chopped
Small handful of fresh mint, plucked leaves
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
50 ml extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. In the bowl of a small food processor or spice grinder, add the juice and zest of half a lemon, orange juice, garlic cloves, olive oil, salt, dried oregano, and thyme leaves and blend until smooth.
2. Pour over the chicken thighs and marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
3. When you’re done, preheat the grill with coals on one side only, or place the skillet over high heat. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade, shaking off any excess, and cook over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, skin side down, until browned and golden. If you are using a barbecue, move the chicken thighs to the uncharred side and cover with a lid. Cook for 25-30 minutes until the meat is tender. If you are using a skillet on the stovetop, when the thighs are browned and golden, transfer them to a baking sheet and place in the oven at 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 25-30 minutes until done.
4. To separate the oranges, use a flexible knife to cut off some of the top and bottom of the orange so you can place it on a cutting board. Using a knife, cut the skin and core off the orange, following its natural curve – be careful not to remove too much of the pulp! Holding the orange in one hand, use the knife to carefully score the membrane of each segment, pulling them out from the center until they are completely removed. You should be left with a piece of meat. Repeat until all segments have been removed. Squeeze the remaining orange slice over a small bowl to retain the juice. Place all segments in another small bowl.
5. Using a mandolin, thinly slice the fennel and red onion into a bowl and add the chicory leaves, orange slices, half the dill and mint.
6. Add the Dijon mustard and extra virgin olive oil to the bowl of reserved orange juice. Season well with salt and pepper and beat until emulsified. Drizzle dressing over salad and arrange on a serving platter. Sprinkle with remaining herbs and serve with cooked chicken on a separate plate.

Salad “Fragrance Bomb”


Salad “Fragrance bomb”. Pictured: Donal Skehan.

Servings: 2 Time: 35 min.

300 g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
100 g chorizo ​​sausage, cut into large discs
200 g halloumi cheese, cut into 1 cm thick slices
1 Baby Gem lettuce leaf, separated from the leaves
200 g chickpeas, drain and rinse
½ red onion, peeled and finely chopped

For refueling:
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
Salt and black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
2. Mix tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and place in a baking dish. Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes until they are narrowed and caramelized.
3. Meanwhile, fry the chorizo ​​in a skillet over high heat until the discs sizzle and brown. Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Save the oil from the chorizo ​​in the skillet.
4. Return the pan to the heat and fry the halloumi slices on both sides until they are a nice golden color.
5. To make the dressing, pour the lemon juice into a bowl, then add the apple cider vinegar and garlic. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper and stir to combine.
6. In a large bowl, toss Baby Gem lettuce with dressing, chickpeas, chorizo ​​and red onion and transfer to serving bowls. Garnish with halloumi slices and roasted cherry tomatoes and serve immediately.

Frize with bacon and egg


Frieze with bacon and egg. Picture: Donal Skehan

Time: 15 minutes Servings: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
200 g smoked bacon bacon
2 slices rye bread, cut into 1 cm cubes
150-200 g Frize lettuce, torn
4 large free range eggs
2 tbsp green onion, chopped
For the vinaigrette dressing:
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and fry the bacon for 2-3 minutes until crispy. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Fry bread in bacon fat until crispy. Then drain on kitchen paper.
2. Put the lettuce leaves in a salad bowl, add the bacon and crispy bread.
3. Mix vinegar with mustard, tarragon, sea salt and black pepper. Then add extra virgin olive oil to make a vinaigrette.
4. Boil water in a small saucepan, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Crack the eggs one at a time directly into the boiling water. Cook them for 2-3 minutes so that the whites are cooked, but the yolks are still runny. Drain with a slotted spoon onto kitchen paper.
5. Pour the salad with vinaigrette and mix. Divide among four plates and place an egg on each. Sprinkle with green onions and serve.

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