This grilled chicken salad is a great starter or main course. The marinade is one to remember. It is very versatile and I have used it with pork, turkey, duck, beef and fish. You could double the quantities, as it will keep in a Kilner jar in the fridge for two weeks. The red pepper dressing is a real family favourite in our house and it is beautiful with fish, goats cheese or pasta.

We have been using a lot of blue cheese over the summer in the cookery school, and this bacon and Cashel Blue salad is popular. There are so many good blue cheeses produced in Ireland. People enjoy the creamy, salty taste and each one is that bit different – some milder than others. As well as Cashel Blue, I use Wicklow Blue, Crozier Blue from Tipperary (which is made with sheep’s milk) and Bellingham Blue from Castlebellingham, Co Louth. All are well worth trying. All our cheese in the restaurant is supplied by Sheridans, who are great supporters of Irish cheese.

Happy cooking,


Grilled chicken salad with roasted red pepper dressing

Serves four

4 chicken breast fillets, skin on

2 heads of romaine lettuce, separated into leaves and roughly cut or torn

For the marinade:

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

1 garlic clove, crushed

For the roasted red pepper dressing:

1 tbsp lemon rapeseed oil

1 small red onion, finely diced

1 small roasted red pepper, finely diced (from a jar is fine)

5 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

finely grated rind of ½ lemon

2 tsp caster sugar

2 tsp snipped fresh chives

1 tsp chopped fresh basil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 To make the marinade, place the soy sauce in a shallow non-metallic dish with the honey, sweet chilli sauce and garlic and mix well to combine. Make three shallow, diagonal slashes into each chicken breast and place them in the dish, turning to coat. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least two hours (or overnight is perfect, if time allows).

2 When ready to cook, preheat the grill to medium. Arrange the marinated chicken pieces and cook under the grill for seven to eight minutes on each side, until cooked through. Brush regularly with any remaining excess marinade. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly, then cut into slices.

3 To prepare the roasted red pepper dressing, warm the lemon rapeseed oil in a small pan. Gently fry the onion and roasted pepper for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the extra virgin rapeseed oil and vinegar, then add the lemon rind and sugar. Cook for another two to three minutes, until bubbling and warmed through. Season to taste and stir in the herbs. Keep warm.

4 To serve, arrange the lettuce leaves around large bowls or plates, scatter the chicken over the salad and drizzle with enough of the roasted red pepper dressing to nicely coat. Any remaining dressing can be served in a small bowl at the table.

The marinade is one to remember. It is very versatile and I have used it with pork, turkey, duck, beef and fish

Bacon and Cashel Blue salad

Serves four

225g (8oz) piece rindless streaky bacon, cut into lardons

2 shallots, finely diced

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 tsp wholegrain mustard

1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 cos lettuces, or 6 little Gem lettuces, separated into leaves

225g (8oz) Cashel Blue cheese, rind removed

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crusty French bread, to serve

1 Fry the bacon lardons in a dry non-stick frying pan until crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside, keeping warm. Add the shallots and sweat for two to three minutes until softened, but not browned, stirring occasionally.

2 Deglaze the pan with the red wine vinegar, then stir in the extra-virgin olive oil and mustard. Sprinkle in the parsley and season to taste.

3 Tear the lettuce leaves into bite-sized pieces and then place in a bowl. Pour over the hot dressing and quickly toss to coat.

4 Just before serving, add the crispy bacon and crumble the Cashel blue cheese on top. Divide between plates and serve with plenty of crusty French bread.

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