Monday 19 February 2018

Donal Skehan: The big easy for sunny summer menus

Many of us take the microwave option when dining alone, but here Donal Skehan shows that bold, flavoursome, summer dishes can be made with very little fuss

Donal Skehan
Donal Skehan

Donal Skehan

Summer is one of the best times of the year to enjoy food and while I love entertaining for friends outdoors, I am always on the lookout for interesting recipes for quick and tasty solo meals. Lunchbox saviours like my bento box chorizo scotch eggs will make you feel you're not missing out on the sunshine even if you're stuck at your desk working.

Simple BBQ suppers, easy lunchbox foods and elegant dinners for one can be thrown together easily, leaving you more time to enjoy the best of the season.

Some of the most vibrant food to prepare can be the simplest and my highly impressive summer salad of salmon sashimi, creamy avocado, rocket, coriander and toasted sesame seeds is a perfect example. The whole salad is brought together with a pale green dressing humming with heat from wasabi paste. It's a light and bright salad and makes an ideal treat if you're dining solo as it is simple to prepare.

Scotch eggs are making a serious comeback and rightfully so; they make ideal picnic fare as they are essentially an individual self-contained mini meal. The new wave of scotch eggs are all about quality and flavour and there are plenty of variations to the normal coating of sausage meat (I have successfully added black pudding to the mixture). Chorizo scotch eggs will make you question why you ever had eggs in any other way; surprisingly easy to make and the perfect picnic food combined with a paprika spiced potato and mint salad.

Za'atar is a heady Middle Eastern spice mixture of toasted sesame seeds, oregano, cumin and sumac (which adds a wonderful unusual citrus flavour). It can be used sprinkled on flat breads hot from the oven brushed with olive oil, over poached eggs with lentils or as a punch of flavour to grilled meats. For a simple summer supper I like to roast or BBQ chicken drumsticks and thighs and roll the hot meat in the dry rub and serve it alongside a simple shaved fennel salad with toasted pine nuts. It results in really electric bursts of flavour and textures.

These recipes are guaranteed to tickle your taste buds and prove big, bold flavourful dishes can be produced quickly without a lengthy ingredient list – even if you are just cooking for one!

Donal's new series 'Kitchen Hero: Rediscovering the Irish Kitchen' airs Tuesday's 8.30pm on RTE One. Also tune in to Donal's new YouTube channel for regular recipe videos.

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