#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 15°C Saturday 28 May 2022

Sunshine on a plate: Delicious dinners to brighten your day no matter the weather

Whether you’re feeling sunny already, or looking to escape grey skies – there’s inspiration here.

Image: GastroGays

DON’T SPEAK TOO soon when the sun decides to shine: All too often that glimpse of balmy sunshine that arrives in the blink of an eye departs as quickly as it came.

The thing about our incredibly uncooperative weather is that no matter what the sky is like, we can still have sunshine in the kitchen. Inspired by the seemingly ever-balmy coastal countries of Portugal and Greece, here are a pair of recipes to ensure you’re feeling the heat whenever you want.

Peri-Peri Chicken

Serves 4

We’ve been to Lisbon a couple of times and there’s a place down a side street around Restauradores in the Portuguese capital called Bonjardim. This casual, absolutely-no-frills grill restaurant is one of the most delicious places we’ve ever dined in.

Some would argue that this is the more authentic precursor to another very famous peri-peri chicken chain, and we can see why this should be replicated – because we’ve done it ourselves. Forget finger-lickin’ – wait ’til you try this!


  • 1 whole free-range or organic chicken, jointed
  • 1 large clove garlic, blanched then sliced
  • 6 red chillies
  • 5 onions, finely diced
  • 1 lemon, zest (reserve to squeeze later)
  • 1 tsp coarse salt flakes
  • ½ tsp dried herbs
  • ½ tbsp sweet paprika
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 50ml apple cider/red or white wine vinegar
  • Shoestring fries (optional, on the side)



Preheat oven to 180ºC. Place the chillies on a baking tray and roast for about 12-15 minutes. This will soften them and intensify their flavour. If you fancy a spicier mixture, up the quantity to 9, or throw in one or two small bird’s eye chillies to the mix too.

Blanching the garlic softens the flavour, making it milder and less intense. Drop the clove in a little boiling water for about 2-3 minutes, strain the water, then run under cold water for a few moments. Alternatively, you can microwave the cloves in a bowl of for 2 to 3 minutes, until they’re warm but not cooked through.

When the chillis have cooled, cut them into slices. Heat a tiny drop of oil in a saucepan on medium and add the onions, allowing them to soften – this should take about 90 seconds or so. Then add in the garlic, the chillies, the lemon zest, the salt flakes, the herbs and spices, the remaining oil and red wine vinegar. Fairly instantly, it will start to bubble and simmer. Allow it to do so for about 2-3 minutes, constantly stirring everything together.

Remove from the heat. Blitz the mixture with a hand blender. You want a chunky sauce, kind of like a pesto consistency. You can leave this, covered, for a couple of days in the fridge. If using now, since it’s hot, you should allow it to cool completely before using it to marinade the chicken.

Joint your chicken and place all your pieces in a large ziplock bag and cover with two-thirds of the sauce. Reserve the other third. Almost seal it over, while massaging the mixture to ensure it’s coating all pieces. Then seal and leave in the fridge for at least an hour. The longer you leave it, the more intense the flavour, so you can absolutely do this the night before.

When it’s time to cook, remove from the fridge to allow the chicken to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Drizzle a drop of oil on a large frying pan or skillet. If you happen to have a griddle pan, don’t use any oil, but still preheat. Seal the chicken for about 2 minutes on each side, cooking skin side down where possible. Avoid moving or touching the meat as it’s sealing if you’re trying to achieve a crispy skin. We prefer when the chicken gets blackened a bit, because it adds ample flavour.

Cook in batches if need be and when complete, place all on a baking tray. Deglaze the pan once you’re finished with a drop of red wine vinegar or water, stirring off any stuck-on pieces of the sauce. Pour over any remnants onto the chicken. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes further, before removing and brushing with the reserved peri peri sauce. Return to the oven for 10 more minutes.

Serve with shoestring fries for the full Bonjardim effect!

Baked Feta

Serves four as a side

This Greek-inspired dish is incredible. Incredible in its flavour but more incredible in its simplicity. Trust us, once you bake feta you won’t go back because the alchemy that the oven provides here is wonderful – it’s a completely different texture and taste experience than your usual feta from the fridge.

With the juicy roasted tomatoes, sharp black olives and the soft red onions alongside the ample herbs, this is a recipe we guarantee you’ll find excuses to make again, and again.


  • 1 pack of feta cheese, drained
  • 1 small red onion, skin removed, halved and cut into thin crescents
  • 8-10 black olives (optional – halved)
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2-3 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • Fresh oregano
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dressed side salad (optional)


Line a small baking dish with greaseproof paper or foil and place the feta in the centre, surrounded by the onions, the cherry tomatoes and the fresh oregano.

Sprinkle the dried herbs liberally across the cheese and then drizzle everything with olive oil and bake in an oven set to 190ºC for 10-15 minutes.

When the feta is soft and the onions and tomatoes are soft, take out and strew some black olives around the cheese as well as some fresh basil leaves.

 Season everything really well and add another generous glug of olive oil over everything, and serve. This could be bulked out with some couscous and a side salad to make a beautiful vegetarian main, or just served on its own as a side dish.

More: ‘Burger juice dribbling down your wrists’: The ultimate guide to making amazing burgers at home>

About the author:

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel