So I’ve arrived! After nearly four hours of nose to tail in searing temperatures on Dante’s inner infernal circle also-known-as the M25 I’ve managed to escape out west for heavenly week at Filly Island*.

I’m accompanied by two red gem lettuces, a lemon, and a knobbly, baby flavourful Lebanese cucumber…all about as wilted as I.  I also have a rather sweating bag of parmesan. All (excluding me) are panting to be used up. And, of course, I never travel without a bottle of my beloved Fumo (‘naturally smoked with wood’) olive oil in beautiful ceramic bottles from Muraglia.

Mouse has thoughtfully left a jar of mayonnaise and some cracked black pepper at Filly Island. She’s also asked if I’d water her plants, which include a billowing pot of mint, so I feel entitled to cut the odd sprig as ‘pay’ (although I’m a bit concerned that my famous brown fingers might not justify my earnings).

What then, quickly, to put together for salad.

The answer is to add some cooked chicken from the Co-op in the High Street, thus making a kind of nearly-Caesar-salad, but any leftover chicken you happen to have would do well.

It turned out to be surprisingly good. Here’s how to do it.


Recipe for a chicken salad for cheats with lovely lemony mayo dressing


For two


  • 130-150g/6 oz flame-grilled ready-cooked chicken – or some left over from a roast
  • 1 red gem…or baby gem
  • 1 small, knobbly Lebanese cucumber
  • A generous 80ml/⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 30g/4 tbsps/¼ cup grated Parmesan
  • Sprig of mint
  • 2 tbsps good quality olive oil – I love the smoked Fumo from Muraglia
  • Salt and pepper – cracked or freshly ground
  • 3-4 tsps of lemon or lime juice…plus any zest you can get hold of


  1. Mix the mayonnaise with a pinch of salt (I use smoked) and the lemon juice – stir in as you add, and taste, you don’t need that much.
  2. Arrange a few leaves of the baby gem on each plate.
  3. Break the chicken into pieces if you need to, and share out on top of the leaves.
  4. Slice the cucumber and distribute artistically between the two plates on top of the chicken.
  5. Snip a little mint over the cucumber.
  6. Drizzle the olive oil over the chicken.
  7. Sprinkle over first the parmesan and then the cracked pepper.
  8. Serve with the mayonnaise.


*you can rent Filly Island – a tiny gem in the Cotswolds bursting with eclectic touches – through Unique Home Stays.

chicken salad recipe