So, following on from my Haloumi Garden Salad post, here is the new and improved squeaky cheese salad.
Improved, well, that depends on your taste preferences.
There’s a lot more going on in this version, and the haloumi is more of an ingredient than the star of the salad. It has a very different spice palette happening, with the za’atar and the tahini, and it’s a lot heavier, so it’s great as a main meal salad.
I personally like both salads. My niece, who is the princess of squeaky cheese salads, prefers the original.
You be the judge.
Haloumi and Chickpea Salad with Za’atar Tahini Dressing
- 250g spinach
- 4 vine-ripened tomatoes (cut into quarters)
- 200g dried chickpeas (soaked overnight and cooked until tender) or 400g can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
- 180g haloumi (sliced into eight strips)
- 4 tablespoons lemon oil*
Salad Dressing Ingredients
- 1/3 cup tahini (well stirred)**
- 1 teaspoon za’atar spice mix***
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 cloves of garlic (minced)
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- pinch of salt
Za’atar Pita Chips Ingredients
- 2 pita bread rounds
- 1 garlic clove (minced)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 teaspoons za’atar spice mix
- Preheat oven to 180°c.
- Heat oil and minced garlic gently in small saucepan over low heat. Do not allow the oil to reach a simmer. Take off the heat and allow to stand for five minutes.
- Place the pita breads on a sheet pan.
- Using a pastry brush, spread half the warm garlic oil on both pita rounds. Top each round with a teaspoon of the za’atar spice mix.
- Place in the oven for five to seven minutes.
- In the meantime, add the tahini, za’atar spice mix, water, orange and lemon juices, garlic, sugar and salt into a blender. Pulse until smooth. If needed, water can be added to thin out the dressing, one tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.
- Heat the lemon oil in a small heavy-based frying pan over medium-low heat.
- Add the haloumi strips.
- Pull the pita bread out of the over. Flip them over and add the remaining oil and za’atar spice mix. Place them back in the over for another five to seven minutes.
- In a large salad bowl, combine spinach, tomatoes and chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the dressing and toss gently to coat.
- Check the haloumi. If the strips have become golden brown on one side, flip them over and cook the other side. If not, continue to watch the strips carefully until they need to be turned.
- Take the pita breads out of the oven and allow to cool.
- Remove the cooked haloumi from the pan and drain on a paper towel.
- Break each pita round into pieces and then crumble into the salad.
- Top with haloumi and serve while the cheese is still warm.
* If you don’t have or cannot fin lemon oil, you can use extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil. If lemon oil is not used, squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the haloumi as it drains. You could always make lemon oil – add the zest of one large lemon to one cup of olive oil. Heat in a small saucepan over medium heat for ten minutes, but do not allow the oil to reach a simmer. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain the lemon zest from the oil and store the lemon-infused oil in a clean jar in a cool and dark place.
** Unhulled tahini is less bitter and better suited for salad dressings.
*** Za’atar is a middle eastern spice blend. Visit my Za’atar-Spiced Popcorn post for a list of ingredients and how to make it.