Red Rice Salad with Avocado and Grilled Corn

I have a list. Well, I have many lists, but in particular, I have a list for which recipes to post and when.

All bloggers have a list like that, right??

Well, the problem I find is that I cook way, way, WAY more than I post. Now because of this, my precious list is in constant flux. Seasonal dishes have to move down the list, waiting for their time to come around again because I just didn’t get to them.

And for that, I blame the Internet.

There are just too many recipes out there to try, and when you throw in all the cookbooks, magazines and trying to recreate meals you’ve had at restraints, it becomes a hell of a feat to create the weekly menu. We’ve spoken about this before.
Red Rice Salad with Avocado and Grilled Corn

That’s exactly what happened this week. I was supposed to post a yummy, go-to lentil salad that actually makes lentils look pretty, but Yotam struck again with his weekly column in The Guardian and I just had to try this red rice salad with grilled corn and other goodies. And then, once I had tried it, I had to post it. Immediately.

It. Was. That. Good.
Red Rice Salad with Avocado and Grilled Corn

This red rice salad is nothing short of amazing. It is perfectly balanced in both flavour and texture, and is great both warm for dinner and cold the next day for lunch – if you are lucky enough to have leftovers. And the dressing… Just yum.

I’m sharing this salad with the happy revellers at Fiesta Friday #89 and this week’s co-hosts, Angie @The Novice Gardener, Mila @Milk and Bun and Kaila @GF Life 24/7. There will be extra dressing for all who link up to the party!

Red Rice Salad with Avocado and Grilled Corn

  • Servings: serves 4 to 6
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Red Rice Salad with Avocado and Grilled Corn

Ingredients

  • 150g Camargue red rice
  • 1 large red onion (peeled, quartered and the individual layers separated)
  • 1 tablespoon groundnut oil
  • Salt
  • 2 corn cobs (peeled if in husks, trimmed and cleaned)
  • 6-7 spring onions (trimmed)
  • 150g edamame beans (blanched for 30 seconds and drained)
  • 80g snow peas (cut diagonally)
  • 2 medium avocados (peeled and stoned just before serving, then cut into 2cm dice)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (toasted, to serve)
  • 15g coriander leaves (optional)
  • 1 lime (cut into wedges, to serve)

For the dressing

  • 1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ¾ teaspoon caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon flaked chilli
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
  • 3 tablespoon groundnut oil
  • ¾ teaspoon sesame oil

Method

  1. Fill a medium saucepan with plenty of water and place on a high heat. Once boiling, add the rice and cook for 25 minutes, until soft but still retaining a bite. Drain, refresh under cold water, set aside in a colander to dry, then transfer to a large bowl.
  2. While the rice is cooking, use a freestanding or hand-blender to blitz all the dressing ingredients with a quarter teaspoon of salt until smooth and thick, then set aside.
  3. Put a ridged griddle pan on a high heat and ventilate your kitchen. In a medium bowl, mix the onion with the oil and a quarter teaspoon of salt. When the pan starts to smoke, add the onion and cook for four minutes, turning over every 30 seconds, until the individual leaves are soft and charred all over, then transfer to the rice bowl.
  4. Lay the corn cobs on the griddle and cook for six minutes, turning them every minute or so, until charred on all sides. Remove from the heat and, once cool enough to handle, hold each cob upright on a board and use a sharp knife to shave off the kernels in clumps. Add these to the rice bowl.
  5. Lay the spring onions in the griddle and cook for six minutes, turning them over often, until charred and smoky all over. Remove from the heat, chop into 5cm-long pieces and add to the bowl.
  6. When you’re ready to serve, add the snow peas and avocados to the bowl, pour over the dressing and toss Serve in individual portions, sprinkling each with sesame seeds and picked coriander, if you like, with a lime wedge on the side.

Note: Yotam tosses the salad very gently; preferring to not have the ingredients completely evenly distributed. Apparently I need to work on this… Otherwise, toss the whole thing into one mixed salad and serve.

Recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s column in The Guardian.

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Roasted Sweet Potato and Fresh Fig Topped Spinach Tortillas

There’s no better way to celebrate another Meat Free Week than by posting a recipe by the men who made vegetables fashionable: Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

There is also no more arguing that autumn is now truly upon the other half of us. The weather has changed, the wind’s turned cool, which for the moment, is a lovely change to the sweltering and humid winds of the past season.

And with autumn comes the next wave of figs. Beautiful, sweet, slightly funky tasting figs.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Fresh Fig Salad

It truly is the fig’s presence in the Roasted Sweet Potato and Fresh Fig Salad that is served at Ottolenghi that ties the whole dish together. Oh, and the balsamic reduction. Notice it missing from the photo?? Trust me, you do not want to forget the glaze!

As I was serving this salad for dinner, and only this salad, I knew we’d need a little crunch, or should I say, a little carbs. For better or worse, I turned Yotam and Sami’s beautiful salad into a pizza/tortilla/wrap topping of sorts. But it worked! The crispiness of the spinach tortilla was a welcome texture on the plate. It also became a spoon to scoop up all the veggie goodness; and to mop up the sticky globs of balsamic reduction.

So, with only a few days left, go experiment with veggies and grains and enjoy Meat Free Week 2015.

And don’t forget to come and celebrate at Fiesta Friday’s new hangout that Angie @The Novice Gardener was so nice enough to create for us. Her co-hosts this week are Selma @Selma’s Table and Margy @La Petite Casserole so you know it’s going to be a great party.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Fresh Fig Topped Spinach Tortillas

  • Servings: Serves 4 to 6
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Roasted Sweet Potato and Fresh Fig Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 small sweet potatoes (1kg in total)
  • 75ml olive oil (divided)
  • Maldon sea salt and black pepper
  • 40ml balsamic vinegar
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 12 spring onions (halved lengthways, cut into 4cm segments)
  • 1 red chilli (thinly sliced)
  • 4 to 6 spinach tortillas
  • 6 fresh and ripe figs (240g in total, quartered)
  • 150g soft goat’s cheese (crumbled, optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 240°C.
  2. Wash the sweet potatoes, halve them lengthways and then cut each again similarly into 3 long wedges. Mix them with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons of salt and some black pepper.
  3. Spread the wedges out on a baking sheet, skin-side down, and cook for about 25 minutes until soft but not mushy. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool down to room temperature.
  4. Meanwhile, to make the balsamic reduction, place the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 2-4 minutes, or until it thickens. Be sure to remove the pan from the heat when the vinegar is still runnier than honey; it will continue to thicken as it cools. Stir in a drop of water before serving if it does become too thick to drizzle.
  5. Heat the remaining oil in a medium frying pan and add the green onions and chilli. Fry them over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, making sure not to burn the chilli, and then spoon the oil, onions and chilli over the sweet potatoes.
  6. On a medium heat, cook the tortillas on both sides until just crispy in the same frying pan used to cook the green onions and chilli. Set aside and cover with foil until ready to serve.
  7. Divide and arrange the sweet potato and chilli mixture on top of each tortilla. Dot the figs among the wedges and then drizzle over the balsamic reduction. Serve at room temperature with the cheese crumbled over, if using.

Recipe from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

Salad of Spiced Chickpeas and Puffed Rice for Meat Free Week

I have finally started using Instagram properly. I’ve now set it up so that I’m following my favourite people. This allows me to have a sticky beak into their latest adventures, to gawk at their beautiful photos and to save them for inspiration at some later date.

I’ve also been saving all of Nigel Slater’s latest instagrams. You see, he is currently travelling around Japan, and accompanying his gorgeous photos are some cleverly crafted little snippets that bring the pictures to life.

Salad of Spiced Chickpeas and Puffed Rice

I seem to be obsessed with photos lately, although I don’t think it’s helping much with my own photography skills. Or, you know, lack of patience… I don’t want to eat cold food…

This week is Meat Free Week, an event that encourages people think about not only how meat they eat, but where that meat comes from. And it just so happened that as I was admiring Mr Slater’s latest Instagram photos, his new column came out featuring the humble chickpea, a vegetarian staple, and with it, an amazing sounding salad.

Salad of Chickpea and Puffed Rice

So to kick off Meat Free Week 2015, I give you Mr Slater’s salad of spiced chickpeas and puffed rice. It’s meaty enough for all those omnivores participating in Meat Free Week, and it’s different enough with its contrasting textures and temperatures to inspire all vegetarians, pescatarians and vegans.

Salad of Spiced Chickpeas and Puffed Rice

  • Servings: Serves 4 as a side salad
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Salad of Spiced Chickpeas and Puffed Rice

Ingredients

  • 1 small pomegranate
  • 400g cucumber
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 50g almonds (whole and skinned)
  • 1 x 400g can chickpeas
  • 30g hemp seeds
  • 30g sunflower seeds
  • 30g unsweetened puffed rice
  • olive oil

Method

  1. Crack open the pomegranate and remove the seeds, putting them into a mixing bowl and discarding any white pith as you go. Peel the cucumber, lightly, leaving as much colour as you can, then cut in half lengthways. Scrape out the seeds and pith with a teaspoon and discard, then cut the flesh into small dice. Toss the cucumber and pomegranate together.
  2. Put the coriander and cumin seeds in a shallow pan and warm them over a gentle heat. Let them cook, moving them around the pan, until crisp and fragrant. Remove the pan from the heat and tip the toasted seeds into a mortar. Crush them to a fine powder.
  3. Warm the oil in the shallow pan, then, keeping the heat low, add the ground cumin and coriander, the garam masala and the curry powder, then the skinned almonds. Warm the nuts and spices, moving everything round the pan so it doesn’t burn.
  4. Drain the chickpeas and stir them into the spices and almonds, together with the hemp seeds, sunflowers seeds and puffed rice.
  5. Tip the warm chickpea mixture into the pomegranate and cucumber, add a trickle of olive oil, then toss gently together and serve.

Recipe by Nigel Slater as found on The Guardian.

Pomelo Noodle Salad

As I made this salad, my own internal voice kept cautioning me. And I kept picking up the pomelo and sniffing it, knowing it was a pomelo, but nervous about the very distinct grapefruit aroma that was coming from the skin. I also checked the medicine basket a few times, just to make sure that there were antihistamines in the house.

I love, love, love grapefruit, but unfortunately, grapefruit does not love me. It’s been a long time, but I still stop and sniff a grapefruit every now and then, look at it longingly and then glumly put it back, knowing I can’t eat it.

Pomelo Noodle Salad

The rest of the citrus family loves me, but pomelo, probably a very close cousin to the ruby red grapefruit, has that same, unique smell, which worried me a little. Obviously not enough to find a substitute or to make something else entirely… What was I supposed to do? I had a large, fresh pomelo and beautiful recipe from 101 Cookbooks to follow. It was all happening.

I adore this site by Heidi Swanson. She creates beautiful and wholesome foods and her photographs are striking, comforting and wistful. And I think the premise of her site resonates with most of us: ‘When you own over 100 cookbooks, it is time to stop buying, and start cooking’.

It’s a charming website, and I encourage you all to take a look while I go and help myself to more ponzu-flavoured noodles topped with pomelo, edamame and peanuts.

Shared with the Fiesta Friday #60 partiers hosted by Angie @The Novice GardenerTracy @Scratch It Cook and Nancy @Feasting With Friends.

Pomelo Noodle Salad

  • Servings: Serves 4 to 6
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Pomelo Noodle Salad

Ingredients

  • 170g dried somen or soba noodles
  • 220g shelled edamame
  • 2 big handfuls salad or micro greens
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • a few tablespoons of ponzu sauce (to taste)*
  • 2/3 cup toasted peanuts
  • ½ a medium pomelo (segmented)
  • Garlic or chive flowers, or chopped chives to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, salt well, and cook the noodles as per the package instructions. When the noodles are almost ready, add the edamame, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat, drain, rinse well with cold water to stop the cooking, and shake off as much residual water as possible.
  3. Transfer the noodles and edamame to a large serving bowl along with the salad greens. Add the toasted sesame oil and ponzu sauce and toss well to coat. Be generous, but careful with the ponzu sauce as the noodles really absorb the sauce. Finish with the peanuts and pomelo segments.
  4. Taste, and take a bit of time to really consider if any adjustments should be made – more sauce, more sesame oil, etc. Top with garlic or chive flower, or chopped chives and serve.

Recipe by Heidi Swanson from 101 Cookbooks.

* Ponzu sauce is a citrus-based soy sauce used a lot in Japanese cuisine.

Corn Salad with Buffalo Mozzarella

The weather is starting to cool.

And with that comes the end of summer produce. Tomatoes are sweeter, corn cobs are juicier and zucchini is absolutely everywhere.

Corn and Mozzarella Salad

The afternoons are still very warm and long, but unlike the last few weeks, it was actually pleasant to be preparing this salad whilst the late summer sun streamed through my kitchen window.

This salad is fresh, sweet, a little tangy, a little crunchy, and very decadent with roughly-torn pieces of buffalo mozzarella scattered across the top. As long as you’ve got fresh corn cobs that you can scorch on a griddle or a barbecue, you can enjoy it during any season.

Corn Salad with Buffalo Mozzarella

Corn and Mozzarella Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra to grill corn and drizzle
  • 3 corn cobs (shucked)
  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers (thinly sliced)
  • 3 tablespoons pedro ximenez vinegar, or any other kind of sherry vinegar
  • ½ cup coriander leaves (roughly chopped)
  • 4 tablespoons natural yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped almonds
  • 4 pickled onions (thinly sliced)
  • 2 buffalo mozzarella balls

Method

  1. Heat the griddle or barbecue, rub a little oil over the corn cobs and grill for about 10 minutes, until the kernels have some colour.
  2. Once cool enough to handle, slice the kernels off the cobs and combine in a bowl with the cucumber.
  3. Mix the vinegar with the remaining oil and then pour over the corn and cucumber and toss well. Mix in the coriander, leaving a little to garnish, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. To serve, spoon a couple of dobs of yoghurt on each plate. Spoon on the corn and cucumber mix over the plate, then top with almonds and pickled onion. Break the mozzarella into a few pieces and add to the salad. Sprinkle the remaining herbs over and some more olive oil. Season with a little salt and cracked pepper.

Recipe by Frank Camorra  as found on the Good Food website.

Celeriac Remoulade – Chunky Condiment or Side Salad?

It’s been about two years now since my sister and I realised how easy it is to make celeriac remoulade, and it’s become quite a common side and even ‘salad’ in both our households.

I’ve certainly come a long way since my first disastrous attempt – twists and variations are generally easier to incorporate once the foundations of a recipe are well-established.

Celeriac Remoulade

One day, I will add shredded beetroot to the remoulade and the whole thing will NOT turn pink.

Now until that day, I will enjoy this odd-looking root’s most well-known dish, usually as a salad or side to seafood recipes, and I will do so using Nigel Slater’s recipe for classing French celeriac remoulade.

Celeriac Remoulade

  • Servings: Serves 4 as a side salad
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Celeriac Remoulade

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized celeriac (approximately 450g)
  • Half a lemon
  • 4 heaped tablespoons good mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons smooth Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (finely chopped, optional)
  • Salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Juice half a lemon into a bowl and keep on hand.
  2. Peel and then shred the celeriac using a food processor or a large-hole grater. The strips should not be too fine, nor should they be thicker than a matchstick.
  3. Immediately add the celeriac strips into the lemon juice and toss to coat, which will both prevent the celeriac from browning and help to tenderise the root strips. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, crème fraîche and parsley, if using. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Strain any excess lemon juice from the shredded celeriac and discard. Add half of the mayonnaise mixture to the drained celeriac and stir gently to combine. Keep adding spoonfuls of the mayonnaise mixture until there is enough dressing to cling to the roots evenly without the mixture becoming soupy.
  6. Set aside for up to 30 minutes and then serve with salmon, fishcakes, ham or toast.

Note: Unless you are after celeriac clag, it is not advisable that you keep celeriac remoulade overnight.

Recipe by Nigel Slater from The Guardian.

Tuscan Bread Salad – Panzanella Jamie Style

I don’t do soggy food.

So croutons have always posed a bit of a dilemma for me… I like them, they’re crunchy and usually flavoured very nicely. However, I tend to push the mushy mess they become to the side of my plate when they are presented to me in a salad.

Except for my sister’s caesar salad… I know for a fact that she adds them in at the last second!

And croutons in soup? I’m sorry, but no. Dipping fresh or toasted bread into soup is perfectly fine and acceptable; in fact, it’s almost mandatory. Presenting me with a large crouton that has been sitting in my soup and is turning beautiful fluffy bread into a glue-like consistency? Just no.

Therefore, it was quite justifiable that I was a little hesitant in trying out a Tuscan bread salad, or panzanella.

Yes, I toasted the croutons a tad too long to make surethat they were nice and crispy. Yes, I waited until all the other salad ingredients were mixed and ready to go before I added them.

And you know what? The world didn’t end! Well, only because I ate my salad first so that my croutons wouldn’t go soggy…

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This is a Jamie Oliver recipe, with a few tweaks and omissions here and there (mainly less oil and no anchovies). Interestingly, he seems to have a different method for this salad in Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals, Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals and on Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals TV Show. Oh, it’s different online too! I stumbled across the episode on YouTube while I was looking for something else before I realised my sister had bought me the book. So I made it using bits and pieces of information from a couple of different versions.

Ingredients

  • 200g ciabatta (or any other country-style bread)
  • 600g vine-ripened cherry tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes (roughly chopped)
  • 200g roasted peppers (freshly roasted or from a jar; roughly chopped)
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary (or 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary)
  • 1 small bunch of fresh basil (leaves picked; chopped or left whole)
  • 1 clove of garlic (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese to serve (grated)

Method

  1. Preheat the grill.
  2. Tear the ciabatta into thumb-sized pieces. Put the croutons into a roasting tray and drizzle with oil. Add the rosemary sprigs and some sea salt. Mix to combine, making sure the bread is coated.
  3. Place the roasting tray under the grill to toast the croutons for about ten minutes or until golden, but watch them carefully as they can burn very quickly.
  4. Once golden and crisp, empty the croutons into a bowl and set them aside to cool slightly.
  5. Meanwhile, put the chopped tomatoes and peppers in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the croutons, basil, red wine vinegar and olive oil. Toss to combine. Taste and season accordingly with additional salt, vinegar or oil.
  6. Add some grated parmesan over the top, add a few extra basil leaves for garnish and serve quickly to avoid soggy croutons.

Fried Goat’s Cheese and Fig Salad with Raspberry Balsamic Glaze

This salad’s been on the backburner for a while now, but I found some lovely fresh figs yesterday at a new deli that opened up near me.

Then I spent a nice long time perusing the deli’s shelves for any manner of new cheeses, oils, dressings, I could go on and on here… I know it’s important to support local business and farmers and such, but when your local industry is just not producing what you want, you have to buy imported.

I’ve been looking for raspberry balsamic glaze for quite a while now, so when I managed to find it, imported of course, along with the figs, I skipped straight to the cheese section for some goat’s cheese.

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And seeing as how there’s a few days left in July, which is soft goat’s cheese month according to Fromage Homage, I’m going to submit this to the Cheese Please! recipe blog challenge.

Fromage Homage

Fried Goat’s Cheese and Fig Salad with Raspberry Balsamic Glaze

Ingredients

  • 150g soft goat’s cheese
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 150g baby spinach (or rocket)
  • 4 figs (fresh, stems cut off, cut into quarters)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons raspberry balsamic glaze*
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying

Method

  1. Set up three bowls, one containing the flour, another the egg and a third with the panko breadcrumbs.
  2. Using a sharp knife that’s been lightly greased with oil, cut the goat’s cheese into 12 segments.
  3. Roll each segment into a ball and then flatten gently.
  4. Working with one piece of cheese at a time, coat the cheese in the flour, dip in the egg and then cover with the panko breadcrumbs.
  5. Place the prepared cheese pieces on a plate or sheet pan and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  6. While the cheese is chilling, toss the baby spinach or rocket with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Divide among two bowls and top with the fresh figs.
  7. Fill a heavy-based frying pan with enough vegetable oil to fry the cheese pieces and heat over medium heat (the oil should be ready when a few panko breadcrumbs sizzle and turn golden in 10 seconds).
  8. Working in two to three batches, add the crumbed cheese to oil and fry for approximately two minutes on each side, or until golden. Remove cooked cheese with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  9. Top the salad with the fried goat’s cheese, drizzle with the raspberry balsamic glaze and serve.

* If you can’t find raspberry balsamic glaze, you can make your own balsamic glaze. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons of sugar (both brown and white sugar work well). Stir for about 3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves and has become syrupy. Allow to cool before adding it to the salad.

Haloumi and Chickpea Salad with Za’atar Tahini Dressing – Squeaky Cheese Salad done Two Ways: Part Two

So, following on from my Haloumi Garden Salad post, here is the new and improved squeaky cheese salad.

New, yes.

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

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Salad Ingredients

  • 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

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°c.
  2. 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.
  3. Place the pita breads on a sheet pan.
  4. 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.
  5. Place in the oven for five to seven minutes.
  6. 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.
  7. Heat the lemon oil in a small heavy-based frying pan over medium-low heat.
  8. Add the haloumi strips.
  9. 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.
  10. In a large salad bowl, combine spinach, tomatoes and chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Add the dressing and toss gently to coat.
  12. 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.
  13. Take the pita breads out of the oven and allow to cool.
  14. Remove the cooked haloumi from the pan and drain on a paper towel.
  15. Break each pita round into pieces and then crumble into the salad.
  16. 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.

Haloumi Garden Salad – Squeaky Cheese Salad done Two Ways: Part One

I used to baby sit my littlest niece a couple of days a week while I was studying at uni. So I was kind of an expert in little kid speak; but then one day, she stumped me.

She told me she wanted squeaky cheese.

Ah… what??

Squeaky cheese? She nodded her little head emphatically. Yep, she wanted squeaky cheese, whatever the hell that was.

So I picked her up, opened the fridge, and asked her to find the squeaky cheese for me. Like the little monkey she was she scooted higher and stuck her head in the fridge, coming back out with a block of haloumi.

That’s when it clicked. The high salt content in haloumi actually makes the cheese squeak as you chew, hence, squeaky cheese!

Haloumi is a half goat-half sheep’s milk cheese with a higher than normal saltiness usually found in other semi-soft cheeses. It apparently originated in Cypress but there are many variations across the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Haloumi also has quite a high melting point, making it perfect for frying and grilling, aka saganaki.

So that’s what I did. I grilled some ‘squeaky cheese’ for my little niece and she quite happily munched away, giggling every time she chewed a bite, whilst watching Bananas in Pyjamas.

But what do you do when the four year old in question refuses to eat anything else but squeaky cheese?

You cut up the haloumi and you hide it in a salad, creating what will forever be known as squeaky cheese salad!

This is quite a fresh salad, despite the saltiness of the haloumi. It is also deceptively filling and is great as a light dinner.

Haloumi Garden Salad

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Serves 2 as a light meal and 4 as a side salad

Ingredients

  • 180g haloumi* (sliced into eight strips)
  • 250g baby spinach
  • 250g cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
  • ½ a cucumber (cut into quarters)
  • 1 avocado (chopped)
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons lemon oil**

Method

  1. Heat the lemon oil in a small heavy-based frying pan over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the haloumi strips.
  3. While the haloumi is cooking, place the baby spinach in a salad bowl and cover with the balsamic vinegar. Toss to coat.
  4. 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 then need to be turned.
  5. Add the cherry tomatoes, cucumber and avocado to the baby spinach. Mix gently.
  6. Remove the haloumi strips when they are golden brown on both sides and place them on some paper towels to drain the excess oil.
  7. Divide the salad amongst the bowls. Top with haloumi strips. Serve while the cheese is still warm.

* There is also a chilli haloumi available, which adds a lovely heat to salad.

** If you don’t have or cannot find 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.

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