Let me tell you what led me to the discovery of my new favorite food: lentil salad with roasted veggies and fried cheese. What’s that? A salad with fried cheese on top? Health meets decadence? Virtue meets indulgence?
YES to all of this.
It started when I had exactly 5 minutes to run through the grocery store, with my whole family waiting out in the car, for a quick stop to ‘pick up a few things’ (have you ever been in that situation? My heart pounded thinking about what will happen if they go rogue on my husband). When I walked by the cheese case and saw Halloumi cheese, ‘great for grilling!’ I grabbed it to possibly throw on the grill with our other food without much thought because *rogue children*.
And then I forgot about it.
Days later when I found it in the cheese drawer, I googled recipes to use it up and found one that fried it with honey. I had to try it.
You’ll find out pretty quickly as you assemble this dish that every single ingredient is delicious on its own and you’ll have to stop yourself from eating it. Roasted broccoli and cauliflower? So good.
Lemony garlic lentils cooked with a bay leaf and vegetable stock? Love.
And the final touch that is really more of a religious experience then salad topping: fried Halloumi cheese that is tossed in honey at the end so it becomes caramelized.
If you haven’t cooked with Halloumi before, it is a Greek hard cheese that is sort of like a cross between Manchego and Feta. It is great for grilling, and these recipes by Bobby Flay and the NYTimes both look excellent.
But this recipe, which is adapted from one by Jamie Oliver, opens up a whole new world for me: frying your cheese and finishing it with honey. The sweet-salty bite is one of those tastes that make you want to keep coming back for another taste.
This dish composes so many elements – salty cheese, sweet honey, crunchy nuts, toothsome lentils, bitter roasted veggies, sour lemon and pungent garlic to make everything else sing. The dressing poured over the hot lentils infuses so much flavor.
Its truly like nothing I’ve ever eaten before.
It’s also a great dish to bring to a party, since you can cook all the different parts ahead of time, and set aside, then assemble all the ingredients before you go. Or just make it for yourself on a Monday night.
Hope you find a way to bring this into your life – you will thank me!
Lemony Lentil Salad with Roasted Veggies and Fried Halloumi Cheese (printer version here):
4 cups broccoli and cauliflower (I used orange cauliflower)
4 cloves of garlic
1 cup lentils
1 litre organic vegetable stock
1 fresh bay leaf
extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup walnuts or sliced almonds
1 large bunch of mixed soft herbs (parsley, mint, chervil)
250 g halloumi cheese (about a cup)
2 tablespoons runny honey
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Cut the broccoli and cauliflower into even-sized florets, then spread out in a single layer in a roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt & black pepper.
Toss in the unpeeled cloves of garlic, then spread everything out in the tray and pop in the oven. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the veg is cooked through and charred on the outside.
Pop the lentils in a medium-sized pan, pour over the hot stock and add the bay leaf. Gently bring to the boil over a medium heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until they’re cooked but still retain some bite. Drain and set aside.
Make the dressing by squeezing the garlic out of its skin into a bowl. Mash until creamy, then squeeze in the lemon juice and season. Whisk to combine, then add a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
Toast the walnuts or almonds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat. Pick and chop the herb leaves, then toss with the walnuts and set aside.
Toss the hot lentils through the garlic dressing, followed by the roasted veggies, herbs and nuts.
Pour a lug of olive oil into a medium-sized, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Chop and fry the halloumi until it’s golden.
Drizzle over the honey and fry for 1 more minute, until sticky and caramelized. Scatter the halloumi over the salad and serve immediately.