Spring is here! To me, it’s time for salad: there’s nothing better than fresh, crunchy veggies after months of eating carbs, meat, soup and cheese.
But let’s face it – any time of year is perfect for cheese, and my favorite salads often include it as a bit of a cheat. Paired with the powerhouse veggies in this salad, you’ll make your mom proud and feed any lingering cheese addiction without too much guilt.
Have I mentioned halloumi is one of my favorite cheeses? If you’ve never tried it – make this salad, now! But don’t blame me when you start putting halloumi on everything in sight.
GRILLED HALLOUMI, SPINACH & TOASTED SEED SALAD (via Jamie Oliver)
1 handful sunflower or pumpkin seeds
2 carrots, peeled
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and halved
2 large handfuls baby spinach leaves, washed and spun dry
100g fresh peas, podded
250g halloumi cheese, cut into 1cm slices
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Toast the seeds in a dry pan over a high heat, moving them around the pan from time to time so they don’t burn. This will only take a couple of minutes. Put to one side. Using a speed peeler, cut the carrots and the fennel bulb into thin ribbons. Place in a bowl with the spinach and peas.
Place your halloumi in a really hot frying or griddle pan, and give the slices a minute or so on each side. The cheese will soften slightly as it cooks. Dress your salad with a good squeeze of lemon juice, about twice as much olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to coat everything in the dressing. Have a taste and add some more seasoning or lemon juice if you like.
To serve, tear the pieces of halloumi over the salad and sprinkle with the toasted seeds.
This simple recipe from Jamie Oliver lends itself well to adaptation – you could substitute nuts for seeds, swap fennel for celery, and add a few other odds and ends you might have in the fridge to really pump it up. This salad is super quick to throw together on a Monday night, but is special and tasty enough to bring along to a weekend picnic in the park, too. The spinach holds up well against the olive oil and lemon dressing, so won’t arrive wilted were it made with mixed leafy greens.
I love the contrast between the punchy fennel and the salty, gooey halloumi here. The toasted seeds add a wonderful nuttiness against the acidity of the lemony dressing. You won’t go away hungry with this one, as it’s perfect for a time of transition when your appetite might still be on the wintry side.
The colors here are gorgeous: orange carrots, opaque fennel, and the contrasting greens of fresh garden peas, soft baby spinach, and earthy pumpkin seeds. Your carb-fed body will be transformed and you won’t have to lie when your mom inevitably asks: “Have you been eating well?”
Amanda Gallant is a twenty-something Yank, part-time desk worker, part-time creative living in the UK. Every two weeks, Amanda will cook and write about fresh, simple and inexpensive recipes (which is good, as Jess and Rachel barely know enough about food to keep themselves alive). Photos by Amanda Gallant