I have a new favourite winter salad, and it’s all about the cheese.
Halloumi is one of my favourite cheeses — it’s a semi-hard brined cheese, super salty, and squeaky between your teeth (like cheese curds!). It has a fantastic quality for cooking: when you heat it, it doesn’t melt — so you can grill or fry it and it will maintain its shape! Halloumi is traditionally made from a combination of sheep’s & goat’s milk (and sometimes cow’s milk), and is unripened — stored in brine it will last (without ripening further) for up to a year.
My local grocery stores carry Halloumi, but if yours don’t have it, I’ve also seen it at cheese shops and Greek or European specialty food shops. If you have to go out of your way to find it, grab a couple of packages, as it will keep well in its brine in your fridge.
I fell in love with Halloumi at my favourite Middle Eastern restaurant: Tabule (2009 Yonge Street, Toronto), where you can enjoy an appetizer of fried Halloumi, or a salad of fried Halloumi over arugula in a lemon dressing. We love fried Halloumi as a snack, and David Lebovitz’s post about Fried Halloumi is a mouth-watering read (and a great recipe)!
I’ve put together this salad loaded with nutritious foods (arugula! beets! hemp seeds! pumpkin seeds!) so that you can have fried cheese as a main course. The Lemony Dressing works so well to cut through the fat and brighten up the salad, so while it is filling it doesn’t weigh you down.
I top the salad with ruby-coloured pickled beets. You can easily make your own (this Alton Brown recipe looks divine, as does this one from The Spice House), but I am totally addicted to the ones I can order along with my veggie box from Sunshine Farms.
A cautionary tale of Halloumi — When you fry your Halloumi, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on it. It can go really quickly from uncooked and white to charcoal Halloumi briquettes. We ended up eating one outtakes-worthy batch of Halloumi salad — still delicious, but like Halloumi croutons, without the squeaky enjoyment of properly cooked Halloumi:
Halloumi, Pickled Beet & Arugula Salad
This has quickly become my go-to winter salad. It’s filling, and the squeaky Halloumi cheese makes you feel like you’re having a treat, while the lemony dressing keeps the flavours light and bright. Serves 2 as a main course.
- 1 bunch (4 oz / 113 g) arugula leaves
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 1 apple, diced
- 3 Tablespoons shelled hemp seeds
- 3 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 package (8 oz / 225 g) Halloumi cheese, drained and cut into 2cm (3/4″) cubes
- 1 teaspoon aleppo pepper or dried red chili flakes
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 batch Lemony Dressing (see recipe below)
- 1/4 cup pickled beets
- cracked black pepper
In a large salad bowl, combine arugula, bell pepper, apple, hemp seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
In a large skillet (preferably cast iron or non-stick), heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the Halloumi cubes and cook over medium-high heat without stirring until golden brown on one side. Flip with a spatula and lightly brown the other side. Turn out into a bowl and toss with the aleppo pepper (or chili flakes) and set aside.
Pour your Lemony Dressing into the salad bowl, and toss the salad to coat with the dressing. Serve in bowls, topped with the pickled beets, fried Halloumi, and freshly cracked black pepper. Eat and enjoy!
- the juice & zest of 1 lemon
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Add all ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until emulsified into a smooth dressing.
In other gluten-free news: Registration for my online Gluten-Free (and Vegan!) Bread Baking Class is now open for a limited time! Once you sign up, you get permanent access to the online video course.
The class features 4 gluten-free breads:
1) Chickpea Chapati (great for curries)
2) Multigrain Pita Bread (perfect for hummus and spreads)
3) Brown Rice & Buckwheat Sandwich Loaf (awesome for sandwiches)
4) Artisanal Quinoa & Millet Crusty Boule (great for dinner parties)
There are also dips and tips for working with gluten-free grains, as well as a whole lot of giggles.