Fennel and Courgette Salad with Halloumi
The first time I ate halloumi was at my brother’s Godmother’s house in our little Essex village of Colne Engaine. It was one of those perfect summer afternoons when the smell of warm grass hangs thick in the air and the sun gently prickles your arms.
Sitting in the back garden we filled our plates with salads and this strange fried cheese – it was, after all, the eighties and anything other than a robust supermarket cheddar was an exotic delicacy. I remember savouring every mouthful of the firm squeaky cheese and even now I am transported back to that day whenever I eat halloumi.
This recipe is an homage to that English summer’s day but also to vegetarian food more generally. I love the light freshness of this salad, with its slight nuttiness and crunchy sweetness. Together with the salty fried cheese it could quite possibly be my favourite way to welcome in the summer months.
See this dish as part of a MEAL PLAN
Prep time: 15 minutes
250g block of Halloumi cheese
1/2 fennel bulb
1 small green courgette
1 small white courgette
2 spring onions
A handful of fresh mint
A handful of alfalfa sprouts (optional)
1/2 cup frozen edamame beans*
salt and pepper
olive oil for frying
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small clove garlic
*Edamame beans are soy beans and are readily available in most Chinese supermarkets in the freezer section. You can also buy them in their pods – these are fabulous – simply cook them for a couple of minutes in boiling salty water and serve.
To make the dressing simply crush one small clove of garlic in a mortar and pestle with a little salt, before adding in the lemon and olive oil and mixing well.
For the salad, thinly slice the fennel, spring onions, mint and half of both courgettes and place in a large serving bowl with the alfalfa sprouts.
In a griddle pan place the other half of the courgettes (sliced) and cook until deep char marks appear on both sides (5 mins). Brush lightly with a small amount of olive oil when you turn the slices over.
Meanwhile, cook the edamame beans in boiling salted water for 2 minutes.
To cook the halloumi, take a heavy based frying pan and heat over a medium-high heat with a decent slug of olive oil. Once hot, place the strips (I cut a 250g block into 6 equal batons) in the pan and cook until each strip has a deep golden colour on every side (5 minutes).
Combine all ingredients, dress, season and serve immediately.
Be careful not to over salt the dish as halloumi is intrinsically salty.
Instead of edamame use broad beans or peas.
Add shredded smoked chicken breast to bulk the meal out
A cold glass of Riesling is the perfect accompaniment
Warm crusty baguette with cold slabs of unsalted butter