Halloumi and Quinoa Salad

Hi, my name is Karen. I work in the NY Casting Networks office in client relations. Some days the weather is really bad. It’s cold and rainy and everything’s going wrong. But it’s on those days that I give thanks that I am blessed to be neither lactose nor gluten intolerant, so I can partake in nature’s greatest gift: the grilled cheese sandwich. Of course, not everyone is so lucky, as a good friend of mine discovered while eating my famous Tomato Cobbler (like peach cobbler but with cherry tomatoes and blue cheese biscuits!). She went home doubled over in stomach pain and was diagnosed as celiac later that week. It was in the search for alternatives that I came across the greatest of all cheeses: Halloumi. Popular in Greece and the Middle East, halloumi is a firm cheese made with a mix of sheep and goat’s milk. Its higher than average melting point means that it can be placed directly on the grill, allowing for that same crisp but melty sensation you get in the best of grilled cheese sandwiches. I regularly bring it to BBQs as a meat alternative, but it can also be used to add some indulgence to an otherwise healthy salad, as in the recipe below…

Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • 3 cups lettuce leaves
  • 8 ounces halloumi cheese (cut into 8 slices)

Directions

  1. Whisk together the first six ingredients. Toss in the cucumber and scallions and let stand while preparing the rest of the recipe.
  2. Put quinoa and well salted water into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Let cool.
  3. Whisk together olive oil and lemon juice. Add quinoa, parsley, mint and lettuce. Toss to coat.
  4. Heat grill pan or skillet (no oil necessary) and grill halloumi until golden brown, two minutes each side.
  5. Arrange salad on plate. Top with cucumber mix and halloumi. Consume!

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