Squeaky cheese, baby spinach, toasted pine nuts, flash-grilled tomatoes, avocado, and an easy peasy vinaigrette…this all makes for a flavoursome springtime salad.
Its springtime in New Zealand and with the days becoming warmer, I was inspired to make a bright and sunny salad to eat for my lunch on what was a lovely shiny sunny day. I knew I had some halloumi, otherwise known as ‘squeaky cheese’ in the fridge and decided that this would make a wonderful lead star to my salad with pine nuts coming in as best supporting actor. So, if you are looking for an appetizing vegetarian (ovo-lacto) springtime salad, then look no further. This salad not only looks delicious, but only takes 15 minutes to knock together and you will be surprised at just how filling it is. Healthy fats and a hearty protein hit from the cheese provides a hunger-busting formula for such a seemingly light looking salad.
I used spinach leaves in this salad but really, you could use any salad greens that you have on hand in your refrigerator. Rocket (arugula) would also pair well with the saltiness of the halloumi and the fragrant crunch that comes from the toasted pine nuts.
Made in slightly smaller portions, this dish also lends itself well to being a fantastic entrée or appetiser if you’re looking to throw a dinner party. In fact, why not invite somebody to lunch or hold a dinner party just so you can try this recipe out. It’ll be worth it.
Oh, and just one last parting little note of advice to you…do not fear the squeaky cheese. It’s delicious!
400g Halloumi, cut into batons
200g Tomatoes, halved (approximately 6 small tomatoes)
2tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ tsp Himalayan Pink Salt
1tsp Ground Black Pepper
100g Avocado, sliced into quarters (1 medium)
150g Baby Spinach Leaves (or salad leaves of choice)
40g Pine Nuts
1spritz Oil spray for the non-stick pan (or ½ tsp cooking oil)
30ml (2Tb) Red Wine Vinegar
15ml (1Tb) Garlic Infused Avocado Oil (or Olive Oil)
15ml (1Tb) Sugar Free Maple Flavoured Syrup (or more if you like)
Optional – add a crack of black pepper
1. First make the salad dressing by combining the red wine vinegar, garlic infused avocado oil and sugar free maple syrup (and black pepper if using) in a small jar or sealable container. Place lid on jar and shake to mix together thoroughly then set aside till you are ready to assemble the salad.
2. Preheat oven on grill setting at 200ºC/390ºF.
3. Place tomatoes halves on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
4. Place baking tray in preheated oven under the grill on the middle rack for 10 minutes or until they are cooked but still holding their shape. [Alternatively, you could pan fry the seasoned tomato halves in a non-stick pan on the stove but take care not to overcook them as you do not want them to become sloppy]
5. After 10 mins, add the pine nuts to the baking tray and grill for another 2 minutes or until golden (keep an eye on these as they can burn very easily).
6. While the tomatoes are cooking, take a non-stick pan and give it a light spray of cooking oil. Place the halloumi batons into the pan and fry them over medium heat on the stove until they are golden on all sides.
7. To serve, divide the avocado and spinach leaves equally onto place onto four plates. Top with halloumi batons and tomato halves and sprinkle the pine nuts over each. Drizzle over the dressing and sit down to enjoy.
If you pan-fry the tomato halves rather than using the grill, I would suggest pan-toasting the pine nuts first and then setting them aside till you are ready to assemble the salad. You can then use the same pan to pan-fry the tomatoes. Additionally, as you are having to be hands on to pan-cook the tomatoes and pine nuts, you may not be able to cook the halloumi until they are done (unless you are good at multi-tasking). This will result in extra cooking time to be added to complete this recipe.
Nutritional Information (per serve)