Chargrilled asparagus, courgettes and haloumi salad

Haloumi has to be one of my all time favourite cheeses. Saying that, I also am prone to drooling over and consuming any mozzarella (smoked, unsmoked) in sight, comte and any blue cheese that is made by Neal’s yard. This recipe actually calls for manouri but it works really well with haloumi. As the weather turns into full-on summertime, this is perfect for alfresco dining and gets the most out of the seasonal asparagus. The one issue with this salad is that it is probably best to use the ridged griddle pan mentioned, however as I don’t have one of these just yet I just used my trusty cast-iron pan. This salad is a sensation, even if in the picture it looks more like a tofu stir-fry—probably due to the choice of plate! Of all the Ottolenghi salads I have tried as yet, it is my favourite and could possibly be the best salad mankind has ever invented … well, that might be going a bit far … but do try it, it is delicious alongside a rack of lamb or grilled fish.

Chargrilled asparagus, courgettes and haloumi salad

350g cherry tomatoes, halved

140ml olive oil

24 asparagus spears

2 courgettes

200g haloumi cheese, sliced 2cm thick

25g rocket leaves

sea salt and pepper

Basil oil

75ml olive oil

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

25g fresh basil

pinch of salt

black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Mix the tomatoes with salt , pepper and 3 tablespoons olive oil.

2. Spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment skin side down and roast for an hour or until it looks partially dried. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

3. Break off the tough end of the asparagus and blanch in lots of boiling hot water for 4 minutes. Rinse with cold water to stop the spears from cooking any further, drain well. Put the asparagus into a bowl and add 2 tablespoons olive oil along with some salt and pepper to taste.

4. Slice courgettes very thinly lengthwise (a vegetable peeler will do the trick). Mix them with a tablespoon of olive oil along with salt and pepper.

5. Heat your griddle pan on high until it is extremely hot. Grill the courgettes and asparagus, turning to grill evenly. Remove and leave to cool. Fry the cheese on the griddle pan in the remaining olive oil till golden.

6. For the basil oil, food process all the ingredients till smooth. Assemble the salad in layers and drizzle with plenty of basil oil.

Serves 4–6

(Recipe from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, Yotam Ottolenghi, Ebury Press)

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