This salad happened because I was cleaning out the fridge. Sometimes the best recipes happen this way, don’t you think?
I had a pint of baby heirloom tomatoes on the counter, some greens in the crisper, and a hunk of haloumi cheese in the cheese drawer. It was one of those hot days that called for a salad. But I knew I wanted the salad to be the meal, and not just a side to something else. My creativity was at a low, and I didn’t know what else I was going to cook up, so I figured there had to be a way to make this salad substantial enough to satisfy our bellies.
At first I thought of roasting up the tomatoes a la my ‘Honey Roasted Tomato Pasta‘ and just boil up some noodles to go with it. But for once I really wasn’t in the mood for pasta! Can you imagine me not being in the mood for pasta?! Well it happened last week, so I don’t anticipate it happening for another 4.7 years.
Then I remembered that hunk of haloumi. Have you ever had haloumi (or halloumi) cheese? I always think of it as being from Greece, but I think it’s from Turkey. Some sources say Cyprus. No matter where it originates, it is a yummy semi hard cheese that is brined (like feta) and can be sliced. It has a mild flavour (not overly salty like some feta can be) and the texture can be almost rubbery or squeaky when slicing it! But it takes to heat very well, keeping it’s shape, and actually tasting even better once warmed on the grill or griddle pan. These days you should be able to find it at any good cheese monger or grocery store (think Loblaws in Canada or Trader Joe’s in the US) It usually comes in a tub with brine, or in a sealed package. It keeps very well in the fridge, so it’s always a great thing to have on hand.
So I figured, since I would be roasting the tomatoes in the oven, with olive oil, shallots, garlic, thyme and some honey, the juices that would be created would be amazing over a piece of grilled haloumi and the final bunch of frisée in the crisper. And this is exactly what I did!
I followed my earlier recipe, and while the tomatoes were roasting away, (and giving off the most glorious aroma!) I grilled up the slices of cheese. Usually a hunk of haloumi comes thick enough that you can slice it into 2 or 3 1/3 inch slices. You don’t want the slices to be any less than 1/3 inch, or you run the risk of them falling apart on the grill. I just heated up the grill pan over medium high heat. Then I placed the slices on the pan. After about 3 minutes or so (whatever time it takes to get the lovely grill marks!) I flipped them and did the same on the other side. You don’t even have to spray the pan! And if you don’t have a grill pan, so problem, a skillet will cook the cheese just as well. Either way, just watch the bottom- you want a good burnish, but not a burnt char.
The tomatoes take about 15-20 minutes in the oven. So you don’t need to start the cheese too early. Once everything is ready, I just took good handfuls of the frisée and placed them on the plates. I placed the grilled cheese on top of the greens, and then finally I spooned the tomatoes over everything. Make sure you get every drop of juice and oil from the baking pan to drizzle over everything- there is so much goodness in that liquid! A good crack of pepper, and even some hot pepper flakes,
Go ahead on top everything with freshly torn basil or even some mint if you’d like. For your base, why not try a combo of arugula, baby kale, romaine or even mustard or mizuna! The key to this salad is the self created dressing that happens in the roasting pan. Of course, once you have used those drippings all up, do as I do, and add another squidge or two of a good grassy olive oil over everything.
This salad would make a great lunch, dinner or even first course. It makes a fabulous Meatless Monday meal. I packed up the leftovers and ate them cold the next day and still totally enjoyed it. Let me know what you think of it when you try it! Enjoy these warm days of summer that have now arrived, which are the perfect days for salads for dinner.
Honey Roasted Heirloom Tomato and Halloumi Salad
Intensely sweet and spiced roasted baby heirloom tomatoes join grilled halloumi cheese to create a summer salad. Served over fresh greens, using the roasting juices and a good grassy olive oil to create the dressing, this salad will become one you'll go back to often!!
- 3 cups or so of baby heirloom tomatoes (you can also use cherry or grape tomatoes tomatoes on the vine etc, or even a combination of them all. You will want approximately 2/3 cup of tomatoes per person
- 4 large shallots peeled and quartered
- 8 medium garlic cloves halved skinned
- 1/4 cup or so of good olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 1 tsp hot chilli flakes or aleppo pepper
- 2 tsp dried basil or 2 tsp finely chopped fresh
- 1 tsp crushed dried rosemary or 2 tsp finely chopped fresh
- 1/2 tsp each kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- 2 or more tbsp wildflower or clover honey for drizzling (depending on how sweet you like things!
- 4 slices of halloumi cheese from approximately 12 oz or 350 grams of cheese
- 4 large handfuls of fresh greens you can use frisée, arugula, romaine, mizuna, gem lettuce, baby kale, or even a combination of the above
- fresh cracked black pepper
- 4 tbsp freshly torn basil or mint or a combo of both
Preheat oven to 350F
In a baking pan (not too big, but large enough so that you can spread out tomatoes) toss the shallots, garlic, olive oil, chilli flakes, and basil and rosemary.
On top of these lay out your tomatoes. Season with some salt and pepper. Drizzle some more olive oil over the tomatoes.
Drizzle honey over all of the above.
Roast until the tomatoes are starting to burst but are still intact. There may be a slight browning to the skin. The shallots and garlic should be softened. The garlic skin may have started to burn, but the garlic inside will be fine. Check after 15 minutes, but it may take 20 minutes or a tad longer. That's alright, the kitchen will smell amazing!
At about the halfway point of the roasting time, prepare the grill pan for the cheese.
Heat over medium high heat. When warmed through, place the cheese slices onto the pan. Grill each side for about 3 minutes, or until a lovely grill pattern has occured. Don't let it get to burning though.
Place a good handful of the greens onto each plate. Top with a slice of the grilled cheese.
Divide the tomatoes evenly between all of the plates. Drizzle all the juices from the baking pan over everything. Add about another 1.5-2 tbsp of olive oil over the plates. Make sure the greens get a bit of the juices and olive oil.
Crack some fresh black pepper over everything. Add more chilli flakes if you'd like. Top with some torn herbs like basil or mint.
This is one of those salads where you can really use what you like for each component, except of course the cheese. Use whatever tomatoes are on hand, use more if you like! Use whatever greens you have on hand. And add extra spice as you see fit. Enjoy!